October 16, 2009

Tangzhong, or the Water-Roux Method & Tangzhong Wholemeal Bread 65C湯種及湯種全麥土司

Hahaha ...! I can't believe it's already weekend! Yes, yes! I've got so many things that I'd like to do within two days ... Yet, there is so much distraction around me ... We'll just see how things will turn out for me and whether I can realize my goals this weekend.

Anyhow, I really want to share this amazing method of making bread with you! I know it's not that new anymore, but it really is a keeper! You've always been wondering questions like these about the bread and buns that you buy from bakeries outside: "The bread is so soft and fluffy! How did they do it?" "How can the bread stay so soft for so many days!!??" "Any secrets to homemade bread that can stay soft and fluffy for the rest of the week?"

Oh, well! I can't really think of that many questions on top of my head now. What I can tell you for sure though is that "secret ingredients" such as stabilizers, bread improvers, bread softeners and preservatives (e.g. xanthan gum and citric acid) are used for commercial bread and buns. Everyday at work, I have to go through and edit all the marketing and promotion materials for such ingredients. The more I read, the more shocking information I get! Man, this makes me think homemade bread and anything homemade are--HANDS DOWN--the BEST, HEALTHIEST and SAFEST!

At least, I'm glad that I can make my own bread from scratch. This ensures my family isn't consuming all those unwanted additives. But if you do happen to make your own bread, you often may end up asking, "How come my bread turns tough and dry in just 24 hours!?"

Let's say you've succeeded in making bread, this is very likely that the method you used was what we call the direct method (直接法) in Asian bread making. Bread made via this method almost always end up dry and hard the second day it was made. This is, in fact, the simplest method of all in the art and science of bread making.

Based on what I've learned over the last 2-1/2 years of baking and cooking, tangzhong, or the water-roux method (湯種法) is the best if what you're looking for is homemade bread that can retain its soft and fluffy texture as well as stay fresh for up to five days! Yes, you heard me right--no preservatives and all those "secret agents!" (Do note though other methods such as the 17-hour starter method [17小時麵包法] and starter method [中種法] work just as good--except they require more time and energy.)

The tangzhong method has been circulating in the Chinese baking community since Yvonne Chen's "Bread Doctor" from Taiwan (陳郁芬。《65C湯種麵包》。臺灣) was first published in 2003 or 2004. This was of course a rage in the Chinese blogging-baking community at first. Though the fever has faded, the method stays because it really works!!!

The secret to the success of this method lies in the tangzhong, or the water-roux starter (湯種). It was an ancient Chinese method used in the making of Chinese steamed buns (e.g. bao 包 and mantou 饅頭), dumplings (餃子), glutinous rice balls or tongyun (湯圓) and so forth. The Japanese recently revived the method, and it later became very popular in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia and other Asia regions.

In Japanese, tangzhong means either a warm or thin starchy (flour-based) starter. Bread that's made with tangzhong is called tangzhong bread. So, how does it do the magic of producing bread that stays soft and fluffy longer without the addition of any "artificial ingredients?" As you cook the flour-water mixture for the tangzhong over gentle heat, the starch begins to react with the water via gelatinization. The mixture will subsequently thicken up as the starch traps and locks moisture from the water. The cooking will have to be stopped once the mixture has reached 65C.

Thus, incorporating tangzhong into your bread will give you a soft, fluffy bread that has fine crumbs and springy texture. On top of that, it has better anti-staling effect! ("Thermometer-less?" No worries, we can still enjoy tangzhong bread with just our own judgment. =) Read more and you'll find out how ...)

I hope you get the picture now. I've been using the tangzhong method for over 1-1/2 years and am loving it to bits! Here, you'll see how tangzhong is made and a keeper recipe that I've used. Because we prefer wholemeal, oatmeal and multigrain bread, I NORMALLY won't make any plain white bread because it's really not good for you. ;P

In the meantime, I'd like to tell all of you I finally have my first square-looking bread loaf after many painstaking attempts!! HAPPY, HAPPY! Except that I actually had to "trim" it due to my poor estimation. I filled the tin with too much dough that the dough overexpanded out of the tin LOL! You learn along the way, right?

Anyhow, to get a square-looking sandwich loaf, all you need is a Pullman loaf tin that comes with a lid. They can be easily acquired at the baking supplies stores here. Bread baked in Pullman loaf tins yields a really thin crust and fine crumbs. I absolutely heart it, man! I just feel so sorry for those living in the U.S. because these tins cost a bomb over there and they're not that readily available. =(

The following is the wholemeal tangzhong recipe from the book. It was SO good! I couldn't believe the texture of the bread came out soft, fluffy and springy while having fine crumbs. And, all these qualities actually kept for five days! I only had to microwave the final slice on the sixth day. I made a little over two loaves and they kept me through till my last working day of that week.

Simple sandwiches made with the bread and served with ham, cabbage, Cheddar cheese slices, ketchup, mayo, orange marmalade and butter brought me a simple sense of happiness and achievement that were inexplicable. I felt so happy as I had my breakfasts and lunch at work! Oh, dear! Can you taste some homemade goodness now?

