Over the past few years, Asian bakeries and boba shops have become popular throughout the Bay Area. There’s just something about the bread and flavored buns that are so addicting- but have you ever wondered what it may be? Asian pastries tend to be softer and fluffier (and therefore more pleasing to the mouth) than your typical store bought bread. This is because these bakeries use tangzhong in their pastries.
Tangzhong is a paste, much like a roux, made of water and flour that gives bread its texture. Mixing the water and flour before adding it to dough helps it retain the moisture it gets from its binding ingredients as well as the actual tangzhong. It also helps the dough develop a stronger structure, because the added flour adds more starch and makes the final product more elastic. The method originated in Japan as a way to keep bread from drying out too fast, and spread across Asia due to the unique consistency it gave bread.
This recipe is a basic recipe for Korean milk bread using tangzhong. The final product is fluffy, layered, and just sweet enough. While it’s time consuming and takes effort, it’s a labor of love; the recipe is simple and will be well worth it in the end.
For this recipe I recommend using a mixer with a dough hook. If you don’t have one, a large bowl and sturdy baking spatula should do. Use a standard loaf pan when baking, let your dough rise in a warm place, and last but not least trust the process! Making the tangzhong or just bread in general requires patience and love. A happy baker makes for happy food and happy eaters.
TANGZHONG MILK BREAD
- ⅓ C – 40 g bread flour
- 0.85 C – 200 g water
- 4 + ⅝ C – 580 g bread flour
- ½ C – 60 g sugar
- A pinch salt
- ⅛ C – 10 g dry yeast
- ⅛ C – 10 g dry milk
- 1.07 C – 260 g milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ C – 50 g butter at room temp
- Preheat your oven to 355 F.
- To make the tangzhong, mix the ⅓ C bread flour and water over medium heat in a small saucepan until it forms a sticky dough. Cool to room temperature.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the remaining flour, sugar, salt, dry yeast, and dry milk until thoroughly combined.
- Add the liquid milk, egg, and tangzhong and mix to form a dough.
- Once dough is formed, add the butter and continue mixing until combined. Keep the mixer on until the dough has come together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Cover the dough and let it rise for 40 minutes to an hour until dough doubles in size.
- Deflate dough and put it on a clean work surface. Separate into halves until you have eight pieces of equal size. Roll into balls and cover them on your work surface with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.
- Roll them into buns. Do this by rolling a ball of dough into a rectangle. Fold it into thirds until it forms a smaller rectangle and roll it out just a bit more. Fold it into thirds again and tuck the ends together.
- Put the dough balls into bread pans, 4 to a pan.
- Let the buns rise in the pans for 30 minutes.
- Brush with milk then bake for 25 minutes.