Hakkaido Bread: Tangzhong method

This month has just vanished in the thin!! Our household has been suffering from flu which has jolted us terribly. First it was my son and as I tended his needs, I caught the bug very soon. All in all for 3 weeks, we were living amongst hot water bag, decongestants, vicks vaporub, paracetamols and antibiotics for my baby:(  During this, the only respite was the thought about “We knead to Bake” I am terrible when it comes to bread baking. However, Aparna’s monthly event is giving me the courage to bake them and try the path which I have trodden less:) As soon as I was on the mend, the first thing I did was worked on the Tangzhong for my bread …Hakkaido Bread.

Aparna writes in her notes about Hakkaido Bread:

Hakkaido 1

This month we’re making Hokkaido Milk Bread which is known for its soft cottony/ pillowy texture. Apparently it’s very popular bread in South Asian bakeries across the world. It is also known as Asian Sweet Bread and Hong Kong Pai Bo. Some people say this is a Japanese bread while others say it’s because the milk used in this bread is from Japan while some others have suggested its pure white colour and the texture resemble the pristineness of Hokkaido!

The Hokkaido Mild Bread owes its texture and height to the use of an interesting ingredient called Tangzhong. Basically, the Tangzhong method involves cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water (by weight) at 65°C (149 °F) to form a roux.

At 65°C, the gluten in the bread flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and create a “leavening” action. When the Tangzhong is added into other ingredients of a bread dough, it produces light, tender and fluffier bread.

This method of using Tangzhong is often seen in South Asian breads and was created by a Chinese woman, Yvonne Chen, who describes this method in her book which translates to “65 degrees Bread Doctor” .

Hakkaido 2


For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

For The Dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp sugar

1tsp salt

2 tbsp powdered milk

2 tsp instant dried yeast

1/2 cup milk (and a little more if needed)

1/8 cup cream (25% fat)

1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)

1/4 tsp salt

25gm unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)


The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux):

Whisk together lightly the flour and water in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.

If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/ tangzhong till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If like me, you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.

Let the roux/ tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.

The Bread Dough:

I made this dough in the food processor. This dough can be made by hand but the dough is a bit sticky and can take some time and effort to knead by hand. If you have some sort of machine which will do the kneading for you, use it. Don’t punish yourself. And do not add more flour to make it less sticky either!

Put the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and instant yeast in the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix. In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add to the processor bowl. Run on slow speed until the dough comes together. Now add the butter and process till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky.

The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of tsps of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away. When it does break, the break should be form a circle.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.

Place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough.  I rolled them into normal muffin size balls and placed them in muffin trays. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for another 45 minutes.

Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and bake them at 170C (325F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.

hakkaido 3

My son loved the small sized, soft muffin shaped bread rolls and vanished with them while they were warm. I had to save some for the photographs. These taste amazing with a dollop of butter spread on them.

I plan to bake some more of these muffin shaped bread as they are so handy for breakfasts!! I must thank Aparna for this event which is allowing me to try out different types of bread. Here is wishing everyone a healthy and happy life….


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