It being week 5 of a 5 week month, picking up an extra baking tin or a box of matcha wasn’t really an option, and ruled out about half of the recipes I thought of at the mention of Japanese week. After a quick consult of the books, I went back to Baking With Kim-Joy.
Hokkaido milk loaf or tangzhong bread is super popular in many countries, though it’s pretty unknown in Europe that I can see, at least under that title. It’s basically a super soft, fluffy bread that is often also quite sweet like brioche. I’ve been hunting for a good soft bread recipe that can be used for hot dog rolls or burger buns, but all my attempts so far have come out too crispy for my liking, for that purpose at least.
First up is making the tangzhong, and I’m back to boiling flour in a saucepan with milk, and desperately trying to get it to thicken without turning into lumpy goo.
This gets to chill in the fridge – overnight in my case – with clingwrap in contact with the surface as we don’t want a skin forming at all.
In other exciting news (well, I thought it was pretty cool) I recently found compostable cling wrap in the supermarket. I hate using wrap, but this is something I’ll definitely keep around. It sticks like that old school 80s wrap, i.e. to absolutely everything and itself.
As well as the super-hydrating tanzhong then, this dough also has both egg and butter involved, for maximum softness and moisture.
These are all mixed, with salt, sugar and yeast, and then flour is added in.
Ten minutes in the mixer, and I’ve got a soft and slightly tacky dough. I follow the directions and resist the urge to add a little more flour.
Into the warming drawer for a good rise. It more than doubled in an hour, but Boy Wonder decided to give knocking back a go literally seconds before I got my photo. Ah well.
Divide the dough into 65g balls, into a tin and add decorations. I decided to take a “belt and braces” approach, and both oiled my tin and added a parchment sling – I do this with nearly all bakes that aren’t in loose-bottomed tins. While the dough is slightly tacky, it’s absolutely lovely to work with. Super elastic and springy.
Back to the warming drawer for a second rise, with oiled cling wrap on top. Egg wash on, and in to the oven!
I don’t have an edible ink pen (though I’ve ordered a set now!) so this was a little “rustic” using gel food colouring and a fine paint brush. The smell is deeeeelicious, and I’m very happy I used that sling.
Sure, my ears and paws are a little post-modern, but how cute is this?
The bread itself is very soft and fluffy, but not cotton-woolly. It’s still very much proper bread, and I’ll definitely be making larger ones for an upcoming burger night.