This is the softest milkiest bread I have made at home so far , something a bread baker’s dreams are made of . A perfect example of soft and airy bread made by the Tangzhong method . By no means it is a lean bread. Enriched with whole milk , egg and butter, it is an indulgence , more like a Brioche . But you can always make it a little lighter by halving the amount of butter and using skim milk , and still have a light and soft bread . without compromising the lightness of the bread .
If you are going to bake this bread, be forewarned – the most tantalizing milky yeasty aromas are going to fill the house . In other words don’t bake it if you are not in a sharing frame of mind ….In this recipe I am going to use 400 gm (3 C) bread flour for this bread . I am going to follow my rule of 10% or less of flour being used for to make Tangzhong . Measure 30 gm ( roughly 1/4C) flour , mix with 150 ml of milk (3/4 C). Heat this slurry to 149 degree F to make the roux . Click here for detailed instructions on how to make Tangzhong . Cool it to room temperature .
While I love the process of kneading the bread , I do not always have the time or energy for it . What I have found after countless loaves is that one can achieve the same results by letting the dough rest and the gluten to develop naturally . This lets me do the minimal kneading with hand while still being able to develop the gluten network . Of course there is nothing stopping you from using the stand mixer .
If using active dry yeast activate the yeast in ½ c milk mixed with 1 tbsp sugar . Warm the milk to 110 degree F , stir in the sugar . Sprinkle the yeast on top and wait for 5 to 10 minutes to see it froth . Beat the egg well in a small bowl . Set aside .
Take a big bowl , one that is convenient enough to stir everything in . Take the measured flour in the bowl . Make a well in the center put the cooled Tangzhong , the sugar , yeast mixture (or yeast and milk )and egg . Using a spoon gently mix the flour into the wet ingredients . If the mixture is too dry and is not coming together add more milk in 1 tablespoon at a time . This is highly unlikely though as the dough mentioned here itself is very sticky . Once all the flour is mixed in cover and let sit for 20 mins .
I usually reserve 1 teaspoon of the egg mixture . This I mix with 2 tbsp of milk and use to brush the top of the bread later.
After 20 mins turn the dough out onto a lightly floured kneading (flat) surface . Knead gently for five minutes . The dough will be sticky . Do not add extra flour at this time . If after few minutes of gentle kneading if the dough is still very sticky add flour 1 tbsp at a time up to a quarter cup . Please remember this will be a soft dough . Once the dough comes together in a ball add the butter in 1 tbsps at a time . Knead in the butter after each addition . You will notice a marked difference in the dough . Knead enough just to incorporate the butter . Do not over knead . The dough will be very soft and pliable . Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a well buttered (oiled) bowl for proofing . Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap . Leave the dough undisturbed for an hour to 2 till doubled in volume . Remember here that the ambient temperature plays a big part in how the dough rises . If the room temperature is on the cooler side keep the dough on a warm place to rise .
Once the dough has doubled in volume punch the dough down . Knead a few times in the bowl itself . Divide the dough into 4 portions . Form each into a ball . You can use the same bowl or another well greased one . Generously butter a 9X5 loaf pan or the pan for baking the bread . Lightly flour a kneading surface . Take out one dough ball . Roll it out into a rectangle . Fold 2 opposite sides inwards as in the picture . Roll to form a log. Pinch the end to form a tight seal .
Transfer to the prepared pan , seam side down Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls . Neatly arrange the logs in the pan side by side .Cover and let it rise for 30 to 45 minutes . By this time dough has risen significantly and is peeking out from the top of the loaf pan . Around 15 minutes into the final rise preheat the oven to 350 degree F . Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash . Transfer to the hot oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes . Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack cool completely , at least for an hour .
Slice , serve with your favorite jelly jam or any way you like it .
In a small heavy pot, whisk flour, milk together until smooth. Heat over medium-low flame and cook, stirring often, until thickened . When it’s ready, the spoon will leave tracks on the bottom of the pot. Transfer into a bowl and tightly cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature .Activate the yeast with milk and 1Tbsp sugar .
Take the flour in a big bowl . Make a well in the middle add the cooled Tangzhong ,yeast, sugar and the beaten egg . Stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened .Cover with a plastic wrap or a wet towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes .
Uncover , transfer to a lightly floured surface . Sprinkle the salt on top and knead gently for 5 minutes . Add a couple of tablespoons more of the flour if the dough is too sticky. Add the softened soft butter 1 tablespoons at a time and knead gently to incorporate well. As you need the dough becomes very soft and pliable . Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl. cover and let it rise for an hour or so till doubled in volume .
Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal size portions . Form each portion into a ball . Butter the bread pan generously .
Working with one ball at a time . Roll it out into rectangle . Fold the 2 long opposite sides quarter way in to meet at the middle . Roll this from one end to form a log . Pinch to close . Transfer the log into the buttered bread pan seam side down . Repeat with the other balls and arrange logs neatly in the pan .Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm place , until it has more than doubled and peeking out over the top of the pan . Preheat the oven to 350ºF(175ºC) . Make the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk and beating well .Brush the top of the bread with egg wash and transfer to the preheated oven .Bake for 30 to 40 minutes . Check and adjust temperature at 25 minutes to prevent over browning .
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hr before slicing .