15 May 2021

Tangzhong Milk Bread

This is a recipe I came across two years ago on youtube and I keep looking at it and thinking that I really should try it out and then other things happen and take my attention away. I tried to find out what Tangzhong means and found this video, which seems very informative.


Cooked dough
40g bread flour
200g water

Main dough
580g bread flour
60g sugar
12g salt
10g dry yeast
10g dry milk
260g milk
50g egg
50g unsalted butter at room temperature
egg wash (1 egg yolk + milk)


  1. Mix the ingredients for the cooked dough in a saucepan. Turn on medium heat and keep stirring until mixture thickens to a smooth paste.
  2. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Bring out to room temperature about an hour before using.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients for the main dough except the salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer to combine well.
  4. Then mixing at low speed, add in the milk, egg and the cooked dough and let the machine work until gluten has developed well.
  5. Then add the salt, a little at a time and once incorporated, turn out the dough onto the work surface.
  6. Spread the dough a bit, add in the soft unsalted butter, incorporate manually and shape into a ball.
  7. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 40 minutes to an hour in a warm place or a proofing drawer.
  8. Test the dough by poking your finger into it. If the dough does not spring back, it is ready.
  9. Weigh the dough and divide into 6 equal parts. Shape each part into a ball, then cover again with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  10. Roll or stretch each ball to an oval, about 1 cm thick and around 20 cm in length. Fold the top third over the middle third, then fold the lower third over that, a bit like a single turn when making puff pastry. Then turn the dough 90 degrees and roll dough into a tight roll, pinching it together at the seam. Repeat with the other pieces.
  11. Place 3 of the rolls into one bread pan, cover with cling film and let proof for 30 minutes to an hour.
  12. Brush with egg wash and bake in the oven, preheated to 180°C for 25-30 minutes.

    In this first attempt, I had no milk powder and I followed the video recipe, where the salt and butter were added at the start. So after some 20 minutes in the mixer machine, it still hadn't stopped sticking, but I chose to stop it because I feared the gluten would collapse. So I've made adjustments in the instructions above to save some time and get a good gluten development before adding the salt and butter.

    Once I'd placed it into the bread pans, I'd also started bakint biscuits in parallel, so I let the bread proof for 1 h, rather than just 30 minutes. I thought I'd over-proofed the bread, but not too badly actually, I did get some good oven spring and it poked up above the top edge of the bread tin. It did go a bit too dark and shiny on the top surface, I guess I didn't use enough milk in my egg wash, but the recipe didn't provide quantities and I just added about a teaspoon or so. When I took the two loaves out of the oven, Lundulph commented that it looks like a cake and should be iced.

    After leaving it to cool down completely, it still felt very soft to the touch and I was very careful when I sliced it. It did indeed come out very soft and fluffy and as we tasted it, Lundulph's cheeks glowed and his eyes sparkled, which is the very best indicator that I've succeeded. An afterthought was that I should have used milk in the cooked dough paste as well, since I didn't have milk powder. The crumb texture wasn't as stringy as in the video, but I think that may be because I stopped kneading too early perhaps, rather than the lack of milk powder. I'll get some for next time and try again. We now have some beautiful slices of bread in the freezer, hopefully once they are toasted, it'll be possible to spread butter on them, freshly baked that would not have worked at all. I did give one slice a squeeze and it did unfold completely, which was quite pleasing. The only thing I didn't like is that it went so dark on top, next time I'll brush with milk only.

    In subsequent bakes, I've added milk powder and I'm not sure if it makes any difference or not. But even when adding the butter at the end, the dough should still be worked for at least 10 minutes with the stand mixer. It might not stop sticking to the sides either, but it will develop wonderful gluten. Needless to say, Lundulph has fallen in love with this bread as have I and I haven't baked any of my usual breads for a while now. I should perhaps adjust the amounts for 3 loaves, rather than two, so that it lasts a bit longer.

    Variation: Adding ½ dl of poppy seeds or sesame seeds along with the dry ingredients works quite well and the dough stops sticking towards the end of the kneading. At this attempt, I also skipped the chilling of the cooked dough overnight in the fridge. I didn't see any difference, it comes out as fluffy as in my orginal bake. I've also started using milk in the cooked dough, stopped shaping each loaf from 3 buns and also stopped brushing the top with egg/milk wash. I don't slice and freeze the bread until the following day, so that it is a bit more stable. As with other successful recipes, I've ended up doing this every other week now.

    Variation 2: Swapping out 100 g of the flour for the main dough with strong wholemeal flour and also replacing the egg with 40 ml milk. This still results in a fluffy bread, and a good to know, if there are no eggs in the house.

    Variation 3: Replacing 180 g of the flour with strong wholemeal flour is even better. Poppy or sesame seeds can still be added (½ dl), but then an extra tablespoon of milk should be added as well.

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