Tangzhong, or the Water-Roux Starter 湯種

The flour-to-water ratio for tangzhong is always 1 (bread flour) : 5 (water). Thus for instance, you can make a batch of approximately 300g tangzhong with: 

50g bread flour
250g water/milk
  1. Whisk (A) together till combined and lump-free, then heat this mixture over medium-low gentle heat in a saucepan--keep stirring continuously as you cook it
  2. Once the thermometer hits 65C--OR if you don't own a thermometer like I do, pay attention at all times. When the mixture starts to thicken up and once you can see "traces of line" with every stir that you make with a hand whisk--stop! This is tangzhong.
  3. Immediately remove from heat and transfer the tangzhong into another clean bowl; quickly cover with a piece of cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent a layer of "skin" from forming
  4. Leave it to cool completely aside before use; otherwise, it can always be refrigerated for up to two days--discard after that or even once it's turned gray (i.e. it's bad now.)
    Just bring it to room temperature right before using it. (I'm not too sure about this, but I've heard that tangzhong that's been left to age in the fridge for up to 12 hours is better. Hope I've got time to try this out.)
  5. When it's about time to be used, measure out the amount needed to carry out the following steps in bread making
65C Tangzhong Wholemeal Bread Loaf 65C湯種全麥土司 (Adapted from "Bread Doctor" 《65C湯種麵包》by Yvonne Chen 陳郁芬) 
Makes two 22cm(L) x 10.5cm(W) x 10cm(H) loaves

** I'm posting this recipe almost word-by-word from the book. The reason being that you may have success with the dough rising almost to or over the rim of the loaf tin using the original recipe. In contrast, I've never had successful attempts at making a square loaf or over-the-rim height of a loaf with original recipes. I wish the same will never happen to you! **

280g bread flour
200g wholemeal flour
10g instant dried yeast
50g sugar
7g salt

60g egg, at room temperature and slightly beaten
140g milk, at room temperature
120g tangzhong, at room temperature

50g unsalted butter, slightly softened at room temperature
  1. Combine (A) together and make a well in the center, then whisk together (B); pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix till a dough has formed and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl
  2. Turn the dough out onto a surface and knead till gluten has developed, then knead in the butter till incorporated; further knead the dough till it's elastic and has reached the windowpane stage--i.e. a thin "membrane" can be formed by slowly, gently pulling the dough out towards opposite directions. It might take longer for the stickier wholemeal bread dough to reach this stage compared to plain white bread dough. But, DON'T SKIP this step!
  3. Round the dough up and place it into a greased bowl, cover and let it proof till it's doubled in size. To know whether it's doubled in size, dip your finger in some bread or plain flour and gently, slowly poke into the dough--of course, don't puncture it! If an indentation remains at where you poked your finger in, this means proofing is sufficient; otherwise, if that spot bounces back, let it proof further till the dough is doubled in size
  4. On a lightly floured working surface, deflate and divide the dough into four equal portions, with each weighing 220g (approximately,) then round up and cover them to let rest for 15 minutes
  5. To each of the portion of the dough, flatten it up and roll out into a rough oval-olive or rectangular shape with a lightly floured rolling pin. Next, roll it up tightly from the shorter ends the Swiss roll-style; pinch ends to seal the dough tightly. It might be slightly challenging to shape wholemeal bread dough. During the entire process, lightly dust your hands with flour, if and as necessary.
    Arrange rolled-up dough in a greased Pullman loaf tin starting from the center; repeat the same with the remaining portions of the dough. Arrange the loaf tin with those rolled-up portions of the dough till filled up--leaving some room in between each for expansion later on
    ** OK, I've read that some of you are having trouble with bread that doesn't reach the rim of a 22cm(L) x 10.5cm(W) x 10cm (H) Pullman loaf tin after the second round of proofing and/or baking. The author of the recipe does indicate that wholemeal bread dough doesn't rise as much as plain white bread dough does. Plus, I actually never follow the--or, any--bread loaf recipes to the "T." When I'm aiming for a square or any super tall loaf that can actually rise almost to or over the rim of the loaf tin, I always make sure the dough placed into the loaf tin actually has:

    • 1/3 or a little over 1/3 the height of the loaf tin, for a square loaf;
    • at least 1/2 the height of the loaf tin, for a bread loaf that has "humps" (i.e. its height is taller than the height of the loaf tin.) **
  6. Cover with a piece of cling wrap and let the dough proof till it's reached 80% of the capacity of the loaf tin. (If you want a square loaf, cover the tin--leaving 4~5cm of of "hole" for you to peek in--with the lid that comes with the Pullman loaf tin before the second round of proofing--it should be right underneath the piece of cling wrap.)
  7. For those who are baking a square loaf, slide the lid to cover the tin fully. For those who don't plan on using the lid to make a square loaf, you can brush the loaf with some slightly beaten egg if you want a glossy finish to the bread.
  8. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or till the bread is golden brown and cooked through.
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately unmold the bread onto wire rack to let it cool completely. Slice to serve or store airtight once it's thoroughly cooled

    Because of the extra dough, I did something really weird with it and it ended up with a very awkward, funny shape LOL!

P.S. Here's to wish all Hinduists out there a Happy Diwali!!


Beachlover said...

your bread really look great and soft!! I saw tangzhong was circular around the blogger but I yet make the effort to bake some bread.(me lazy) haha!..thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe:)

Happy Homebaker said...

I have yet to try tangzhong although I have read the book 3 years ago! I chicken out whenever there is anything that requires the stove ;)
Thanks for sharing such an insightful post!

