Another bread experiment

30 August 2018
I've been test baking bread this week. I've wanted to try Japanese milk bread for a long time and finally baked my own on Monday. It was always described as very soft and fluffy bread that had excellent keeping qualities so I thought it would be a good bread to have in my repertoire of bakes.  


The bread has something in common with sour dough in that you prepare a starter before you bake and include it with the ingredients. This starter is called TangZhong, a mixture of flour, milk and water, cooked and allowed to cool to room temperature. It helps the bread retain moisture and is the reason it stays fresh longer. This is the recipe I followed.






The bread looked great, was very easy to cut with my serrated bread knife, Hanno liked the taste but I didn't. It was much too sweet.  I hesitated when I looked at the amount of sugar stated in the recipe (60g/¼ cup), I put in half that amount and it was still too sweet.  I want bread mainly for breakfast toast, so I'm eating eggs or baked beans with the toast and I don't want it to be sweet.  Other than the sweetness, it was a good bread.



I don't like giving up after only one try so I decided to use the TangZhong with my normal bread recipe.   The bread tasted good, I had to estimate how much less water to add, and I think I got it right. The texture was a little more spongy than my normal bread and it's softer the day after baking than the bread I usually bake. But I don't need bread that stays fresh because I make small loaves now and generally use it for toast. So I'm walking away from Japanese milk bread. It was a good experiment, I've learned another skill in that I can make TangZhong, but I'll be staying with my all purpose loaf for the time being.  I've been baking that bread for a long time now and it looks like I'll stay with it for another few years.

23 comments

  1. Interesting! I have never heard of it before.

    I'm working on getting the perfect sourdough loaf...I read about "floating" the starter in a glass of water prior to baking from Sally at Jembella farm, much like you do to check if an egg has gone bad. If it floats it is ready to bake with, a tip that is helping immensely! Bread is so interesting to bake, endless combinations and techniques. I recently made naan bread to go with a curry and we decided the recipe I used was likely not quite a traditional one, so I will have to keep on looking for a better one. It had eggs in it which I thought was quite odd, but it was an interesting experiment and did a good job of mopping up curry juices none the less! xx

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  2. It's always good to try the new. I hadn't heard of this type, but I guess every culture has its version of sourdough.

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  3. Interesting post, Rhonda, it reminded me a little of brioche with it's soft texture and sweetness, thank you for 'blazing the trail' for us ;) xxx

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  4. It's good to experiment and share the results Rhonda so I will remember your opinion on that bread. I have to say I still prefer my sourdough recipe, even though then it is a temptation to eat too much of it. Thanks for sharing, Pauline

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  5. Good on you for giving it a try Rhonda, and interesting to read your honest opinion. I noticed the bread was always sweet in India, Nepal and some other Asian countries, almost as if they read the recipe from England, and decided to substitute the salt for sugar. XX

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  6. looks great. Alas, my oven quit so now I have to buy my bread.

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  7. Thank you for the post--I had never heard of this type of bread. I will give it a try, perhaps doing some research to see if there's a less sweet version. Also, I wonder if there's a recipe for a bread machine using this?

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  8. Oh, I loved that bread when I was working in Japan. I remember it being very moist and sweet. It was kind of like a dessert. I bet your grandkids would love it. Yours looks perfect. The New York Times No Knead Bread seems to stay moist for me. I use all white flour, though. I can't eat it anymore, but I have happy memories of it.

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  9. I've not heard of it before. I'm definitely adding to my list of recipes to try x x

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  10. Rhonda,
    I’m intrigued by the way you have put the dough in the pan. Does that give you 3 mini loaves when you take it out? My husband always wants “fresh bread” and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to have a full-sized slice from a smaller loaf.
    Best,
    Chris

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    1. Chris, it comes out as one loaf but it's easy to break apart.

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  11. Does the starter make more than 1/2 cup? What do you do with the rest of the starter? 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup looks like it would make more than 1/2 cup starter?

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    1. Alice, you either make two loaves or halve the amounts.

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  12. I have been working on recipes a long time...maybe to put in print one day...but they are gluten free. I found out about making things with this Japanese method too and used it in making some gluten free cinnamon buns...seemed to help greatly!
    Elizabeth

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  13. I love making bread and have been wanting to try this one, maybe not as a breakfast loaf though if it is so sweet. I have seen the method used to make fruit bread and I think that would be my preference for a sweet dough. Yours does look so soft and lovely with a beautiful rise, I think I know what I'll be baking over the weekend :) Kate (Tassie)

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    1. Fruit bread is a great idea for this recipe. I'll give it a go this weekend too. thanks. kate (melbourne)

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  14. No matter how old we get it is always good to be learning and trying new things. Some we like and keep on doing them and others we don't so we pop it away and say "i gave it a go but it was not for me" I am adjusting the recipe i make by hand and am adding wheatgerm and bran flakes to give it more fibre. I also adjusted it once before and added butter to the knead and the bread is softer and lasts longer.

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  15. Thanks for this information on Japanese milk bread Rhonda. It's been on my 'to do' list for a while but I'm not a natural at baking like you are and so I really have to be in the mood to try stuff like this. I'm not a fan of sweet loaves like brioche, etc so perhaps this wouldn't be to my liking either, although I love the look of it and the texture. I wonder if you had put even less sugar in, whether it would make a difference to the final product. Anyhow, this was very interesting reading and as always, your baking looks fabulous.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Sounds like just the thing for school lunches because the bread machine bread doesn't stay fresh for long enough, although a little concerned about the sweetness. Will have to experiment ;-) Thanks Rhonda.
    Kate @ Rapunzels Wild garden

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  17. My wife and daughters being of Jewish extraction make Challah on Fridays which also is sweet. It makes the most wonderful French toast for breakfast on Saturday morning, so I'm wondering if this bread would also suit that too.

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  18. Just last week I started a gluten-free sourdough starter. I am loving the regularity of feeding and watching, waiting for it to be ready. Today was the day. I have bread dough rising, tucked away in the oven and we had our first batch of sourdough pancakes with a side of bacon and herbal tea. It can so rewarding to take that leap and do something old-fashioned and yet new to me.

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  19. I'm quite curious about your bread tins with the tiny holes all over. I've never seen that before--only solid bread baking tins. I would think that holes would let some steam out...so...that must change things in the baking. Interesting. I'll have to go do some reading!

    And I've never even heard of this bread style so, excellent, thanks for that. My hubby loves to play around with different breads. I'll have to ask if he's heard of it.

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    1. Hi BLD, the holes are supposed to help give a crispy crust but I don't think there's any difference between that tin and my other bread tins. :- )

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