Roux the Day with Tangzhong Bread (BBB October 2015)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Tangzhong WholeWheat(ish) Bread; a Bread Baking Babes project; information about World Food Day 2015 (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2015

My reading skills appear to be as brilliant as ever…. :lalala:

tangzhong bread wp-image-2328 Karen K (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) decreed that this month, we would try making bread with the Tangzhong method.

The what?!??

…the internet to the rescue:

Tangzhong bread making was developed by the Chinese for a softer and fluffy bread. TangZhong method was originated from Japan. The most amazing part is, the bread made with this method stays soft and fluffy even after a few days. Simply reheat the slice of bread/bun in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, you’ll have a warm, soft and fluffy bun on hand, just like it’s fresh out of the oven.
– Shoon Yin, “Bread Making Technique: Tangzhong Dough (Water Roux)”, Shoon Yin’s Recipes
A few years ago, an amazing method of making this kind of soft and fluffy bread was introduced by Yvonne Chen 陳郁芬 who wrote a Chinese book, entitled “65°C湯種麵包” (Bread Doctor). In her book, tangzhong “湯種” is described as the “secret ingredient” which is originated from Japan, to make soft and bouncy bread. It’s actually a kind of “flour paste” (aka water roux starter), cooked 1 part of bread flour in 5 parts of water to 65°C. So it’s very natural and handy to make. The Chinese community has been fascinated and crazy about this bread making method ever since.
Why does tangzhong 湯種 (flour paste) work so amazingly that can produce fluffy bread and stay soft for many days? At 65°C, the gluten in the flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and become leavened. When tangzhonog is added into other ingredients of the bread, the bread dough will be heightened and produces softer bread.
-Christine Ho, Japanese Style Bacon and Cheese Bread (Tangzhong Method 湯種法) | Christine’s Recipes
So what is the tangzhong method?
Anyone who’s ever made a pudding cake has, for all intents and purposes, employed the tangzhong method. It’s the same basic idea: you add a pre-prepared starch gel to your batter/dough and what you get in return is a finished product that’s higher and lighter than it would otherwise be, that retains more moisture and that has a very tight and even crumb. The big difference of course that in a tangzhong (essentially “soup starter” in Chinese) there’s no sugar or flavorings in the mix — just flour and water combined at a ratio of 1-5 and cooked to roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit. […]
[Y]ou get a higher loaf in the bargain. And because all the water in the gel undermines gluten development the individual bubbles never get very big, which means a very fine crumb. Also, the loaf is very tender and again because of all the moisture there is almost no crust.
A very, very neat trick, all from a little hot water and flour. Cool.
– Joe Pastry, “So what is the tangzhong method?”, Baking Techniques, History, & Science

I thought this technique sounded like a great idea! And everyone else raved about the results. But, of course, I have to be different. Don’t I? :lalala:

BBB Tangzhong Bread diary:

27 August 2015, 15:54 Wow! I keep imagining that there won’t be anything particularly new after so many years of kneading. But dough that includes already cooked flour and water is completely new to me. Very cool. Thanks for a great choice, Karen!

11 August 2015, 13:31 I was so sure I was going to be really gungho about making this. Why oh why do I keep putting it off?

Actually, I know why. It seems hard. Of course, I’ve only skimmed the recipe. The others say that it’s not at all difficult. Perhaps I should be radical and actually read through the ingredients at least.

13:47 Having read through the ingredients, I just realized that one of the reasons I was putting this off was because of the butter, eggs and sugar. But look! Ilva is brilliant:

I have found this recipe where you can swap the milk with water and there are no eggs and olive oil instead of butter
-Ilva, email to BBBabes, 11 October 2015

Yay! That’s the recipe for me! I love the idea of a soft fluffy sandwich bread that doesn’t include butter and eggs. I might just leave the sugar out too. Good sleuthing, Ilva!

When I came across the tangzhong method on other blogs I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about and decided to give it a try. The sandwich bread made with this method is tender, soft and stays fresh even after a few days. […] Instead of all-purpose flour you can use bread flour. You can replace the milk with water.
-Elena, Sandwich Bread with Tangzhong, As Easy As Apple Pie

12 October 2015, 17:32 Hold onto your hats, I actually read all the way through the Tangzhong recipe… I think.

I am not all keen to have any of the Tangzhong floating around in the fridge. So. If I want to have 135g Tangzhong, am I correct that I need 112.5 gm water and 22.5 gm flour for the starter? (If that is correct, rest assured that I’ll be a renegade ;-) and use 113gm water and 23 gm flour….)

ie: for the above recipe, the resulting Tangzhong will be 300gm (50gm flour; 25gm water) Won’t it??