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks guys for dropping by!! I'm totally flattered and encouraged to hear feedback from you!

@HHB: I know ... the method's been around so long ... But, I only discovered it last summer in the U.S. ... Furthermore, I only managed to blog about it till now ... ZzZzZzZz ... =.=""

Aimei said...

Thanks for sharing such insightful knowledge on Tang Zhong method! I've never really getting down to undertand how it works! :P

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!!! I've been on a baking bread spree of late and loving every moment of it!!! I'm so happy I came across your site today.

Thank you again! You're right something in the U.S. are so expensive.

LeeYong from NJ

youfei said...

Heyyy! The pictures are SO helpful..I think I should get started on bread making now..hmmm...

practical food? =p

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks guys for your visit here and feedback!!

@youfei: Oh yea! Bread is definitely THE most practical food I can think of for lunchbox during working days for now ... Quiches, savory pies and perhaps, some other savoring, more filling stuff are practical, too!? =P

pigpigscorner said...

I've always wanted to try this bread recipe. Looks so soft and fluffy.

Pei-Lin said...

Yea! You've got to give it a try!! It's SOOO worth it! Please let me know how it turns out if you do give this recipe and bread-making method a shot!! Thanks for stopping by! =)

youfei said...

heyy! I made this bread yesterday. It wasn't as soft as I was expecting..maybe because it was wholemeal? I'm not sure if i overcooked the tangzhong though =X

I still have some leftover and i'm gonna try some coffee buns later.

Well, about the loaf, I don't know if I put too much dough into my tiny pullman tin. I divided the dough into 4 portions but used only 3 portions for the loaf. The last portion, I made them into small buns. The loaf just couldn't seem to reach the top or the tin although I let it proof like...for 1 hr 10 min? I gave up and baked it. The bread was pretty soft inside but the crust was real hard. Almost like..some european bread. yikes!

It's my VERY FIRST time on wholemeal loaf..so..am i on the right track? haha

Pei-Lin said...

Hey there!

Of course, wholemeal bread and that kind of "fibrous" bread can have a light and fluffy texture--but not as light and fluffy as the one of a plain white bread. The thing about wholemeal bread is that it's much filling and you can actually feel that there's "something" in the bread ... The bread won't just come and melt away in your mouth if you get what I mean. =)

You might have overcooked the tangzhong based on what you told me the other night. It should be sort of runny and look slightly thickened, slimy at the same time. You might have cooked a soft dough out of it!!?? That's too dry for tangzhong ...

Hahaha ...! Sorry about my typo in the recipe ... Normally, I don't quite follow the author's and I sort of eyeballed the quantity of dough I should put into a small Pullman loaf tin.

But, I'm wondering though ... Was your yeast OK?? Unless the weather wasn't nice to you and the dough that day, proofing shouldn't be a problem man ... And, tangzhong bread almost always has a thin crust with fine crumbs. REALLY, REALLY soft and fluffy ... Wah, your situation is really puzzling LOL!

No worries lah, my friend! Keep trying ... I'm sure it'll turn out the way it should be EVENTUALLY. You're going to try rotiboys!!?? Aiyo, I haven't tried making these sweet-smelling buns ... =( Want to try them sometime ... But, I'm distracted by other recipes ... How? T_T

quizzine said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
First, i must thank u for sharing the recipe here, which i tried, and secondly for dropping me a note on troubleshooting. Other contributing factors to the dough-that-doesn't-fill-the tin is also becos i put my dough in the fridge to slowly proof (in total maybe more than 12 hours), and i could have overcooked the water roux. Thks again!

Pei-Lin said...

Hey Quizzine!

Thanks for the prompt feedback! I don't think low-temperature proofing is a major cause to the "short dough" problem; unless, you didn't let it the cold dough come to room temperature before baking it!!?? Well, overcooked tangzhong could be possible, too ...

Thanks once again!!! Keep up the bakes and I'm awaiting more from you yea?

Cheers, and happy baking/cooking!!


quizzine said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
Bingo! I think i didn't bring the dough to room temp before baking too. I'm preparing another dough now, hopefully they turn out well this time ;-)

Pei-Lin said...

Hello Quizzine!!

Do let me know how this attempt turned out yea? Hope to hear from you soon!!


qinyi said...

hey pei-lin!! this sounds like an interesting recipe! i'm going to book mark it and adapt it into the cute panda bread recipe i saw at pigpigscorner some time ago. hehe :)

btw, i made some chocolate macarons the other day and it was yummy even though it didn't turn out to be too pretty! it looked more like crushed / squashed chocolate sandwich cookies and it didn't have the "feet" if u get what i mean. haven't tasted real macarons before so i'm not sure how authentic my macarons turned out! have u eaten macarons before?

Mysweetkitchen said...

I never knew about this TangZhong method/secret. Looks like it really does wonders to a homemade bread. I will try this soon. Thanks for sharing.

Craze Kent said...

Hope to try out lioa!! print for my dad read 1st.. hehe thank pei lin!!! nvr heard this method b4. this is a real secret ingredient!!!

Velva said...

This blog post was so helpful. Thank you! The photos are nice too.

Pei-Lin said...

