I’ve always loved eating the freshly baked soft bread brought from London’s China Town, or even better from HongKong. But I was always baffled about the recipe and method they use. I always thought it was their trade secret that was forbidden to be released to the world. But one day I found this recipe on Christine’s blog, it amazed me and gave me a new dimension on bread making. It was called the TangZhong Method. The secret ingredient/method in this recipe is the water roux starter that is added to the dough to make a soft and fluffy breads I adore.
Ingredients for Water roux starter (TangZhong湯種)
- 25g bread flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk
Ingredients for the dough:
- 350g cups bread flour
- 55g / 3tbsp 2tsp caster sugar
- 1tbsp 1tsp milk powder
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1tsp salt
- 1 Large egg
- 1/2 cup warm milk (But not hot)
- 30g butter
- Mix flour, water and milk ensuring that there is no lumps in a sauce pan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
- When the mixture thickens to a paste consistency, cook on a low heat for a further minute. (Similar in cooking custard but a thicker consistency.
- Remove from heat and cover with cling film, ensuring the surface is touched with the cling film (this is to prevent a skin from forming)
- Combine all dry ingredients in the order listed above except from the salt. Stir the yeast in before you add the salt as yeast doesn’t like salt. (The salt can kill the yeast) Make a well in the center. Add the milk, tangzhong and egg in to the well and mix.
- Knead this dough until the dough is smoothed and less sticky. (This dough is going to be very sticky and would seem like it’s impossible to handle. If you’re lucky enough to own a bread maker you can let it do the hard work.)
- Then knead in the butter. While kneading you should every so often drop the dough from a height, this also helps stretch the gluten.
- The dough should be ready when it’s smooth and when you stretch the dough you can almost see through it.
- Place in a bowl and cover with a warm damp towel. Let this rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size. There is no specified time, usually I’ll leave it for 1-2hours, but the longer you leave it the softer your dough would be. (Some leave their dough in the fridge overnight which creates soft and flavorsome bread.)
- Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough and transfer it to a floured surface.
- Divide the dough into 4-6 equal portions (Depending what size bread you would like to serve).
- Cover with cling film and let this rest for 15 minutes, this relaxes the dough to make it more pliable.
- Roll out each dough and place about 1 tablespoon of raisins on top (Can add more or less according to your taste). Fold the dough in thirds horizontally (opposite to a normal letter fold).
- Divide this into three portions and roll each portion into a long log.
- Pinch the three ends together and start plaiting. Once you’ve reached the end, pinch the three pieces together and tuck it in.
- Place this on a baking tray that is greased or lined with baking parchment. Cover the plaited dough with cling film. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Leave the dough to rise for around 1-2 hours, or until it’s puffed up in size.
- Brush the surface of the dough with a whisked egg.
- Bake this in a pre-heated oven of 180c for 15-20 minutes. Check if it’s cooked when the surface has turned into a nice golden color and that the base has turned golden brown too. Take it out and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy and happy baking!
These turned out a little too dark as my oven is usually more powerful compared to over conventional ovens. In my next batch I covered my buns with a piece of aluminium foil after the buns had turned in to a nice golden color I wanted. They turned out really good and yummy like the ones in China town. I’ve also made a pandan flavored version, just add 1/2 teaspoon of pandan paste with the wet ingredients at the beginning of the kneading process.
Please refer to Christine’s blog for further information.
You might also like:
- Creamy custard buns (Tang Zhong method)
- Matcha red bean buns – Green tea adzuki buns (Tang Zhong method)
- Chocolate French Macarons
- Best ever Brownies