Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hokkaido Milk Toast (with or without Tang Zhong)

Being a baking enthusiast, it is true that I'm very happy baking these breads...

When Lena from Frozen wings proposed baking Hokkaido milk toast as one of our bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours, I know that this is going to be an exciting bake for me!

Hokkaido milk toast (北海道牛奶麵包) is popular Asian bread which is well known for its beautiful soft-pillowy texture and sweet-milky taste. If you Google the word "Hokkaido Milk Toast", you will see this recipe from Christine's recipes which is always the first hit from the search. No doubt that this recipe is a highly rated recipe and many bloggers reckon that the success of Christine's recipe is due to the addition of Tang Zhong (汤种).

What is Tang Zhong (汤种)? It means water roux in Chinese language. It is Asian bread-making technique which believes that it can produce softer and fluffier breads without the addition of bread improver. Accordingly to this website, Tang Zhong is made by mixing 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water at 65°C to form a wet and cooked dough.

How Tang Zhong works? In theory, gluten in the bread flour fully absorbs moisture / water better at 65°C and become leavened. When Tang Zhong is added into bread doughs, it produce softer bread as it can retain extra moisture.

Does Tang Zhong really works? Previously, I have tried baking and comparing breads with and without another Asian bread-making technique, flour gelatinisation. Honestly, I have mixed feelings with flour gelatinisation and wouldn't change my opinion until now. I reckon that flour gelatinisation might work but strongly believe that having adequate proving time is equally important. To find out if Tang Zhong works, I'm also baking another highly reviewed Hokkaido milky loaf recipe by Angie's Recipes and her recipe does not contain any TangZhong at all. Both recipes are quite similar containing nice milky ingredients such as milk, milk powder and cream. The only significant difference is that Christine's recipe contains Tang Zhong and butter and Angie's Recipe doesn't. Please see the table below for better comparison.

Excited? I am. I need to enjoy the joy of these baking and taste goodness of these breads. And most importantly, I need to know too if Tang Zhong works for these bread baking...

Hokkaido Milk Toast Tang Zhong
Hokkaido milk toast - Indeed very soft and delicious!
These are wonderful ingredients of Hokkaido milk breads 
Bread doughs made with or without Tang Zhong (plus butter too)

Proving the Tang Zhong bread by Christine's recipes 
Proving the non-Tang Zhong one by Angie's Recipes  
Brush them both with egg wash and bake... 
Freshly baked breads - Can you tell if there is any difference?
Hokkaido milk toast made without Tang Zhong
Look! This bread without Tang Zhong is so soft and fluffy!
Hokkaido Milk Toast Tang Zhong
With Tang Zhong, the bread is equally good and fluffy! 

Here are our comments about Hokkaido Milk Toast with Tang Zhong:

Boy: Nice! This bread is like cotton!
Mum: Nice! I think this bread is softer.
Dad: Both are nice and taste the same...


Is the bread with Tang Zhong better? I do like the bread with Tang Zhong better. Both breads are good but I think the one made with Christine's recipe seems to slightly better. I might be wrong as I can't clearly tell any difference. Now, I'm asking myself if it is due to the presence of Tang Zhong butter in this bread. Our conclusion? Plausible! - Ops! We have been watching MythBusters too much - LOL!

Here are the recipes:
(with my modification and notes in blue)
  
*Some enzymes in milk can break down gluten and prevent the dough from rising. Due to this reason, some bread recipes prefer to use scalded milk because scalding milk deactivates these enzymes. For optimum results, I chose to use scalded milk to bake these breads.

Instructions from Christine's recipe 

To make Tang Zhong using Christine's method:

Mix flour in water (or milk) well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.

The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, this is the Tang Zhong. You might use a thermometer to check the temperature but this simple method has worked for Christine every time.

Remove from heat. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of Tang Zhong to prevent from drying up. Let it cool completely. Tang Zhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature. Measure out the amount you need. The leftover Tang Zhong can be stored in fridge up to days until next use. Chilled Tang Zhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients.

Add all ingredients (except butter) into a bread-maker, first the wet ingredients (milk, cream, egg, Tang Zhong and water), then followed by the dry ingredients (salt, sugar, milk powder, bread flour, yeast).

Select the “dough” mode. When all ingredients come together, stir in the melted (or softened) butter, continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. The time of kneading in the bread-maker is about 30 mins. Allow dough to complete the 1st round of proofing, about 40 mins (mine is 1 hr), best temperature for proofing is 28°C, humidity 75%, until double in size.

Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide into 3 equal portions. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 mins at room temperature.

Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Fold 1/3 from top edge to the middle and press. Then fold 1/3 from bottom to the middle and press. Turn seal downward. Roll flat and stretch to about 30cm in length. With seal upward, roll into a cylinder. With seal facing down, place in the loaf tins to have the 2nd round of proofing, until double in size. The best temperature for 2nd round proofing is 38°C, humidity 85%. Brush whisked egg (my egg wash: 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp evaporated milk + 1 tbsp milk) on surface. Bake in a pre-heated 180°C (or 160°C fan forced) oven for 30 to 35 mins (I baked mine for 30 mins) until turns brown. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

Instruction from Angie's Recipe

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand-mixer. Remember separate the yeast from salt and sugar to avoid the dehydration.

Knead until gluten is fully developed and the dough is elastic, smooth, non-sticky and leave from sides of mixing bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow the dough to ferment until double in size, about 60 mins.

Instead of using an electric mixer, I've used a bread-maker with dough setting to mix all ingredients of Angie's recipe. The dough was proved for 1 hr. 

Take out the dough and press out the gas produced during the proof. Divide it into 4 (or 3) portions. Round up and let rest for about 20 mins. Roll each dough out and roll up and place in a 13 x 33 x 12cm loaf pan (I used 11 x 21cm loaf pan to bake half the amount). After shaping, let the dough rise up to 2/3 full. Brush with egg wash or milk. Bake in a preheated 170°C (or 160°C fan forced) oven for about 40 mins. 

This is what I did:

Using a bread-maker, I've mixed all ingredients as listed in the table and knead both doughs using dough setting (similar to Christine's instructions). The amount used were half of both recipes. 

Both dough were first proved for 1 hr and then overnight in the fridge (stored in a covered glass containers - as shown in my picture).

On the next day, both dough were removed from the fridge and were adjusted to room temperature for about 2 hrs. The bread were then shaped according to Christine's instructions and proved for another hour with warmer temperature and high humidity.Brush both loaves with egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp evaporated milk + 1 tbsp milk) baked at 160°C fan forced for 30 mins. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Allow the loaves to cool completely before serving. 

Happy Baking
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Please note that the linky tool for bake-along is no longer available.

49 comments:

  1. Hi Zoe,
    I thought of making both breads, Angie's and Christine's! In the end I made only one, as I have been baking a lot of breads lately! Haha!
    Looks like the three of us have used Christine's recipes. It makes a soft and nice bread. Very good eaten with butter. I'm glad Lena has selected this theme too! :)

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  2. Just mouthwatering....looks delicious!

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  3. Home master baker and mythbuster at work. Thanks for showing the difference. I just baked the tangzhong method..

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  4. I used Angie's recipe and am very satisfied with the results. I'll try Christine's recipe next time:) Both your loaves looks equally good:)

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  5. wow wow woww !! this is indeed soo moist and fluffy...just very very tempting...and so neatly explained...Zoe..do drop by my pick quick blog to when you get the time. Hope you be a follower there as well...lets stay connected , the kitchen and beyond. http://pickquicks.blogspot.com/ regards

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  6. Hi .. I'm just wondering, did you compare the breads in the next day?
    I mean, did both breads stay fluffy?
    I wanted to bake one of those breads but haven't decided which one yet.

    Yuli

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    Replies
    1. Hi Yuli,

      I actually didn't compare both breads on the next day. We managed to finish one loaf first and freeze the other one and not too sure if they stay fluffy on the next day.

      Both bread are nice but I reckon the addition of butter makes the Christine's one nicer :p

      Zoe

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  7. Both the loaves look equally beautiful. I like how you tabled out the recipes side by side. Maybe, it's a little difficult to tell the difference between with or without tangzhong for this bread. I find bread that uses cream tend to have a softer texture even with straight dough method, just my 2 cents :)

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  8. Salute u for showing the difference.... Respect man

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  9. i also believe that the straight method of baking hokkaido produces great results too after reading some of the reviews. did you find that the one by tz method tends to stay softer longer in days compared to the one without ?

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  10. Really thoughtful and thorough post. I'm vaguely - vaguely! familiar with the idea of Tang Zhong, but haven't really thought much about it. Sounds as if I should. Thanks.

