Homemade whole wheat sandwich bread

… 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…

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: Tong Zhong, which is a mixture of water and plain flour (generally with a ratio of 5:1). By cooking Tong Zhong over medium heat for a few minutes, it quickly forms a thick porridge, which they mix into the dough.
 
Before I knew about Tong 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

  • 200 g Tong Zhong (See recipe HERE)
  • 220 ml warm full-fat 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 at room temperature
  • 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 standing mixer bowl and 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.

Note:
If 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 Tong Zhong into the yeast mixture and 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 5-8 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 loose ball. Cover dough with a damp cloth and 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 shallow dish or tray with space between each ball. Let dough rest, covered with the same damp cloth, for 15 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. 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 their tins. 
 
Cover the tins with a damp cloth 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. 
 
Once dough is ready, brush with milk, cover with lid (if using one) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. 
 
Remove tin from the oven and gently remove each loaf from its tin. Let rest on a rack to cool down completely before slicing. 
 
Storage for sandwich bread:
Consume within 3 days or freeze. Before freezing, I usually pre-slice 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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