Qin Yi,

I'd like to try making something like the panda bread loaf someday. Oh well! I've tried making macs so many times. But, only succeeded once in which 95% of my macs in that batch had "feet!" They were at least decent-looking ones ... -_-"" The rest all came out in various forms and shapes ... lopsided feet, too low or too tall of the feet and etc. You name it, you've got it! Frankly, macs are still the most challenging for my levels now. I do have to agree though they're DAMN sweet! But one or two macs per serving should be fine that we won't be overdosed with sugar! Well, when you do get to cross the English Channel and visit Paris, I highly recommend you to go try the macarons of Ladurée. Then, you'll understand why people all over the world go crazy about these little monsters! Btw, here's an old pic I took for my only successful attempt at macs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ocbcb/3201239788/in/set-72157612526791181/

Pei-Lin said...

Thanks all for the encouraging words! I really appreciate it! Do let me know via blogging or any other ways about how the method turns out for you yeah? Cheers! Happy baking!

@Kent: Eh dude ... After your dad has tried it, let me know arr ... Aviation + culinary/pastry arts ... totally unrelated!! You dad sounds very geng!! Good to know someone who bakes & cooks and with a parent who does the same, too, within our department hahahaha!! But you know hor ... my blog is nothing one lah compared to other better, greater food/cooking/baking/food photography & styling blogs out there!

pityenlacocina said...

hi, first time here, and wont be the last! loved your blog, and this recipe looks so delicious, love your technique as well, and the photos! cheers from london

Pei-Lin said...

Dear pityenlacocina,

Thanks, thanks for the encouraging words and for stopping by! You've just made my day!!

Cheers from the sunny and warm Malaysia!


The Little Teochew said...

Hi Pei-Lin

I happened to see your URL on my visitor tracker. Popped over to say hi and was pleasantly surprised to see a gem of a blog.

I am most impressed with this particular post. Such detail! Such a beautiful loaf!


Dodol & Mochi said...

Hello Ju!

Your 三杯雞 just made me drool before my bedtime ... Thanks for the encouraging words! I'll do better and share with y'all as all of us learn along the way ...

I love yours! Will keep following updates from you!

Cheers from Malaysia,

Anonymous said...

Very interesting ... as I'm planning to bake my first ever home made bread for my family :) Also, Got me thinking, how to use the water-roux method in making "tong yuin"?
Really enjoying your blog :) cheers!

Dodol & Mochi said...

Hello! Thanks for dropping by first of all!

Well, as for tong yun, it's not really tangzhong per se ... The theory behind is the same however.

Most people just add in enough room temperature water and knead into glutinous rice flour till a dough has just formed. They then just stop there. Am I right? For me, that's exactly like the Direct Method in bread making. I find though for the most part, tong yun made with this method turn stale pretty quickly.

Another method to make good tong yun that don't turn dry & stale that fast and are chewier in texture is in fact like tangzhong method. There isn't fast and fixed rule to this though. Let's say, you take 1/3 of the total amount of glutinous rice flour and mix it with some boiling-hot water to "cook" the flour. This is where the gelatinization of flour in response to water occurs!

Next, you add in sufficient quantity of glutinous rice flour to the "starter" and knead till it's formed a dough that doesn't stick.

Oh, do let me know how your first bread turns out yea? It's so exciting to bake your first bread right? I still remember mine vividly LOL! But, I'm really glad to learn that what I've been sharing with y'all is helpful and actually gets others going into venturing into the wonderful world of cooking and baking!

THANKS ONCE AGAIN! You've made my day!


KAKINTAN said...

Hi Pei Lin..very nice blog....i likeeeee..

Dodol & Mochi said...

Apa khabar, Kak Intan!!

Terima kasih kerana mengunjungi blog saya! Ahh ... Blog ini baru berumur beberapa bulan sahaja ... Terdapat banyak yang masih boleh diperbaikan ... =D


P.S. Bahasa Malaysia saya sangat buruk ... Jangan marah ye?

kakintan said...

Hi Pei-Lin how are you? Lamanya tak datang sini

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello, Kak Intan! Sorry for this late of a reply! Have been extremely busy with Lunar New Year festivities!

Thank you so much for asking! I really appreciate it! Oh, you've made my day. ;) I think I'm still good, barely good enough to survive through the day. What I do hope is to live this life to the fullest by engaging myself in productive works. Life is too short to live!

Hope life is treating you really well! Take care!

Anonymous said...

When i mix all the ingredients my dough was very dry. Why is it like that? Do i need to add water? Anyway can i use 8 X 4 X 4 pullman loaf tin?

Blessed Homemaker said...

I just saw this from HHB's blog. I didn't get a good loaf when I made my tang zhong bread, do you know what could have gone wrong? Do check out my TZ pic here, I thought it's about your texture but I'm not satisfied with the end result. Not as soft as what I was expecting.


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, Blessed Homemaker! I think your tangzhong, as shown in your pic, was a bit too thick. Mine always turns out too be runny whist being slightly thick. Besides constantly whisk the flour-water mixture at all times, make sure you keep an eye on its consistency. As soon as you start to see streaks following right behind your (metal whisk), immediately turn off the flame and remove it from the heat to stop the cooking process.

It's true that the dough made with tangzhong tends to be sticky. So, I always have my working surface, hands and rolling pin floured in order to work with the dough. However, I've found that dough that's been proofed for the first round becomes more manageable. I guess we can attribute that to sufficient resting time of the gluten.

