My Baking Challenge, Autumn #8

I can’t believe I’m on the eighth week of this challenge!  I am really happy I chose to blog about it.  I’ve been tempted to be lazy a few times and I’m sure I’d have given in, if I didn’t have to tell you all about it.

This week’s recipe is the Hokkaido Milk Toast (Tangzhong method) from one of my favourite Aussie food bloggers.

Mr Meagre and I got married in Singapore nearly a decade ago now, and one of the things I still miss about that place is the food.  I just love the variety — from the multitude of curries (Thai, Indian, Malaysian), to the noodles (Mee Siam and Char Kway Teo are my favourites), and rice dishes (Nasi Goreng and Nasi Lemak).  They do have the usual meat-and-three vege of course, but I don’t recall seeing much of it at the hawker’s centres…

And then there is the bread.  Soft, fluffy, milky bread that comes plain, or topped with anything from pork floss to sprinkles, and even wrapped around a frankfurt sometimes.  I remember grabbing a few from nearly any corner bakery or mall outlet, and the bread would always stay soft for days on end.  I never understood how they did it until I discovered baking with tangzhong.

Hokkaido Milk Toast from Christine’s Recipes. Brushed with milk and baked for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. The dough filled a 1-1/2 lb bread tin and it is a nice, big size for sandwiches and toasties.

I made a few changes to the recipe,  Firstly, I used plain flour with about two teaspoons of gluten flour, or what other American sites call vital wheat gluten.  And then there is the amount of eggs (I made do with one egg plus an eggwhite I had left over from another dish).  I also substituted cream with milk and a bit of softened butter.

The tangzhong needs to cool a bit before being added to the dough. Everytime I make this, I remember the paste that my grandmother used to make when were young. It looks like that gluppy liquid that she used when we tore pages off a directory and turned them into paper envelopes, akin to “doggie bags” or brown paper lunch bags. I think the ironing starch was pretty much the same method, too — I hate ironing so don’t quote me on that.
After the first rise, the dough is split into three, rolled out and folded according to her instructions.
Flipped over and rolled from the nice side…
and flipped back on the wrong side to be curled up into a snail. As I rolled the dough, it felt strangely familiar… supple and smooth, like something I’d worked on very recently, but couldn’t quite place.

Three snails done. I should have known myself well enough to bring out my electronic scales, instead of simply dividing the dough the way she does.
The temperature was a cool 18 degrees Celsius outside, no doubt cooler in the kitchen. I used the hot-water-in-sink method and started to preheat when the snails touched each other, and the sides of the pan.
By the time my oven was ready, the dough looked like this. Against the side of the pan in the lower part of the photo, you can just see the “stretch”…
A milk brush and half an hour later, the bread was done. I couldn’t resist a sideways photo — doesn’t the snail shape just look so quaint and charming?
Here is the leftover tangzhong — I haven’t decided what to bake with it yet.

Will I bake this again?  Yes, yes, yes!  My daughter loves it in her lunchbox and it would compensate for the times I have to force my sourdough loaves on her (LOL).  It’s been over two days, and the loaf is still as fresh and soft as it was on the day it was baked.  When I sliced the loaf, I realised why it was eerily familiar.  It feels just like the dough from the Challah I made a few weeks back, only, this one is a bit lighter and less crumbly after baking.

Next week:  Bacon-Onion Rye Rolls, from one of my go-to sites, King Arthur Flour.

4 Replies to “My Baking Challenge, Autumn #8”

  1. Well I have learned something new today as I have never heard of tangzhong. How fascinating to watch the process of making it in three sections like that. I love this series and am learning heaps.

    1. I am learning a lot too, Nanna Chel! I also thought the snail shape was interesting. I usually just shape them into three separate balls before putting them into the tin. It really is quite helpful to do that partitioning when freezing the bread. I taught Mum to do that because she bakes a loaf sometimes and it is too much for her to go through before it becomes stale.

  2. In response to your first paragraph – I’m glad we’re keeping you on your toes 🙂.

    As I don’t have a breadmachine do you think I could mix with dough hook in the mixmaster and then knead by hand? That’s how I do Rhonda’s cheese rolls.

    I think your ‘snails’ look fine as they are. I saw a sign yesterday and it stuck with me ‘imperfection is beautiful.’

    Enjoy your lovely soft bread.

    1. LOL, Kylie.

      Yes I think that wouldn’t be problem. The dough is just a bit sticky in the beginning but handles really well after a rest. I didn’t really let the bread machine run on its own, I was watching it mix for a few minutes, and when I poured the melted butter the dough just came into a ball… Good luck 🙂

      I love that sign about imperfection! Thanks for the reminder.

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