Bread lovers have heard a lot about tangzhong, the famous Asian technique for making the softest dough ever. Unsurprisingly, this technique has quickly become popular among western bakers as well.
Incorporating the tangzhong method into your recipes makes bread dough or rolls even softer and more tender, and more importantly, it helps them stay fresh for days. Once you try this technique, you’ll never go back to the old ways.
What is the Tangzhong Method?
The tangzhong method is a bread method that involves pre-cooking flour and liquid (water or milk) to make a slurry mixture before you add the rest of the ingredients to the dough. It is a simple technique in which flour and milk or water are whisked together on a heated stovetop to gelatinize the starches and ultimately make the bread super tender and moist.
Tangzhong is similar to the yudane technique, which is a Japanese method for making a similar mixture (yudane means water roux). The difference between the two is that tangzhong involves cooking the flour and liquid over medium heat while in the yudane method, you pour boiled water over flour and mix it until combined and then let rest.
Also, the flour-water ratio in the yudane technique is usually 1:1 while in tangzhong it’s 1:5 although this percentage can be altered depending on the recipe you’re using.
However, the result is quite similar and both methods act to gelatinize starches in the dough. Both methods create moist, super soft loaves or rolls that stay tender for many days.
What Makes the Bread Soft and Fluffy?
The secret to soft and fluffy bread has always been yeast. Yeast helps transform the sugars present in the dough into carbon dioxide and as a result, the dough doubles in size. This fermentation of sugars creates bubbles in the dough which help make it fluffy and soft.
Of course, store-bought bread contains added chemicals which make it extra fluffy. It is almost impossible to make such soft bread at home which also stays fresh for days.
However, Asian style bread has always appeared to be even more tender and soft than regular yeast bread. This is because of the tangzhong method which not only makes bread extra soft but also keeps it fresh and tender for days. This type of bread stays fresh much longer when compared to regular homemade bread.
The tangzhong method causes the starches to gelatinize which means they can absorb more water. More liquid means a softer loaf with an extended shelf-life. Dough made using the tangzhong method contains more water and as a result, it rises higher and remains moist for days. It is also easier to work with this dough as it is less sticky.
How Do You Make Tangzhong?
Making tangzhong or pre-cooked flour is not complicated at all. Here is how you make this slurry mixture.
For one loaf of bread mix a bit of flour and five times more liquid (water or milk). Use measuring cups if necessary.
- 10g of all-purpose flour
- 50ml of water or milk
Mix the liquid and the flour until combined. Continue stirring over medium heat until a creamy paste is formed. Try to avoid lumps by whisking the mixture constantly. Stir about 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.
Once tangzhong has cooled down, add the remaining ingredients and make the dough. When making tangzhong, it is recommended that you use all-purpose flour because the loaf is softer and stays fresh longer when compared to using other types of dough.
Tip: The loaf will be equally soft and fluffy whether you use water or milk. However, if you want a bit more flavorful loaf or dinner roll, you should use milk.
Can you Make Tangzhong for Later Use?
Yes, you can. You can use your tangzhong as soon as it cools down completely or you can store it in the refrigerator for several days. Make sure to use your tangzhong within 2-3 days max.
How to Use the Tangzhong Method in the Bread Machine?
If you prefer to make your loaves using a bread maker, don’t worry, you can still apply the tangzhong method even though you’re not hand-making your bread.
To make tangzhong style bread in a bread machine, make the tangzhong and let it cool. Prepare all the other ingredients and place them in the loaf tin. Finally, add the yeast and select the suitable bread cycle.
You can also use the bread machine just for kneading the dough if you want. The bread maker is much better at this part than we can ever be so you can use the machine to prepare the dough and then transfer it to your oven to bake.
Many people use this method because they prefer the taste, crust, and texture of bread baked in an oven when compared to bread maker loaves. They also want to avoid ending up with a deflated bread in the middle.
Tip: If you’re using this method, check on the dough consistency while it’s being mixed in the machine. If it’s too dry, you must add a bit of liquid and vice versa.