Also, for a glutton like me, my wholemeal tangzhong bread is already good and soft enough for me, provided that I have not overbaked it. Because it's soft enough for me, I suppose plain white bread should be even softer!!?? This was what that happened to my rotiboy and polo buns, in which I broke my own record by using just plain bread + cake flour for these buns!! (Have yet to blog about them, but they can be found on my Flickr. I'm gonna do it sometime.) I bake wholemeal and oatmeal bread 98% of the time because I try to avoid refined white bread. I mean really, I don't compare my home-made bread to store-bought ones. Like what I've shared with you in my tangzhong post, store-bought ones contain additives to improve their texture and lengthen shelf life. I've gotta acknowledge that Asians tend to have a palate for super soft, fluffy bread that melts in your mouth. Since I started working for an international food distribution company that distributes additives on behalf of multinational additives manufacturers, I've seen commercial recipes for bread (be it plain or wholemeal bread), Swiss rolls, ice cream, ganache coating for ice pops, gourmet chocolate, mayo and yogurt! They all have at least two different additives! All these have made me detest store-bought stuff, at least, I try to avoid consuming though I know deep down that the "raw" ingredients we purchase from baking supply stores do contain some sort of additives! Sigh ... What to do when we're living in a highly commercialized, fast-paced world!

If you have any other questions, please let me know! I'd be glad to help you! I make bread almost every week for my lunch at work, and tangzhong almost always ends up in mine. I hope you can enjoy tangzhong bread real soon!

Triy said...

Hi, i chanced upon your blog when reading up on this tangzhong method of making bread. However, I'm a bit confused over this phrase: "When it's about time to be used, measure out the amount needed to carry out the following steps in bread making"

Can you elaborate how much tangzhong i need to make in order to make your wholemeal bread? Thanks in advance

Cheah said...

I'm intrigue by the tangzhong method of making bread. I have tried tangzhong method by kneading with the dough hook and also by adding the tangzhong into the breadmaker to make the dough and proof it, 1st round. In the first case, gluten formed quickly and end result, bread was hard. Then tried using the breadmaker, the dough was sticky, very hard to manage, need to flour my hands, work top with flour. Think I'm going to give up, ha, ha. So, for my bread I use another recipe, minus tangzhong, and used the breadmaker to knead and proof the dough for me. The dough was manageable and I could form shapes, etc. That's why after 3 trials with tangzhong I finally fall back on my own recipe. Feel like giving tangzhong 1 last try!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hey, Triy!

Firstly, thousands of apologies for getting back to you this late! Have been super busy!

Actually, I think the statement is fairly self-explanatory. With 50 g bread flour and 250 g water, you should get around 300 g tangzhong.

That said, if you intend to make the full recipe, you're gonna have to use 120 g tangzhong. Of course, you'll have to then measure out 120 g from the 300 g tangzhong. I'd think using 25 g bread flour and 125 g water to make tangzhong should be just right because it's gonna yield 130~145 g tangzhong. Surprised! You're not gonna get 150 g tangzhong because a little bit of liquid will evaporate somehow during the cooking process.

Hope these help! Please let me know if you need any other things answered so that you can make tangzhong bread! Happy baking!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello, Cheah!

Thanks for stopping by and thousands of apologies for getting back to you this late! Have been super busy!

I'm so sorry to hear about the mishaps! Well, we learn along the way, don't we? In fact, I have trials and errors (and accidents) every time I'm in the kitchen. LOL!

I know that kneading the dough with machine may lead to overkneading. But, I've yet to try that myself as I knead my bread dough manually. I've not had mine overkneaded before ... But, it can possible, too, when I happen to be daydreaming or distracted whilst kneading the dough. However, kneading dough manually will not have you overknead the dough as you may even become exhausted halfway through kneading, well before it's reached the windowpane stage. Hahaha ...! But, I'm pretty surprised at the speed of your bread dough getting kneaded until the windowpane stage! If only mine were that fast ... LOL! (Oooh, my lazy bone!)

Tangzhong dough has been known to be notoriously sticky. So, you know what? I usually knead my bread dough for 40 to 60 minutes. Nope, it ain't insane. I just have to manage my precious weekend time wisely. LOL! But like what I've shared with others, when the dough is so, so sticky that it just seems like a puddle of mud that you've been struggled with forever, add a bit of flour to it! If it's a tad too dry (i.e. crumbly), add in a bit of water. And like what you've been doing, flour your hands, rolling pin, working surface, etc. when the dough super sticky! This is what I do each time I make bread. ;) In fact, I make my bread with tangzhong almost every week. I love this method: simple and effective! Don't think I'm gonna change anytime soon.

Please give tangzhong a chance again! It's really good ... at least, it's worked for me since I started making bread with this method. I hope you can have your own tangzhong bread real soon, too!

Cheers, and happy baking!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,
Love your recipes. Is Yvonne Chen's Cookbook written in Chinese and English? My 3 year old loves S'pore bread and buns. We live in USA. Can you recommend S'pore/Malaysian bread/buns cookbooks? Thanks so much.

cusinera said...

gosh! i just read this method today while searching for other new food blogs to read, love your blog~you explain this tangzhong so clear...will try this method soon! Wonderful pics!!!

Anonymous said...

Can the water roux be added to all bread recipes? How do you know how much to add? Thanks so much for advice ...

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Dear all, I'm extremely sorry for getting back to you this late! Been busy with life and been pretty distracted as a result! Boo ...

