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I’ve never tasted this strange and interesting ‘Hokkaido Milk Bread’, ever. The thing that drew me to it was the promise of a soft, light moist loaf that would stay that way for up to 3 days – this could only be achieved by using the tangzhong method. This is essentially a water-flour roux heated to 65C before being added to the rest of the dough. Wow, it was amazing. The bread rose perfectly, evenly and had the famed chewy-soft texture. Pillowy-soft, plush and incredibly fluffy. There was also a distinct milky aroma and lingering sweetness to the loaf (thankfully, not too rich or overpowering). Worlds apart from those hearty, artisanal breads, but still sooo good in its own way. It you love those lightly sweetened, fluffy white Japanese-style breads, this is definitely for you!

Hokkaido Milk Bread
adapted from the recipe here
2 3/4 cups organic high-protein bread flour
3 tbsp
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 large organic egg
1/2 cup milk
120 g tangzhong (about 1/2 of the mixture below)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp powdered milk

For the tangzhong:
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water

Prepare the tangzhong: Whisk the flour and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, until it thickens. Turn of the flame when the mixture hits 65C. Let it cool. For the bread dough: Combine the all ingredients, except the butter, in a bowl of a standing mixer. Add in the cooled tangzhong mixture. Mix to combine before kneading it with the hook attachment. Knead away. Add in the butter and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should not longer be sticky but just slightly tacky. Let the dough proof in a covered bowl for 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Once rise, divide the dough into 6 portions.
Forming the bread: For each ball of dough, roll out each portion with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Take one end of the dough and fold it to meet the middle of the oval, then take the other end and fold it to meet the middle. Flip the doughs over with the folds facing down and flatten with a rolling pin. Roll out the doughs until they form thin rectangles – make sure they are about the same size. Place one rectangle on top of the other and begin rolling up the dough along the wide/ long side of the rectangle so you end up with a long skinny roll rather than a short and fat one. Place the roll in a tin, lined with parchment paper, spacing them out. Let the dough rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled. Brush the tops with an eggwash, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 180C for 30 min, when it becomes slightly golden. Cool and devour!