12 October 2015, 17:32 Tanna reported that in her Tangzhong, she used 50 grams bread flour and 1 cup (240 grams) water and ended up with 230 grams.

Oh dear! That doesn’t make sense to me at all: 240 + 50 = 290

Oh… but wait. The water boils, doesn’t it? Some of it evaporates….

Okay, I think I understand. Using Tanna’s result, I believe that after cooking the Tangzhong, about 60 gm – about 20% – will disappear as vapor. But that’s “about 20%”, isn’t it?

Sigh. I guess what I’m going to have to do is make the Tangzhong and then weigh it to figure out how much flour, etc to use in the final dough.

See??? I knew this was going to be hard. (hahahaha Look at me making it needlessly difficult!)

I’m going down to the kitchen now to make the Tangzhong. I’m going to use the egg-free recipe that Ilva found and if there is more Tangzhong than 135gm, I’ll get my calculator out. (Ha. I love using my calculator!)

19:04 Wow, how interesting! It took hardly any time to make the Tangzhong – maybe 5 minutes from beginning to end – and that includes getting out the ingredients and scale. It looks like custard!

How exciting to actually use the candy thermometer that we bought eons ago. I knew there was a reason we bought it!

I decided not to bother putting the Tangzhong into the fridge – it’s bound to be cool enough overnight in our kitchen tonight (I’m guessing it will be around 15C).

13 October 2015, 08:41 This is fascinating! I still can’t believe how easy it was (ha, Ilva did say it was easy, didn’t she?) to make the Tangzhong last night. As per the no sugar recipe that Ilva found, I used 175gm water and 35gm all-purpose flour.


This morning, the Tangzhong looked almost exactly the same as it did last night and didn’t seem to suffer at all for being unrefrigerated. And it was ridiculously easy to remove from its bowl. I weighed it and it was 185gm. (interesting! I only lost 12% in vapor….)

Using Bakers’ Percentages, I worked out how much of the other ingredients to use so I could use all of the Tangzhong. Because I love using the calculator, I worked out the percentages for both recipes – even though it’s quite unlikely that I’ll make the one with the eggs and sugar.

flour     |  100%
milk      |   31%
eggs      |   13%
Tangzhong |   29%
sugar     |   11%
yeast     |  1.7%
butter    |   11%
salt      |  1.4%

-BBB Tangzhong bread recipe
flour     |  100%
milk      |   40%
tangzhong |   30%
sugar     |  5.5%
yeast     |  0.7%
olive oil |    9%
salt      |  1.8%

-As Easy As Pie Tangzhong bread recipe

Hmmm… the percentages are a little different, aren’t they? But I’m guessing that if the Tangzhong percentage in the egg-free version is essentially the same, then everything will be fine.

Won’t it?? :lalala:

Of course, I didn’t use only all-purpose flour that Elena (As Easy As Apple Pie) called for. Why would I do that? :-) I used a mixture of all-purpose, whole wheat flour, and ground flaxseed. And I left out the sugar entirely.

Shriek. As I was typing, I just realized that I forgot to put in the olive oil! I think I’ll go knead it in now. The dough seemed a bit stiff….

14:10 The dough has risen beautifully, in spite of the generous coating of olive oil. I’m afraid I was unable to fully encorporate all of the oil… but I guess it’s one way to make me change so that I do oil the rising bowl….

I’m not quite ready to shape it so I deflated it by folding it a few more times (maybe some more of the oil actually went into the dough).

16:01 shaped – easy to shape too!! It feels so strange to put the bread into oiled containers. It has been eons since I’ve done that! And how thrilling to use the hats again.

But. Have I planned ahead properly? …of course not! I have to leave the house at 18:00. Which means that it’s likely that T will be baking the bread. I hope everything goes swimmingly!

I’ve foolishly promised great things for this bread – that it’s going to be huge and fluffy….

This recipe is based on the book 65 degrees C by Yvonne Chen, and adapted by Christine Ho. She has great photos of the shaping technique. Christine baked this bread in a Pullman pan with the lid, but when I tried that, the lid popped off. If you use a Pullman, use the smaller one, and leave the lid off.
-Karen K, notes about BBB Tangzhong bread recipe

17:51 Yay! At least I could put the bread in the oven before leaving! It rose beautifully and looks quite promising.