@Anonymous: Oops, I think I've left your questions out by accident! Sorry! I hope you'll get my message here eventually. Anyway, if the mixture seems dry, just add in a little bit of water/milk at a time whilst mixing everything up. Stop adding liquid as soon as the dough can pull together, i.e. it stays intact and isn't crumbly and dry. However, don't overdo this as you may end up with overly sticky dough.

Happy baking! I firmly believe you're gonna enjoy tangzhong bread like everyone else! Have a great Easter weekend!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

@Anonymous: *Sigh* Have forgotten about your other question. Bummer!

Sure, an 8x4x4" Pullman loaf tin will work ... Size of the mold/tin used isn't really a problem. What matters is you're gonna have to adjust the baking time, estimate the quantity of dough for a particular tin/mold size. All these oftentimes are derived from experience that you've accumulated over time. Trust me, "practice makes perfect" is truly applicable here. Happy baking! Let me know if you need any other questions answered! I'll help as long as it's within my capability! ;)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Dear all, I'm extremely sorry for getting back to you this late! Been busy with life and been pretty distracted as a result! Boo ...

@Anonymous: Firstly, thank you so much for the encouraging words! You've made my day!! Yvonne Chen's "Bread Doctor" is available only in Chinese now, it's published in Taiwan. Hmm ... Actually, most of my bread-related cookbooks are Taiwanese and Japanese (and these are translated into Chinese though.) Sometimes, I'd refer to some English ones from the West, too. I hardly use Malaysian and Singaporean bread books. Well, I still have bread-related cookbooks from Malaysia and Singapore though. However, if you do really want some recommendations on bread books from these two countries, I'd be more than happy to email you the details. Hope to hear from you soon!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Dear all, I'm extremely sorry for getting back to you this late! Been busy with life and been pretty distracted as a result! Boo ...

@cusinera: Hey, there! Thank you!! Thank you! You've made my weekend!! It feels so good to have been able to help others who share common interests! Oh, please lemme know how tangzhong turns out for you! Also, lemme know if you need any other questions answered! ;) I'll help you as long as they're within my capability to answer!

@Anonymous: Thanks for dropping by! Oh, yes! Tangzhong can be incorporated into most bread recipes! Just replace part of the liquids called for in the recipe that you intend to use. For instance: (Recipe from http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/2009/07/super-soft-bread-loaf-with-walnuts.html)

850g bread flour
108g sugar
12g salt
13g milk powder

196g heavy cream
184g egg whites

9g active dry yeast
196g warm water, at 43C/110F 85g

unsalted butter, at room temperature

some coarsely chopped roasted walnuts
some white sesame seeds, for coating

1 egg, slightly beaten and set aside for egg wash

~ I'd replace either the heavy cream or egg whites with tangzhong.

~ Don't overdo the aforementioned however as you may end up getting overly sticky, gooey puddle of mass. If it turns out to be sticky, mix in more bread flour; if too dry, add in more liquids.

~ Remember, the stickier your dough is, the softer and more tender your bread will be.

~ The suggestions above are based purely on my experience/trials and errors obtained over time.

Hope the above helps! Do lemme know if you need any other questions answered! Will try my best to assist you! ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei Lin,
I can't wait to hear back you regarding SE Asian bread/buns cookbooks! Is Alex Goh's Bread Magic any good? Thanks again.
Here's my email addr.

babe_kl said...

gee now i know why some bread are so fluffy. this is so enlightening, thanks for sharing ;-)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry for the late reply! Been super busy, as always, as a full-time office lady. Argh!

@Madi Mom: Hello! Will get back to you via email the soonest possible before May hits. Promised! Thanks for visiting! ;)

@babe_kl: Oh, well ... Soft and fluffy in the sense for home-made bread ... This method is for us home bakers. Those commercial bread sold at bakeries contain additives, they cheat! Heh ... Thanks for dropping by! Have great weekend!

bigheadmagicmad said...

Hi, i learned a lot from you. Your blog is wonderful, and i love reading it.:)

Ann J. said...

Hi Pei Lin,

I'd like to know where you got the Pullman bread tin. I've recently started experimenting with bread and have been baking my own loaves at home.

You can mail me at ann.jebaratnam@my.tesco.com


Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, you can add Tang Zhong to your bread recipe by 20%-25% of the total bread ingredient weight.

If your total ingredient weighs 1000g. You can add 200g to 250g of Tang Zhong to your recipe and not need to taken ingredients away from your recipe. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I bake the buns last night and it is still very soft. I'm very happy and this is the very first time my attempt is successful.

BTW why is the yeast smell & taste very strong?

I use one packet of instant yeast which is about 11gm...........too lazy to take away the 1gm.

But overall, I'm very happy with the result. Finally, my buns are soft.


Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hi, Anonymous! Thanks for visiting and the feedback!

Congrats on the success of your maiden attempt! I'm happy for you, too! Isn't home-made bread the best? =)

Hmmm ... I'm not sure about the overly strong yeasty smell and taste ... That hasn't happened to me before. Can you provide me with more details on that as it's kinda hard for me to grasp the picture? Based on my experience, one gram shouldn't affect much. To be honest, the lazy bone in me oftentimes ignores accuracy. If the recipe calls for 10 g, I sometimes put in 8, 9, or 11 g yeast. You used instant yeast?

