Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • Tangzhong:
    • 3 tablespoons (45ml) Water
    • 3 tablespoons (45ml) Milk
    • 2 tablespoons (16g) Bread flour
  • Dough:
    • 2 1/2 cups (300g) Bread flour
    • 1/4 cup (50g) Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon (5g) Salt
    • 1 packet (7g) Instant yeast
    • 1/2 cup (120ml) Milk
    • 1 Egg
    • 4 tablespoons (60g) Unsalted butter, softened

Instructions

  1. Make the Tangzhong: In a small saucepan, mix water, milk, and flour for the tangzhong. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens to a paste. Let it cool.
    • Tangzhong Method: This is a roux-like mixture that pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour, allowing it to hold more water. This results in a softer, fluffier bread with longer freshness.
  2. Prepare Dough: In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the cooled tangzhong, milk, and egg. Mix to form a dough.
    • Bread Flour: Higher protein content helps develop strong gluten.
    • Sugar: Sweetens the bread and feeds the yeast.
    • Salt: Adds flavor and controls yeast fermentation.
    • Yeast: Responsible for fermentation, producing CO₂ gas that makes the bread rise.
  3. Knead Dough: Knead the dough until smooth, then add the softened butter and continue kneading until the dough is elastic, about 10-12 minutes.
    • Kneading with Butter: Incorporating butter after developing some gluten gives the bread a rich flavor and tender crumb.
  4. First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
    • Fermentation: The yeast ferments sugars, producing CO₂ that causes the dough to expand, developing flavor and texture.
  5. Shape Rolls: Punch down the dough, divide it, and shape into balls or your desired shape. Place in a baking pan.
    • Punching Down: Releases any large air bubbles and helps to distribute yeast, sugars, and air for even fermentation.
  6. Second Rise: Cover the shaped dough and let it rise again until puffy, about 30-45 minutes.
    • Proofing: Further fermentation improves texture and flavor.
  7. Bake: Bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
    • Baking: Heat causes rapid yeast activity (oven spring), while proteins coagulate and starches gelatinize, setting the bread’s structure. The Maillard reaction creates a golden crust.
  8. Cool and Serve: Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.

Scientific Explanations

  • Tangzhong Technique: Cooking a portion of the flour and liquid creates a gel that can hold more water. This gelatinized starch adds moisture to the bread, making it softer and helping it stay fresh longer.
  • Yeast Fermentation: Yeast consumes sugars, producing CO₂ gas. This gas gets trapped in the gluten network, causing the dough to rise and creating a light, fluffy texture.
  • Gluten Development: Gluten, formed by kneading, provides the necessary structure and elasticity to hold the gases released by the yeast.
  • Oven Spring and Maillard Reaction: The heat in the oven causes a final burst of CO₂ production from the yeast (oven spring) and promotes the Maillard reaction, leading to a golden-brown crust.

Japanese milk bread, known for its incredibly soft, fluffy texture and slightly sweet flavor, is a delightful result of the tangzhong method combined with traditional bread-making techniques. This method, along with the fermentation and baking processes, creates a bread that’s not only delicious but also has a wonderfully tender crumb.

John Nguyen
John Nguyen
Articles: 104

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