Hokkaido Milk Bread

… since I started adding TAng Zhong, my sandwich bread has started coming out soft and moist, and I’ve never gone back to store-bought sandwich bread…

When we used to live in Hong Kong, we always bought our sandwich bread from the local bakery (King’s) in Happy Valley. They had their own oven and baked all their products fresh.
 
Hong Kong bakers have a unique way of preparing bread and creating the fluffiest dough: Tang Zhong, which is a mixture of water and plain flour (generally with a ratio of 5:1). By cooking Tang Zhong over medium heat for a few minutes, it quickly forms a thick porridge, which they mix into the dough.
 
Before I knew about Tang Zhong, I couldn’t figure out why the taste of my homemade sandwich bread was okay, but rather dry and too grainy. But since I started adding Tong Zhong, my sandwich bread has started coming out soft and moist, and I’ve never gone back to store-bought sandwich bread. It just doesn’t taste as good, and it always has preservatives added to increase shelf life. And, if you make bread at home, you can easily double/triple the portion and freeze the extra for later.
 

Makes 1 loaf (about 20+ slices)

Total cooking time:
1stproofing, 90 minutes
Resting, 15 minutes
2ndproofing, 60 minutes
Baking, 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 120 g Tang Zhong (See recipe HERE)
  • 220 ml warm full-fat milk or high protein non-dairy milk such as soy milk (fat content 2.5% – 3.5%)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 60 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 80 g unsalted butter, softened. Or 80 ml olive oil
  • 2.5 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 300 g wholemeal flour (or graham flour)
  • 400 g bread/all-purpose flour

Equipment required:

  • 32 cm x 10 cm (13 inch x 4 inch) bread loaf tin with/without lid
  • Standing Mixer (I use KitchenAid)

Recipe Preparation

Put warm milk, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar in a measuring jug, stir to combine. Let it sit until foamy, about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, brush loaf tin with either butter or vegetable oil and set aside. If you are using non-stick bread tin, you can skip this part.

Note:
If yeast mixture doesn’t get foamy after 10 minutes, remove it from the bowl and redo it with a new pack of dried yeast.

Put whisked eggs, sugar, salt, softened butter, and cooled Tong Zhong into the yeast mixture, using a paddle attachment at low speed, mix until well combined. Change attachment to the dough hook and mix at low/medium speed, adding flour ½ cup at a time until it forms a very sticky dough. Increase the speed to medium and let it continue to knead for another 8 minutes to increase the gluten in the dough.

Note:
You might need to check from time to time to see if the dough is sticking to the top of the attachment. If so, stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the dough off the hook and restart again.

The dough will be quite sticky, so use a round dough cutter to scrape it all from the sides of the bowl before proofing, forming a rough ball. Cover dough with a damp cloth or silicon lid, begin first proofing in a warm, dry environment for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has finished its first proofing, punch the ball once with your hand to release air. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 4 even pieces with a dough cutter. Lightly roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly dusted work counter, with space between each ball. Let dough rest, covered with the same damp cloth, for 10 minutes to allow gluten to relax.

On a lightly floured work surface, working with one piece at a time, use a rolling pin to stretch each ball into an oval/rectangular shape roughly 20 cm long and 10 cm wide. Making sure that you press out all bubbles in the dough before transferring them into the tin. Working from the long ends, roll the dough into a cylinder shape like a Swiss roll. With the open edge facing down, place the rolled dough into the prepared loaf tin. Repeat for the remaining 3 pieces, fitting them into the tin.

Cover the tins with a damp cloth or silicon wrapper and let them proof again for another 60 minutes or until the dough has risen up to 80% of the height of the tin*. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 170℃, fan assisted, rack in middle.

*if you do not use a lid, you need to brush the top of the dough with milk before baking.

Once dough is ready, cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove bread from the oven, remove the lid and gently remove loaf from the tin by turning the tin upside down. Let the whole loaf rest on a rack to cool down completely before slicing. I usually cover the loaf with a clean dry kitchen cloth and slice the next morning. Never cut the loaf freshly baked. Rest the loaf for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Storage for sandwich bread:
Consume within 3 days or freeze. Before freezing, I usually pre-sliced the whole loaf and store the slices in a Ziplock. Then you can just pop them in the toaster straight from the freezer when you need them.

You can also keep the bread fresh for almost a week if you keep it in a glasslock box.

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