The resident nay-sayer thinks that I put it in the oven too soon. But I’m thinking that if it has doubled and I’m seeing a few little bubbles on the top, it’s ready to go in. :stomp: :stomp:

23:05 I just got home. Wahhhh!! It’s so flat! I wonder what it looks like inside….

Tangzhong Bread wp-image-2327

Sigh. It tastes pretty much like sandwich bread. Slightly dense sandwich bread.

It’s not terrible though. But it’s certainly not the thrilling incredibly soft and fluffy bread that I had hoped for!

T is convinced that I didn’t let it rise enough after shaping it. I think I shouldn’t have added the olive oil. Or perhaps not so much olive oil.

Still, I love the Tangzhong method. And I’m determined to try it again. But maybe with a different recipe, and maybe I should put more dough into those pans. They are on the large side….

Thank you for making me step outside of my comfort zone, Karen!

Here is the BBB October 2015 Tangzhong Whole Wheat bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Tangzhong Bread
based on recipes by Yvonne Chen, adapted by Christine Ho; and Elena’s (Easy as Apple Pie) Sandwich Bread with Tangzhong

makes 2 loaves


  • 35g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 175g water


  • 617gm flour ¹
       » 400gm unbleached all purpose flour
       » 200gm 100% whole wheat “no additives” flour
       » 17gm flax seed, finely ground
  • 30gm skim milk powder
  • 11gm Kosher salt
  • 247gm water at 95F ²
  • 4gm active dry yeast
  • all the Tangzhong from above (185gm)
  • 40gm olive oil ³
  1. Making the Tangzhong: The evening before the day you will be making the bread, whisk flour and water in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk, whisk, whisk until the mixture looks like thick custard and is 150F (65C). If you don’t have a thermometer, Elena says to mix it until it “has the consistency of a thick paste.” Christine Ho says this:
    1. Mix flour in water well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
    2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon. It’s done. You get the tangzhong. (Some people might like to use a thermometer to check the temperature. After a few trials, I found this simple method works every time.)
    -Christine Ho, Japanese Style Bacon and Cheese Bread (Tangzhong method), Christine’s Recipes
  2. Immediately remove the Tangzhong from the heat and transfer it to a small pyrex bowl. Cover it with a plate and even though the recipes say to put it in the fridge overnight, throw caution to the winds and just leave it on the counter.
  3. Mixing the dough: On the morning of the day you will be making the bread, put flours and ground flaxseed into a large bowl. Whisk in milk powder and salt. Set aside briefly.
  4. Pour warm water into a smallish bowl. Please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F. Whisk in the yeast until it has dissolved.
  5. Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour is almost incorporated. Plop the Tangzhong overtop, and using your hands squoosh it into the mixture.
  6. Kneading: Using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to knead, reach down the side of the bowl and pull the dough from the bottom to the top. Turn the bowl as you pull and continue until the dough is quite smooth (about 10 minutes). If you notice that the dough seems quite firm, add a little more water. Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. As you are putting the bowl into the oven, suddenly remember that you were supposed to add oil. Pour it into the bowl and as best you can muddle and squeeze it into the dough. Cover the mixing bowl again and put it back in the oven with only the light turned on.
  8. If it doubles before you are ready to shape it, gently deflate it by folding the dough into itself four or five times. Notice that the oil has almost all been absorbed.
  9. Shaping: Coat the bottoms and sides of two bread tins and set aside. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Cut it evenly into 6 pieces.
  10. Flatten each piece into a rectangle. Fold it in thirds like a letter and roll it up like a scroll, starting from the narrow end (ie: to make a shortish roll). Place each scroll seam side down in the bread tins, 3 scrolls per tin (unless your bread tins are particularly large – if that is the case, put in 4 or 5 scrolls per tin).
    • For clarification, please read the following:
      With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 10 inch long oval. Fold the oval into thirds, widthwise, like an envelope. Turn the envelope so that the short side is facing you, and roll it into a 10 to 12 inch length. Roll that piece like a cinnamon roll, with the folded sides on the inside, and place the piece in an oiled bread pan, seam side down. Repeat with the other pieces, placing them next to each other.
      -BBB Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread recipe

    Cover the tins with plastic hats (or a clean tea-towel, followed by a large plastic grocery bag) and put into the oven with only the light turned on to double in size.

  11. baking: Make sure the rack is on the middle shelf. Preheat the oven to 375F. Although this isn’t essential, just before putting the rolls into the oven, spray the tops liberally with water. Put the bread in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350F and bake for about 30 minutes. Halfway through the cooking, turn the tins around to account for uneven oven temperature. When the bread is done, tip it out of the tin and onto a footed wire rack to cool. Allow the baked bread to cool completely before serving. It’s still baking inside! (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.) 4


1.) Flour The BBB recipe calls for “strong bread flour and whole wheat flour”. The eggless recipe that Ilva found calls for all-purpose flour. I used a mixture and at the last minute, decided to add ground flaxseed.

