I do love soft bread for my sandwiches. This loaf, made using the Tangzhong method, is perfect. That method makes a wonderfully soft bread. Not only that though, the bread stays fresh for longer. The reason for that is because the level of hydration can be greatly increased with the Tangzhong method.
Basically the more moisture in the bread the longer it will stay soft and fresh. So, when making bread in future I shall use Tangzhong. Another variation to that is Yudane which is a similar method which originated in Japan. Maybe in the future I will do a comparison between breads made with Tangzhong and Yudane.
But for now I will stick with Tangzhong. Let me explain how I arrived at this particular recipe. I had a bread recipe using all the same ingredients as shown below. However in that recipe the milk required was 320ml, which would make a loaf of about 63% hydration. That would make a very nice loaf, but it would quickly start to go stale. However increasing the hydration level to about 75% would give a moister loaf. The problem then would be that the dough would be very sticky and difficult to work with.
But the clever trick is to make Tangzhong using some of the flour from the recipe, with liquid from the recipe in a ratio of about one part flour and 5 parts water. The process of heating the flour and water until it forms a thick and gloopy paste is Tangzhong. The flour absorbs the water and retains it when the Tangzhong is mixed into the remaining ingredients to create the dough. So the recipe can take more liquid but still make a soft dough that is only tacky rather than sticky.
When the dough is baked into bread the extra moisture helps the dough to rise more and the moisture is retained in the dough. That then helps to slow down how quickly the bread goes stale.
The recipe is still very simple, even though there is the extra step for making Tangzhong. The Tangzhong is made using flour and water from the recipe. Usually about 5% of the flour, in this case 32g, and 5 times that amount of the recipe’s liquid is enough to make the Tangzhong.
Then when it has been made and cooled it can be added into all the other ingredients to make the dough.
Once the dough is made it is proofed until it has just about doubled in size. Then it is deflated and shaped before being placed in the loaf pan. The dough is the allowed to rise again, until it is about one inch above the top of the pan.
The last step is then to bake the bread.
My dough was lovely and soft and just slightly tacky.
It rose well in the loaf pan and then even more when it was baked in the oven.
I tested the internal temperature after 30 minutes but it hadn’t reached 93C(199.4F) so I baked for another 5 minutes. Then, when I tested it again the temperature was above 93C, so I knew the bread was fully baked.
I took it out of the oven and brushed a little butter over the top, just to keep the crust nice and soft. Then I tipped the bread out, to cool, on a wire rack.
When it was fully cooled I sliced the bread and sampled it. It was quite the softest bread I have ever made. The crumb was good too, and it sliced very well. The taste was great too, lovely and moist and simply perfect for sandwiches.
An example of the Yudane method can be seen in this recipe for Soft Japanese Milk Bread.
Soft White Sandwich Bread – Tangzhong MethodCourse: BreadDifficulty: Medium
510g(3 1/3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) bread flour
370ml(1 1/2 cups + 2 tsp) milk
39g(2 tbsp+2 tsp) unsalted butter
35g(3 tbsp minus 1 tsp) caster sugar
11g( 1 3/4 tsp) salt
8g(2 1/2 tsp) instant yeast (one 7g packet will be fine though proofing may take slightly longer)
- Take 32g (3 1/2 tbsp) of the flour and 160ml(2/3 cups) of the milk and put them into a pan and mix them together until combined and there are no lumps of flour.
- Gently heat the pan, stirring all the while, until the mixture thickens into a sticky, gloopy, mass. See the note below to do this in a microwave instead.
- Allow the tangzhong to cool somewhat and heat the remaining milk to lukewarm.
- Put the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. yeast and butter. Then mix with the paddle attachment for a few seconds.
- Add the salt and the tangzhong and whisk until all it fully combined.
- Change to the dough hook attachment and add the remaining flour.
- Knead on a low speed until all the flour is combined with the wet mixture.
- Then knead for about 7 minutes, until the dough has come away from the side of the bowl and is smooth and soft and just a little tacky.
- Tip the dough onto the counter and, using a scraper to prevent sticking, form it into a tight ball.
- Place the ball of dough top side down in a lightly greased bowl. Then turn it over in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, damp, towel and allow it to proof in a warm place for about an hour, until it has just about doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly greased surface and knock the air out.
- Roll the dough up into a log, about 9 inches long.
- Place the dough into a greased 2lb(or slightly larger) loaf pan.
- Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it is about an inch above the top of the pan.
- As the dough rises preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
- Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 93C/200F. If you don’t have a thermometer bake for the full 35 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven and, if you wish, brush some butter over the top. Then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
- To make Tangzhong in a microwave combine the flour and milk in a microwavable bowl. Then heat in 15 seconds bursts, stirring each time, until the mixture is very thick and forms mounds when stirred. 5 or 6 bursts of 15 seconds should be sufficient.