Sunday, March 24, 2013

We Knead to Bake - March Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

Last month's classic croissants were a hit among the bakers in this group. All of whom who tried the given recipe seemed very happy with the outcome. As for me, having baked them twice, I am more confident to handle a rather complicated recipe now. This month's bread is not any less in creativity and taste while the recipe is not difficult to make. We have tried the Hokkaido milk bread using tangzhong.
I am reproducing here the interesting facts about this bread and the secret ingredient that gives it the rise and texture as given by Aparna.

Hokkaido Milk Bread is known for its soft cottony/ pillow like texture. Apparently it’s very popular bread in South Asian bakeries across the world. It is also known as Asian Sweet Bread and Hong Kong Pai Bo. 
Some people say this is a Japanese bread while others say it’s because the milk used in this bread is from Japan while some others have suggested its pure white colour and the texture resemble the pristineness of Hokkaido!

The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux. 

At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and create a “leavening” action.  When the Tangzhong is added into other ingredients of a bread dough, it produces light, tender and fluffier bread.

This method of using Tangzhong is often seen in South Asian breads and was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book which translates to “65 degrees Bread Doctor".

Thus, we were baking this very versatile bread with the basic recipe shared by Aparna. She had tried the recipe a few times and added a picture collage of the process to help us.
I made them twice, the first time following the recipe to the letter and the next time, altering to make it savoury filled dinner rolls. With half of those saved for another night's pav bhaji, we enjoyed the rest with soup. Also I substituted the milk with soya milk that a friend next door made and shared. Though I did not make it fully vegan, the butter was replaced with oil too. I still used the milk powder and the cream though.

As the month progresses, we get to see the pictures other members put up having tried the recipe. With each of those, one would only be motivated to bake again, along with them.
Now to the recipe,
adapted from http;// 

For the Tangzhong (Flour - Water Roux)
1/3 cup of  all purpose flour (it weighed 40 grams when checked)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk

For the dough:
2 and 1/2 cups (310 grams) all purpose flour
3 table spoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered milk
2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1/2 cup milk (and a little more only if absolutely required)
1/8 cup of cream (I have used low fat content cream)
1/3 cup of tangzhong ( that would be half the quantity of the yield that you got from the above listed ingredients)
25 grams unsalted butter

For the chocolate rolls: 1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
For the gem tree: Candied cherries of different colours
For the savoury filling: Pestos or chutneys of choice.


Preparing the Tangzhong:
Whisk lightly the flour, milk and water to a smooth and free of lumps batter in a heavy bottomed pan.
Place the pan on the stove and on a low heat stirring the mix allow it to thicken. The roux is supposed to be done until it reaches the optimum temperature of 65 Degrees C/149 Degrees F. But I do not have a kitchen thermometer to check the temperature. I opted to do what Aparna had suggested. The roux id done when it has thickened enough and lines form in the tangzhong as you stir. This would have thickened sufficiently, but still have a kind of jiggling consistency. 
Take the pan off the heat and allow the tangzhong to cool for two to three hours. By now the consistency would be like that of a soft and creamy patisserie.
This can be made ahead and refrigerated covered well for just about a day, not longer.

Making the bread dough:
The kneading is a bit long drawn if you choose to do with your hands. The dough should be kneaded well and long enough to form a perfectly circular tear if stretched beyond its elasticity.
You may use the food processor or a hand mixer fitted with dough hooks. Whichever process you choose, the dough has to kneaded well.

First whisk the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and the milk powder together.
In a separate bowl, add the cream and milk to the measured quantity (half of the resultant quantity that you made with 1/3 cups of flour and other ingredients) of tangzhong. Whisk them well to blend in a batter like consistency. Ensure to make it smooth without lumps.
Add this to the whisked flour mix. Knead/ run your mixer at a slow speed until the dough comes together. Then add the butter and knead.
The dough will start out quite sticky and as you continue, the stickiness will give way to softness and elasticity. This takes a while, but the exercise is necessary.

Once the dough has been achieved, roll it in a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl. Roll the dough around to coat it with the oil. Cover and place it in a warm place to allow it to almost double in its initial volume. This may take from 45 minutes to an hour.
Place the dough on your working surface, deflate slightly and then shape.
You will not need flour to work this dough. Just about a little might be required.
Divide the dough into three if you are baking one 9"X5" loaf. Or six equal portions if you choose to bake them in 2 tins of 6"X4" .
I used my mini loaf pan that gives 4 mini loaves and the rest of the dough was shaped in smaller rolls to fit a muffin tray. I had desired to shape one portion of the dough and reserved it to shape a small tortoise.

Whichever size you want to bake, follow the steps with the dough.
Roll out one portion in an oval shape. Bring the top side of the shaped dough away from you to the centre. Overlap this at the centre with the lower portion of the oval.

Rotate the somewhat rectangular shape and roll it along the length a bit.
starting from the end towards you, roll the rectangle like a mat, pinching the edges together to seal well.
Repeat the process and place all of the rolled dough in the respective pans.
If using the loaf tins, place the rolls next to each other. Place one roll in each of the muffin holders.
To shape the tortoise, I removed small portions for the four legs and the head. I reserved another slightly larger portion for the shell/carapace.

Roll the body in an elongated circle with the hind slightly pointed. Flatten the dough for the head piece and attach. Likewise do the limbs. Roll the reserved dough for the shell in a circular disc and make deep cuts with a knife to bring out the shape.
For the eyes and the mouth, I placed one pepper corn  for each.
Cover the finished rolls and allow a second rise for another 45 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade.
Carefully brush the tops of the rolls with milk and cream mix. bake them for 20 to 30 minutes until the tops of the rolls are browned beautifully.
The bread will rise vertically while baking and will have a very soft texture.

If you tap the tops they will sound hollow.
Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and remove.
Cool them completely and store them in your bread bin.

To make a savoury bread or a bland tasting dinner roll, cut down the sugar.
Layer the savoury filling before rolling the rectangular dough in rolls and placing in the loaf tins.

This bread stays fresh even on the next day and maintains the texture.
It is ideal for having with soup or  as pav with a bhaji to go with it.

Do check this link in My Diverse Kitchen where all of us have shared our breads.


  1. Wow... u have quiet some variety there!! Lovely :)

  2. Wow! THis group takes their bread very seriously. Love the tortoise. So well made.

  3. lovely spongy tempting bread with and awesome presentation.

  4. Beautifully baked bread akka,love ur tortoise and those mini loaves, mindblowing and well done.

  5. Lata the bread has come out so well.
    I see this popping up all over the blogs. Loved this bread and feel tempted to give this a try!

  6. Such an interesting recipe. Have to try this. Your recipes have been tried before with successes. Thank you!

  7. This looks amazing, picture perfect....Come and participate in my Recap event and 3 giveaways

  8. Lovely Bread. I too enjoyed making this

  9. Hi ! You have a lovely blog with nice clicks! I have just started following you and it would be highly encouraging if you may follow mine too.

  10. Wow that bread looks extremely fluffy - very interesting recipe.


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Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.