2.) Water The BBB recipe actually calls for milk. We always have powdered skim milk on hand, so I used that. But it’s probably fine to omit the milk entirely. The dough was quite dry when I was kneading; I ended up adding 25gm more.

3.) Olive oil The BBB recipe calls for butter. The recipe that Ilva found calls for baker’s percentage of 10% olive oil. Because I forgot to put it in, I didn’t weigh it but put in 3 Tbsp (approximately 40gm) which works out to just 9%. I’m thinking the olive oil could safely be omitted.

4.) But I LIKE warm bread just out of the oven!! N.B. Of course you will want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely. (It is still baking when first out of the oven!) To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

Tangzhong Bread wp-image-2329

Bread Baking Babes

Karen K is our host for October 2015’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

Have you ever seen the bread in Asian markets? It is the fluffiest bread I’ve ever seen, and it is so tall. The crumb is amazingly soft, and the bread stays fresh for a long time. The white version of this bread is wonderful, so I wanted to try this whole wheat version. […]
It’s sometimes called Japanese milk bread, or Hokkaido milk toast (when toasted, buttered, and topped with condensed milk).
The bread uses a Tangzhong, a concoction of cooked flour and water that is cooked to 65 degrees C or 149 degrees F. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and your spoon forms lines in the pan. It will have a pudding like consistency. It happens fast!!
-Karen K

Even though my Tangzhong bread wasn’t quite as successful as hoped, the others made fabulous bread. And we know you’ll want to try making Tangzhong Bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 October 2015. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may easily be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)


Today is also World Food Day. Of course, every day is World Food Day, but sometimes we need to be reminded.

World Food Day 2015
breaking the cycle of rural poverty

WFD2015: breaking the cycle of rural poverty wp-image-2331

About 795 million people are undernourished globally, down 167 million over the last decade, and 216 million less than in 1990–92. The decline is more pronounced in developing regions, despite significant population growth. In recent years, progress has been hindered by slower and less inclusive economic growth as well as political instability in some developing regions, such as Central Africa and western Asia. […]
Key Facts:

  • About 73 percent of the world population have no access to social protection measures, most of which in rural areas.
  • Less than 2% of the global GDP would be necessary to provide a basic set of social security benefits to all of the world’s poor (ILO, 2006).
  • Women have less access to social protection than men because they generally work in the informal sector., The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015

For more information, please see:


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  • Karen

    I hope you try again! You may have actually let it rise too much, what with the bubbles on top. Thanks for baking along!

  • Lien

    this is a bread that can use a bake or two more (as I did, first time the sides collapsed on me) So do not despair. Your mathemetics always make me dizzy, I just try not to have read them to keep sane :)

  • Tanna

    Looking at your loaf photo and trying to figure how big your pan is … I just no good at size guesses.
    I’m thinking like Karen, if you had bubbles on top it had risen too long.
    Why don’t you want to bake with eggs and milk? This is called Milk bread by some. Milk does seem to tenderize dough. I’ve gone from eggs no more than once a week to who’s counting and butter is all I keep in the fridge.

  • I will, Karen. I will! (There was actually only one small bubble but maybe it had overrisen – it’s definitely one of our main faults.)

  • The sides collapsed?! And you baked it again, Lien? That’s the kind of thing that makes me dizzy. :-)

  • It’s not the milk, Tanna. It’s the eggs and sugar. I don’t know why but it just seems so wrong to put sugar in sandwich bread.

    And I did put in milk at least. And there was plenty of butter on the outside of the bread once it was sliced. (Who wants to be without butter?! We have butter, as well as eggs and milk in our fridge all the time.)

    I know what you mean about guessing on sizes. The pans are really pretty large. One of them isn’t meant to be a bread pan at all – it’s quite wide with sloped edges. They’re both about 12 inches (~30cm) long. I’m thinking more and more that I should have put more rolls of dough into just one of the pans. Because the crumb seems correct (even if it isn’t particularly fluffy).

  • Bread Experience

    Elizabeth, my first loaf was flat and dense. I think I let it rise too much. The second loaf turned out much better. Do try again! It’s a wonderful bread!

  • Katie

    As I said….. creative babes baking bread. This looks like a very intriguing bread. We don’t often see ‘fluffy’ bread here in France lol