So, don't worry ... You're not alone in this ... I'm a rebel sometimes, too. HAHA!

If you find tangzhong method works, stick to it. In the meantime, no harm experimenting with other methods, too. That's the fun part of about baking and cooking at home. AND, home-made breads/buns can be soft too! Who says we need improvers and other additives! =D


Anonymous said...

yea I used instant yeast. Er, the buns are definitely soft but my mum complained the yeast smell is too strong for her liking. A friend even suggested that I overproof it. My 1st proof was 60 min after kneading it to proof until the dough double it. Then i shaped the buns and let it proof again to double the size b4 putting them in the oven.

Lynx said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
Recently I got into bread making. I was searching online about tangzhong method and found your blog. I really like your clear explanation. And you have a very clean blog. Thanks and I will be sure to follow often.
Btw, yes the pullman loaf tin is very expensive in the US :(

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Hello, Lynx!

Sorry for the slightly late reply! Been busy ... Well, with Chinese New Year coming too ... Things just get crazier!

Thank you so much for the feedback and highly encouraging words! I feel so, so thankful for that! Your words have given me that much-needed force to keep this blog going! Thank you!!!

Thank you for following me, too! =)

A note on pullman loaf pan, though, is that albeit expensive, those in the U.S. are actually of good quality and that quality is something that's guaranteed. Over here, they can be much more affordable. BUT, the quality just isn't that good, including mine. Nonetheless, it's served its purpose well, at least for me. And I'm satisfied with the results it's given so far.

Have a fabulous weekend and a gorgeous week ahead!

With regards,

Nicole said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
I've tried making Tang Zhong several times (with and without a thermometer, but I don't think my thermometer is accurate)and I still don't think I've cooked it properly. If I have cooked it to the point where I can see the bottom of the pan for every stir I make, is that overcooked? It sort of reached the 'ribbon' stage in that the impression would remain for quite a while if I dribbled some of the mixture back into the bowl.

Pei-Lin said...

Dear Nicole,


I've never tried preparing tangzhong using a thermometer. See, the size of the saucepan used to cook tangzhong should be taken into account, too. If the starter is cooked to a point where the bottom of the saucepan becomes visible, it's overcooked. Tangzhong should be on the runny side. It shouldn't be like the ribbon stage of cake making, where you can to the "8" test. It's runny but there are trails following behind with every whisk/stir.

Hope these help! Let me know if you have more questions and concerns. Thank you for popping by! Thank you for the feedback. Have a lovely day ahead!


cherry potato said...

I have tried this recipe, its comes out very soft. Thanks for sharing.

Pei-Lin said...

Hi, cherry potato! Thank you so much for dropping by and for the feedback. Glad you liked it. =)

Anonymous said...

Hello Pei Lin,
Greetings from London. I'm Malaysian now settled in the UK. I miss our Asian soft buns & breads, so I'd like to make them myself. You have a lovely blog - I have been a silent follower for a while. I would like to attempt the tangzhong method using the breadmaker as I am unable to knead manually. Can you please advise me when I should I add the butter and tangzhong to the mixture in the machine?

Thanks for so generously sharing all your recipes and experiences.


Pei-Lin said...

Hello, Pat! Please give me some time. I'll get back to you in detail by early next week. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! You've lifted me up! Have a lovely weekend. =D

Pei-Lin said...

Hey, Pat!

I can perfectly understand what you're going through. I missed Asian-style soft bread and buns while I was in Minnesota, too.

Using bread machine to do the kneading for you basically resembles manual kneading, except that it's done via a machine, and so you won't be able to feel the transformation of the dough from being sticky and rough to smooth and supple. Now, for the tangzhong, just treat it like one of those wet ingredients; add it to the dry ingredients, alongside those wet ingredients, and mix. As for the butter, just like how you would with manual kneading, let the machine knead in the butter once the gluten inside the flour has formed and the dough feels much less sticky.

May I know why you can't knead manually? I understand this can be quite tiresome for some, so don't worry if that's the case. =)

Hope these help. Thank you so much, once again! Have a gorgeous week aheaad! Take care!

With regards,

Pat said...

Hi Pei Lin,
Thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to give me your reply so quickly. I shall try it out and let you know how I get on.
I had a fall in Nov. 2008 and broke my right forearm. It was a compound fracture. I have since recovered but the right hand is not the same as before - not very strong and still get the occasional twinges of pain.
I have a keen interest in cooking & baking. In particular, I enjoy making our Nonya kuihs & our Malaysian dishes. I am keen to keep this tradition alive, so I am always happy to share with those who are interested to learn from me.
Once again, many thanks and keep blogging. Who knows, one day I may start my own blog but I doubt I will be able to do it as well as you. Have a great week yourself.

Regards n best wishes,


Pei-Lin said...

Hey, Pat.

I'm sorry to hear about that. I guess baking and cooking do cheer us up. Yes, sharing is a commendable act that should be promoted not just among baking and cooking enthusiasts but for everything in life.

Awww ... Please don't say that lowly of yourself! Everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. And do take care!

With warmest regards,

Lala said...

Thanks for giving such a detailed explanation about the tang zhong method.. ur pictures really helps, and I'm going to give this recipe a try tonight :) *keeping fingers crossed it will turn out ok*

Pei-Lin said...

Hi, Lala!

