Today might be my most historical day in the bread making, as I managed to make fluffy bread! I am beyond happy and I can tell you that I enjoy hand kneading by now 🙂 It is such a serene activity when you kneading your dough, slowly examining whether it has grown up yet, also believing in your dough (and yourself) that it will get smooth and elastic.
After many experiments on different kind of bread making method when I’m at the hot and humid Jakarta, I believe conventional kneading and incorporating tangzhong is the best way to have super soft bread. Basically, tangzhong is a water roux, made by cooking flour and water on a small heat until it makes thick slurry. This roux will help bread retain its moisture for days. Even with no eggs, no bread improver, but it does resulting beautiful breads.
If you have any champion bread recipe, don’t be afraid to add tangzhong, just substract one or two tablespoon of flour from your recipe, as well some water. However, too much tangzhong could lead some difficulties when handling the bread. So, keep an eyeball on how much tangzhong needed to be incorporate.
I’m using recipe from King Arthur Flour’s on Japanese Milk Bread Rolls, with a few modification due to humidity and temperature.
THIS RECIPE VS. ORIGINAL RECIPE
This recipe uses the same ingredients as the King Arthur Flour’s on Japanese Milk Bread Rolls with a few small changes:
1. I have omit the eggs from original recipe. Though the bread has no eggs, it is still rise beautifully and have soft texture for days. If you prefer to have eggs in your bread, be careful on measure the milk or water, because eggs also accounted as liquid ingredients. King Arthur Flour wrote 1 large eggs, around 56 grams. Hence, the total liquid in the original recipe around 170 grams.
2. After first proofing, I gently knead the dough for 2 minutes which made the dough back to its elastic stances. On my experiment without this quick knead, the bread tends to have brittle and dry crumbs.
3. It is better to half the original recipe for your first date with tangzhong, for the sake exercise. You would be surprise that even 150 grams of flour could make you sweat, let alone 300 grams as in the original recipe.
Here, I’ve made two savoury breads, floss and cheese [yummmm!].
From left to right:
 After 15 minutes of mixing and kneading. Bread dough is looking wet.
 Another 15 minutes of kneading, then a window pane test. Translucent, so kneading is done.
 Sleeping time for cute baby dough [after those violent kneading and slamming :p]
 Portioning, second proofing, and getting ready for oven party.
 Fresh from the oven! Look at those soft bread crumbs!
 Ready to serve 🙂
Soft Bread Rolls (make 6 pieces @50 gr)
– 1 tbsp of bread flour
– 6 tbsp of water
Bread dough ingredients:
– 150 gr bread flour
– 25 gr granulated sugar
– 80 mL liquid, milk and eggs (optional)
– 1 tsp instant yeast
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 25 gr butter/ margarine
1. Whisk well tangzhong ingredients, then put on a small heat until it thickens. Microwave on a low power will also do. This will yield around two tablespoon of tangzhong. Cool it to room temperature before use.
2. On a clean bowl, combine tangzhong, dry, and liquid ingredients (excluding butter). Mix and knead until smooth.
3. Incorporate butter and knead until translucent. Use window pane test to determine the dough elasticity.
*NOTE: It took me 30 minutes from mixing to finish kneading. However, by giving yourself and the dough a 10 minutes rest after adding in the butter, you could save kneading time to 20 minutes. The gluten in the dough will develop by itself in the 10 minutes timeframe, hence the dough would be more workable.
4. Proof dough in a thin greased bowl for 60-90 minutes in room temperature (25 degree Celcius), or until double in size. Don’t dwell on time much, keep an eye on your dough. Dough is ready for the next step when you poke deep to the dough, it does not spring back.
5. Gently deflate the dough and lightly knead for 2 minutes. Divide to 6 pieces of dough balls, around 50 gr each for medium size bread. Go for 25 gr for small and 75 gr for large size bread. Let it rest for 10 minutes, cover with a clean towel/ cling wrap.
6. Shape each balls to desired shapes and filling. Final proof for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven for minimum 20 minutes.
*NOTE: To check whether the dough is ready, lightly poke the sides. If it springs back quickly, then it needs longer proof.
7. Brush bread with milk, then bake in a preheated oven in 180 degree Celcius for 15-20 minutes. Again, keep an eye on it. If the bread has browned on top, then cover with aluminium foil and continue.
8. Quickly brush butter on top of the hot rolls. Let the breads cool down on the pan for 10 minutes, then move to the cooling rack. It’s ready for various topping or enjoy warm with butter and jam!
Cut rolls in half, then smear a mixture of mayonnaise and sweetened condensed milk (2:1), then place floss in the middle of the rolls. Alternatively, put floss on top of the rolls.
Soft Bread Loafs (make 2 pieces @100 gr)
Same ingredients, same step 1-4.
5. Gently deflate the dough, divide to 2 pieces @100 gr, make round dough balls. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
6. Make a long rectangle with one of the dough balls, flip, then make an envelope by folding two sides to the center, and roll to make a log. Cover and rest for 10 minutes before repeating this step.
7. Put the dough in the greased loaf pan and proof for 40-60 minutes.
8. Brush with milk, bake for 25-30 minutes, cool it down. I’d prefer to cut it a day after, so the bread crumb has completely cooled and it would be have better appearance and shelf life.