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  11. I totally trust you on that they’re delicious! I would SO try this!

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  12. Wow! Great post, Zoe! Great to know that we can make this bread without TZ method! I've try out Angie's recipe soon & maybe another Hokkaido Milk Bread ! :p

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  13. hi Zoe, your bread look so soft and nice! sadly can't join you all to bake or cook anything :(

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  14. Zoe, another research and development from you! Bread baking is unfamiliar territory for me, but not for long hopefully :)

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  15. Thanks for the comparison , Zoe ! Will try both recipe sometime :D Both bread certainly look wonderful !

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  16. Both your bread look very soft and beautiful. I tried baking bread with and without TZ and I don't see a very significant difference in both the bread. Lately I used the gelatinised dough together with the overnight sponge dough which i believe yield a much softer bread.

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  17. Milk toast is something completely different here - basically milk poured on bread. This looks way better!

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  18. I had try Christine's recipe and yes it really a great soft bread recipe. Will try recipe from Angie if have some whipping cream at home. Thanks for the information on both wonderful bread recipes.

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  19. Thanks for the very comprehensive write-up and the comparison table of both recipes, Zoe. My first time joining in the fun of a Bake Along, hopefully I got the linky correct. :)

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  20. Hi Zoe,
    I baked with Angie's recipe, it is a wonderful soft bread. Have been baking with her recipe for quite sometimes. Have not try Christine's tang zhong yet. Will try out hers soon.
    Thanks for sharing the comparison.

    mui

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  21. Oh my, they both look wonderful! I'd love to try this bread! I have so many things on my list of "to make or to bake" that I doubt I'd get through them all in a year even if I made one a day! :(

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  22. Hi Zoe, I admire your experimental skills by trying out both tangzhong and non tangzhong recipe. I am a big fan of tangzhong too. But when I first started, some recipes called for different amount of tangzhong. When I started of with plucking any amount of flour and multiply with 5 parts of water to go with it, i noticed that I do have some wastage. So I came up with a dummy proof formula to derive closest to tangzhong's weight your recipe calls for. Dedicated to all tangzhong fans, http://jusbakingclass.blogspot.sg/2014/01/the-tangzhong-technique-and-formula-in.html

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  23. Hi zoe, I like to try your recipe using tangzhong method above. Just to reconfirm, we only need so little just 42 gram of tangzhong for the 1 loaf recipe?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jessica,

      I think I have a typo error in my table. It should be 92g which is half the amount in the recipe.Thanks for highlighting this to me and I will change the table accordingly.

      Zoe

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  24. Hello. I don't have bread flour (i don't know what this mean? what type of flour is it? some number?) What flour use for this bread?

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    1. Hi Anna,

      Bread flour is flour that contains high amount of protein / gluten which is essential in some bread recipes as it gives extra strength for some bread to rise properly. Bread flour can be labelled as strong flour in some supermarket shelves and all you need to check is the protein content of the flour which is usually 11 to 14g per 100g. Sorry that I don't really understand what you mean asking me for number?

      Cheers!

      Zoe

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    2. Thank you for your response. In my country, the numbers are the names of bread. For example, cake flour has the number 450 (which means ash).
      I understand that bread flour has to be wheat? We have wheat flour and rye. Unfortunately, the amount of protein in the flour is not marked on the packages.

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    3. Hi Anna,

      I'm sorry that I have absolutely no idea at all which number of flour you should use. Bread flour is plain wheat flour with no wholemeal or rye and has higher gluten content than ordinary all purpose flour. If you can't distinguish the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour by their nutritional content, I guess there is nothing much I can suggest to help. Sorry!

      Zoe

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    4. Zoe, You helped me a lot. You are a wonderful person :)
      Yesterday I searched 3 stores, I found the wheat flour with 15 grams of protein, but whole grain. It may be that? It is very finely milled.
      I was looking for information on the protein content and in my country standard amount of protein in flour is 9-10 grams. One wheat flour (not whole wheat) is 12 or 11 grams .. This flour with 11-12 grams of protein can be? is it enough?
      I need to bake the bread that will not have air bubbles and the structure is like cotton candy. I have a panda sandwich maker and plain bread is bad (hard and bubbles).