You're most welcome! I hope things do turn out great for you at your attempt at making tangzhong bread.

Thank you so much for dropping by! May you have a good weekend! Enjoy the bread, the fruit of your labor!

With warmest regards,

Anonymous said...


Chanced upon your blog while researching on baking a wholemeal bread! Haven't had much success with it...

Till I learn about Tangzhong from your blog!... wow, am game to try, but can you share...

where did you get that book from? Does Popular bookstore has it? And can you use the Starter dough in a BM?... it should be considered as a wet ingredient right?

I have a covered loaf tin, so, then how do i know if the dough has proofed if we cover it completely? it still puzzles me...

Tx in advance!

Pei-Lin said...


May I know where your location is? My copy of the book was purchased in Singapore, but you can also find it in Malaysia. I'm not sure about Popular, but you can definitely go and try finding it there. I know Kinokuniya carries it.

Yes, tangzhong can definitely be used in a bread machine, because it's essentially a wet ingredient--just like egg, water, milk, and whichever other liquids you plan on incorporating into the bread.

I believe most Pullman loaf pans out there have a detachable lid that slides over the top of the pan to cover the pan. And that's the one I have. What I do when I'm baking a Pullman square loaf is to cover the top of the loaf pan with cling wrap, and when the dough has risen to fill about 70 to 80 percent of the pan, I'll slide the lid over to cover and send it to bake.

I hope these help! Thank you for dropping by. Have a good one! =)

Anonymous said...

hi... I finally got my hands on a copy of the book by Yvonne Chen!!! 65deg Bread Doc from Popular...

Good grief!!!!... it's fully Chinese, in traditional text somemore!!!!

But the pictures in there are amazing! At least it gives a good idea on how to shape the dough. If only there's a bilingual version. Coupled with your Blog, it has definitely make the read more palatable!

So many names in there that I cannot read! Will you be kind enough to help?

What is:
1. Dong4 Wu4 Xin4 Xian1 Nai3 Yu2
2. Bai2 Yu2
3. Gao1 Jing1 Fen3 (this would be bread Flour I assume?)
4. Di1 Jing1 Fen3 (Plain flour?)
5. Wu2 Yan2 Fa1 Xiao4 Nai3 Yu2

pant... ...

Tx a Zillion (in advanced) if you are able to help !


Pei-Lin said...

Hey, JT.

I hope you're still with me, despite the fact that I only managed to reply to your question this late! I apologize, really. Sorry.

Good! Glad to hear that you now own a copy of the amazing bread book. Now, I hope the following will be of a help:

動物性鮮奶油 (dong4 wu4 xing4 xian1 nai3 you2) = Dairy (NOT non-dairy) heavy cream
白油 (bai3 you2) = Shortening
高筋麵粉 (gao1 jin1 mian4 fen3) = Bread flour
低筋麵粉 (di1 jin1 mian4 fen3) = Cake/Pastry flour
無鹽發酵奶油 (wu2 yan2 fa1 jiao4 nai3 you2) = Unsalted butter

Anything else, just ask me! I hope I can get back to you ASAP. I've been bogged down by work, and now am trying to recuperate from that.

By the way, I hope your tangzhong bread adventure has been a fruitful one. Do let me know how things turn out!

With regards,

Qi Ting @ A Dessert Diet said...

Hi! By wholemeal flour, do you mean the kind of flour that is essentially flakes not powdery with flakes scattered throughout?
- Qi Ting

Pei-Lin said...

Hi, Qi Ting!

Sorry about the late reply. Been very busy with work.

If I get your question right, my answer to it would be the latter: "powdery, with flakes scattered throughout."

Hope this helps! =)

-- Pei-Lin

Meena said...

I wanted to make bread for long , i didnt know anything abt baking,once tried making it was too hard,not happy so dropped it ,i stumbled upon u r blog ,used this receipe to make savoury buns, it was so amazing ,i am baking weekly now,this recipe is a keeper ,u r explanation are nice.


Pei-Lin said...

Hello, Meena.

Thanks for sharing, the feedback and encouragement. Your words really mean a lot to me. I feel very happy to have been able to share with you and others who are passionate about baking and cooking.

Your words are making me feel determined to keep blogging no matter how busy (and sometimes unpleasant) life can get.

-- Pei-Lin

KathyT said...

Hi Pei Lin. Thanks to you, I ve made wholemeal bread for my family for the last 2 weeks. Every loaf turned out yummy!! Ive reduced the sugar to 1 tbsp and it still turned out ok. Can i make a sugar free loaf for diabetics by omitting sugar from the recipe? For today's loaf i'veI added blended grains to my loaf and I hope it will turn out great as well!

Pei-Lin said...

Hi, Kathy.

Sorry about the late reply. I've been busy.

You're welcome. Glad to know you and your folks have been having wholesome homemade whole-wheat bread.

I bet you can omit the sugar from the recipe totally. But you'll need to adjust the recipe again; otherwise, it'd taste bland. After all, traditional (European) bread rarely has sugar added in. When making bread, as long as you have flour, yeast, salt, and water checked, everything is good to go.

Oh, please let me know how your grain loaf turned out. Okay?

Thanks for the encouraging words! They mean a lot to me.

-- Pei-Lin

Mark Bintuu said...

This bread is looking delicious. Thanks for sharing the method to make this bread.

BioTech Patent Attorney

Pei-Lin said...


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