Basic Tang Zhong Bread Loaf
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
I never thought I would get over buying soft bread rolls from my local Asian Bakeries. I have been fascinated with soft bread roll for as long as I can remember, but I never expected to be the person that came around to be totally obsessed with making them myself.
Tang Zhong Bread is nothing new In Asia, but it definitely is in the Western culture and has become a baking trend especially in Australia recently. Despite the pandemic, I am seeing a lot of new Asian bakeries opening up here in Melbourne selling their own signature Shokupan. The only critic some people may have about this bread loaf is that it is a "white" bread that lacks the nutritional value compared to sourdough or whole wheat bread that is quite the main focus in this 21st centuries where consumption for wellbeing matters. Nevertheless, soft white bread has been in the Asian Bread Culture for decades and it is entirely personal. As for me, I still do enjoy a regular soft white bread rolls but in moderation, and without saying, that goes for everything else. :)
If you are not familiar with this bread, Tang Zhong means "Water Roux" in Chinese. This bread prides itself with its soft texture that stays moist and light for a much longer period of time compared to any type of bread thanks to the method that they are made often referred to as the Tang Zhong Method. The Tang Zhong method is adapted from the Japanese Shokupan which uses a similar technique, called the Yudane Method , with a slight difference in the preparation.
What is Tang Zhong Method for Bread Making
Tang Zhong is the secret why this bread loaf stays so light and soft for a long period of time. What I am about to tell you may shock you because Tang Zhong is actually really easy to make, which is literally whisking water/milk with some flour and heating it over a stove until they gelatinize to a paste.
The way the Tang Zhong works has a lot to do with science. Generally, when flour are added with any type of liquid and heated over a heat source, it will start to gelatinize and thicken. This is thanks to the starch in the flour, which swells and absorbed the water as much as five times its own weight as the temperature rises to above 85˚C. This means that, if you were to whisk flour with water below the mentioned temperature, it will not thicken. When the starch gelatinizes, it arrives at an irreversible state where it is now swollen with liquid and stays in that state all the way through the end of baking the bread loaf. This means that no water are loss due to evaporation during baking nor to any ingredients in the bread recipe that has a tendency to draw water like "gluten", salt and sugar.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TANG ZHONG AND YUDANE METHOD
The Tang Zhong and Yudane method to me yields the same quality bread with the slight difference in their initial preparation. The two method goes through the same scientific means to achieving a soft bread as mentioned above.
In Yudane based bread, an equal amount of flour (usually 20%-30% of the flour in the total recipe) and boiling water are mixed together to create a firm dough, cooled then broken into pieces before adding them into the final dough.
On the other hand, the Tang Zhong Method uses a small portion of the flour from the final dough recipe (usually 8%-10%) with an addition of 5 to 6 times the amount of liquid, which are then whisked together over a heat source to initiate the gelatinization of the starch in the flour. This more pasty Tang Zhong, is also cooled before adding into the final dough for kneading.
I have personally made both method and thinks that there isn't much difference in the end result. Both the Yudane and Tang Zhong can be made in advance and in a bigger amount for those of you who are making soft bread on a daily basis. Simply wrap them well and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Preparation time: 90 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment : 1 x 500 g capacity Loaf Baking tin
(200 mm x 105 mm x 105 mm) or smaller for a higher loaf
Yield: 1 Loaf
Recipe by Christean Ng
TANG ZHONG (T.Z)
40 g 15% Water
60 g 23% Milk
20 g 7.8% White Bread Baker's Flour (13% protein content)
(5:1 Ratios to Water to Flour)
220 g 77.2% White Baker's Flour (13% Protein)
85 g 37% Full cream Milk- gently heated to 35˚C
3 g 1.3% Instant Yeast
30 g 13% Castor Sugar
8 g 4.2% Full Cream Milk Powder -
35 g 13.2% Egg
2.5 g 1.05% Fine Salt
40 g 15% Unsalted Butter (cubed) - room temperature
Total Weight = 543.5 g
NOTE: Total Dough Weight = 500 g - this is slightly lower than the actual weight of all ingredients added together because some weight has been lost from evaporation during the cooking of the Tang Zhong with an approximate 8% weight loss.
The dough will not rise above the tin that I am using which is at 105mm in height. If you want for it to be a taller loaf that rises above the tin , increase the amount of the recipe by 30%.
Whisk the remainder of the eggs that you may have leftover from the final dough recipe then whisk in a few teaspoon of water. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
50 g Boiling water
30 g Caster Sugar
Whisk the two together until the sugar are fully dissolved.
1. Start by preparing the Tang Zhong (Water Roux). Place the milk, water and flour for the TZ in a saucepan and cook over low to medium heat white constantly whisking until the mixture starts to thicken and gelatinize. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken, turn the heat off then transfer the TZ into a clean bowl covered with plastic wrap touching the surface of the TZ to prevent drying.
Set aside until it fully cool. The Tang Zhong can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use. Ensure that they are covered well to prevent from drying out.
2. Once the TZ has cooled, proceed to preparing the final dough by placing all the ingredients except for the butter into a stand mixer bowl. Knead the dough on low speed with a dough hook attachment on the stand mixer until all the ingredients come together to a wet dough. This will take approximately 3 minutes.
3. Add in the room temperature butter in two to three additions, adding each addition only until the first addition are well incorporated into the dough. Once all the butter have been added, increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for another 8 to 10 minutes, scraping the bowl down half way through kneading. The dough should start to pull away from the side of the bowl, looks shiny and has some elasticity to it.
It is completely normal that the dough is extremely soft as this is the nature of Tang Zhong dough. The dough should not, however, feel wet and is not pliable. If this is the case, simply add in a tablespoon of baker's flour while continuously kneading until the dough forms some elasticity or when you are able to stretch the dough thin enough to see through without ripping easily when tested on a small piece of the dough.