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    5. Hi Anna,

      The bread flour that I usually use has 12.5g protein in every 100g. It is finely milled and has no whole grain. In contrast, the all purpose flour that I usually use has 9.5g protein in every 100g and it is finely milled with no whole grain. Hope that these information can help you to buy the right flour at your place.

      Yes that I would strongly recommend these bread recipes. They are really fantastic. Please try them and you see good results like mine :D

      Good luck!

      Zoe

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    6. I was looking for and found it! 12 grams of protein. Thank you :)
      Yesterday I baked the bread from flour with 11 grams of protein, without tang zhong. It is delicious! Next time I'll use this with 12 grams of protein and I will use zhong tang.
      Thank You soooooo much!!!!

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    7. Hi Anna,

      I'm happy that you have found the right flour to use and also have great result baking the without Tang Zhong recipe. In fact, both breads are really good but the one with Tang Zhong is slightly softer and I suspect that it is the presence of the butter that makes the difference. Nevertheless, happy baking!!!

      Zoe

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  25. Hi Anna,
    Can the dough be kept in the fridge for 2 to 3 days before taking out to prove it and bake it again.

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      You must be mistaken... I'm Zoe, not Anna :p

      Yes that you can keep the dough in the fridge for a day or two but it has to be tightly sealed so that the dough will not lose its moisture. However, I wouldn't keep the dough for too long in the fridge as the yeast will deteriorate and lose it capability to prove again. I reckon that it is best to keep the dough for just overnight. Cheers!

      Zoe

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  26. Impressive!! Next time bring some to Singapore. ;]

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  27. Hi,

    May I know what differences should I adopt if I would like to bake using bread maker instead? Do I just add in all the ingredients (with tangzhong separately cooked and cooled) into the bread maker to let it does its job? Do I choose plain bread menu for that?
    And, what is the intention of adding butter last?

    Thanks,
    Jason

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jason,

      I prefer to use breadmaker to knead and proof because it is temperature controlled. When the weather is too cold in Melbourne, the bread dough will require a longer time to prove and kneading the dough in a bread maker helps. Yes, all you need is to add all the ingredients according to the order as mentioned in your bread maker operational instruction and it should work. You can use dough setting for just kneading and proving.

      For bread dough kneading, butter is usually added last after a rough dough has formed by the gelling reaction of liquid and flour. Then, butter is then kneaded into the dough for the next 15-20 mins to allow the fat to be absorbed into the dough.

      Good luck with your baking. Cheers!

      Zoe

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  28. Hi Zoe , I tried making cranberry milk bread using ur recipe but twice the centre came out uncooked. Is there a step I might hv done wrongly

    Cici

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cici,

      You might wish to check your oven temperature with a thermometer and also settings and also bake your loaves a little longer. Depending on brands and model, some ovens might work differently from others. Some bakers use a thermometer to check the inside temperature of the loaves to ensure that they are fully cooked and you might wish to do this if you are not very sure.

      Zoe

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  29. Hi Zoe,

    Quick question, how much longer shld I bake if using a pullman tin? shld I just try to bake it at higher temperature instead? thanks :)

    Julie

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    Replies
    1. Hi Julie,

      I usually bake all my 10cm x 20cm bread (with or without pullan lids) at 160 degrees fan forced for 30 mins. Depending on the bread recipe, some with higher amount of butter and sugar will produce a darker crust if you bake them in higher temperature.

      I have not baked this recipe in a pullman tin and can't really tell what is the most optimum temperature to use for square loaves baking? However, if I'm going to bake this recipe as square loaves, I will bake them the same like what I mentioned earlier.

      Zoe

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  30. I would like to use fresh (wet) yest. Can you tell me the quantity to be used in gms.
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I have not tried using fresh yeast to bake with this recipe before but according to my conversion, you should be able to use 15g of fresh yeast to replace 1 1/4 tsp dried yeast. Hope that you will have great success baking this recipe with fresh yeast. Happy baking.

      Zoe

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  31. Hi, I'm wondering the purpose of the cake flour in Angie's recipe. I would really like to know if texture becomes hard the next day, thanks. Loving your blog.

    Helen

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    Replies
    1. Hi Helen,
      Some bakers like Angie like to mix in a small amount of cake flour to make their breads because cake flour is known to be more finely milled than bread flour and they also prefer less gluten in their breads. To be honest, all breads will deteriorate on the next day of bake but some tends to preserve their texture better. I must say that these breads are pretty good but can't say that they are the best that I have tried so far. Cheers!

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