Ideally when you are trying to make bread at home, what are you looking for? Yes good smell in the kitchen is one factor but doesn’t it make you super happy when the bread is crusty from the top but super soft from inside.
Thats what this recipe would yield. In only 2.5 hours, you will get this super soft milk bread which would be accompanied by this flavourful crunchy and tasty sesame crust. This bread goes well with both sweet and savoury spreads including but not limited to jams, cream cheese, Nutella etc.
This recipe calls for tangzhong which is essentially a roux made of flour and water. To make the gooey mixture, simply add below mentioned quantities of both water and flour on a small saucepan and place it over low to medium heat.
The idea is to keep stirring this mixture so there are no lumps in the mixture. Over a period of time the mixture would thicken. It will only take 5-10 minutes to reach that stage. Take it off heat at this moment and keep it aside to cool down before mixing it with the dough.
It activates the Gluten even before you mix your flour with other ingredients leaving a much much stronger bind. It also creates the super soft texture in your loaf and helps in better preservation of the bread as well.
Working with Yeast
YEAST is nothing to be scared about, it’s honestly not Rocket Science. I use Active Dry Instant Yeast. If you’re using Fresh Yeast, just double the quantity. Here are a few tips which will help you to learn about yeast. I use Active Dry Instant Yeast.
Water: Only use Warm Water when trying to activate yeast. Both hot and cold water will kill the yeast. Use Lukewarm Water!
Salt vs Sugar: Sugar helps the yeast to activate, to make it frothy and to give a better rise. Whilst, salt is the opposite, it’s an anti-agent. Salt should only be incorporated in the dough towards the final stages of it
Proofing: YES IT REQUIRES PATIENCE! You need to find a warm place, a Switched Off oven is the best place to proof your bread. In areas where it’s generally cold or during Winters, it will take longer to proof say about a little bit more than an hour. But during Warm Climate or/and Humid Weather, it will take relatively shorter, close to around 40 minutes.
Enough about yeast! All I am saying is it’s nothing to be scared about. If you want to learn more about the rising agent, click here to take you to Yeast 101.
Understanding Milk Loaf
It is made of a rich dough. The dough constitutes eggs, sugar, milk, tangzhong and yeast as mentioned above. This dough churns out breads which are soft and fluffy from the inside but crusty from the outside. Sesame is typically not a part of Japanese Milk Loaf but I absolutely love the toasty flavours of white sesames on my crust. I have made this recipe with and without Sesame and trust me, adding sesame seeds is a game changer.
This dough asks you to divide the dough in pieces of 3 better texture, shape and feel. More about it can be found written below.
Dividing the Loaf
In order to yield a traditional Japanese Milk Loaf – its important to shape it properly. In order to shape the dough, divide the dough into 3 equal parts and repeat the same steps for each.
Start by taking a third of the dough and flatten it slightly using flour and a rolling pin. Just having rolling pin go on it 5-6 times shall be enough. Then fold on edge of the dough towards the centre. Next, fold the other edge and pass it over the fold of the edge making it a log with a layer inside it. It might sound a bit tricky reading about it but its quite easy. Just two folds on both sides of the edges to make a log.
Repeat the step for all 3 part and place them on a well oiled baking tin.
- Stand Mixer (Optional)
- Cup Measurers and Spoon
- 9*5 Inch Loaf Pan
- Weighing Scale
To make Tangzhong
- 25 g or 2 tbsp Bread Flour
- 90 ml or 6 tbsp Water
For the Dough
- 300 g or 2 cups + 2 tbsp Bread Flour
- 7 g or 2 tsp Active Dry Instant Yeast
- 120 ml or 120 ml Lukewarm Milk
- 30 g or 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter softened
- 7 g or 2 tsp Salt
- 28 g or 2 tbsp Caster Sugar
- 1 Egg room temperature
- 1 Egg Yolk you won't need to use all, just a bit
- 1-2 tbsp Sesame Seeds white preferably
- 2-3 Cubes of Ice to generate steam in the oven
To make Tangzhong
- Take a small pan and add the Water and the Flour to it. Mix well before turning on the heat. Keep mixing constantly until there are no visible lumps.
- Warm the paste over Low-Medium heat until it starts to thicken, stirring consistently. Set the pan aside for it to cool down
To make the Dough
- Take a bowl, whisk together Sugar, Yeast and Some of the Milk and let it sit to Froth properly.
- Next, take the cooled-down Tangzhong and mix it with egg. Mix this really well!
- Add the Flour and put it onto a Plain Surface and make a well (alternatively, you may use a stand mixer as well). Add the Yeast Mixture and the Tangzhong Mixture to it.
- Start kneading the dough, add all the milk you got. Keep kneading while amalgamating Butter & Salt into the dough until it comes together to form a tight ball.
- Next, put the dough in a well oiled bowl, cling wrap it or cover it using a cheesecloth. Set it aside in a switched off oven or a microwave for 45 minutes or until double in size.
- After 45 minutes, knock back the dough and divide it into three equal parts. At this point you would need to start shaping the loaf. Read above to understand in detail about this process.
- Take your first part and flatten it using a rolling pin and some flour. You can do it roughly and you don't need to make it thin, just enough so its a small flat surface. Pull the top edge towards the centre and pull the bottom edge overtaking the top edge thereby making a log. Repeat this for all three parts.
- In a well oiled, loaf tray of 9*5 inch, put the three dough parts next to each other and leave it aside in a switched off oven or microwave to proof for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough is proofed (either single or double), egg wash it. To egg wash, just lightly beat the egg and brush it on top of the loaf. Add a bunch of sesame seeds as well at this point.
To Bake the Bread
- Preheat your oven to 170°C and add a small glass microwave-safe bowl on the base of your oven. If your oven has a steam function, you can ignore this step but most residential ovens don't.
- Once preheated, add in the loaf tin to second or third shelf depending upon the oven. Baking at 170°C for 35-40 minutes.
- While adding in the bread, throw in 2-3 ice cubes into the bowl, and closing the oven quickly to generate steam in order to make the bread crusty.
- If it browns too fast, cover it with foil. Insert a toothpick or a Cake Tester to the centre to check if it's done or not! Turn onto a cooling rack to cool before slicing. Be Patient
Someone once rightly said “a recipe has no soul, you must bring soul to the recipe”, so here I am, trying to bring my passion for food into easy to make recipes from around the world.
My name is Sohail Nath and I welcome you to my happy place, @boy.eatsworld.
This blog, my creativity’s nest covers travel inspirations, authentic yet homemade recipe and food blogs.