Bread bakers - Have you heard of Japanese milk bread?

shamboJuly 9, 2012

A while ago I came across a blog entry devoted to Japanese milk bread and was intrigued by the "water roux" method -- tangzhong. It's supposed to give the bread an incredibly soft & fluffy texture while improving its keeping qualities. The last few visits my daughter & her husband have brought us baked goods from a popular Japanese bakery near their home. The pastries all seem to be made with a very soft dough. Yesterday they also brought some bread. It, too, was very soft. As I was munching away, I remembered the milk bread recipe. I think the pastries & bread probably used a similar recipe.

Have any of you used a water roux before? Do you think it really makes a difference in achieving a super soft texture? The roux is created by mixing bread flour and water together and cooking it at gentle heat until it reaches 65 degrees. Supposedly, by adding it to the dough, the resulting bread or roll texture will be very moist and soft.

I'm just curious about the whole idea. Also, I'm wondering if the same technique could be used with whole wheat flour, especially the finely milled white whole wheat flour.

The link below shows several recipes from TasteSpotting. Here's a link to a fairly representative recipe: Japanese Milk Bread

Here is a link that might be useful: TasteSpotting examples of Tangzhong

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Ha! This is what Mennonite home bakers do here in PA! It's how they make whole wheat bread, and especially hot dog and hamburger rolls, as soft and squushy as supermarket bread. They cook a porridge of flour and water (or milk). The difference is they may cook it to a higher temp than 65 C (=149F).
I made it once long ago, but wasn't at all appealing to me. I've never had the Japanese milk bread, though,and maybe the effect is subtler.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:13PM
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I've made it before. The texture really is much softer than traditional homemade bread. It also keeps the bread fresher longer.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:17AM
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Tracey - what kind of crust do you get with this method? Is it also very soft?


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 7:00PM
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This looks very interesting. I'm not doing much baking right now, but I'll keep the recipe for somewhat cooler times. Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 7:34PM
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I want to try this technique too. I was really impressed with the Japanese pastries. The yeast dough part was not overpoweringly sweet, and the texture was very soft and tender. The bread loaf was similar but a bit less sweet.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:37PM
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I've never had any Mennonite food, but the Japanese certainly seem to have a way of making everything taste fabulous. Sounds great!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:49PM
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I do believe it's the secret behind the fluffy Bread Story type Asian pastries. I've been playing with it for gluten free baking (with a rice flour water roux), and it sticks the dough together enough to make pastry without xanthan. I think it may also be how rice noodles are made.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:09PM
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The crust was very soft but I baked it in my bread maker. Not sure how different it would be in a regular oven. I used 1/2c water and I weighed out 25 grams of flour. Cooked it to 150� then refrigerated it 3-4 hours. Keep an eye on your dough as this made mine rise way more than usual.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 12:35AM
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Holy cow, it looks good! Reminds me of a Challah-type bread.

Here is another recipe/blog and pics from Tasty Kitchen.
She calls for warm milk, plus dry milk powder. I'm not sure what the milk powder does, and I never buy it, (and won't, just to use a bit in bread recipes). Would it be okay to leave out, or should I just increase the warm milk a tad?

Here is a link that might be useful: Tasty Kitchen's Japanese Milk Bread

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:54AM
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jasdip: You can leave the milk powder out. According to my research the milk powder is for "fragrance" and most of the recipe translated from Japanese and Chinese say "optional". I buy small tin of whole milk powder from Wallyworld for about $1.50 (brand NIDO) - I keep in freezer. We use the NIDO to make DIY evaporated milk because we can not use carageenan (sp??) which is in canned evap milk. I've become addicted to using this water roux/tang zhong method. I think the folks who make the Challah at our local grocer must use this method because the bread has about the same texture.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:08AM
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