Kirbie's Cravings

Soft and Fluffy Milk Toast (with a secret ingredient to keep it soft)

I’ve always had a preference for asian style bread.  The breads usually have an incredibly soft texture and stay soft and fresh for days. I’ve looked up recipes a couple of times and it seemed that a lot of the recipes required a “bread improver” to keep the bread soft.  I don’t believe this ingredient is available here in the U.S., but apparently is more common in Asia.

Then I read about the “Tangzhong method.” It’s been popular for a few years now, but since I don’t read chinese, I didn’t learn about it until recently. One of the blogs I follow is Christine’s Recipes. I really enjoy her blog because she makes a lot of chinese recipes and her blog is in English and in Chinese, which has allowed me to try recipes of a lot of my favorite chinese desserts.

I first read about the Tangzhong method on her blog.  Basically, a few years ago, a woman named Yvonne Chen wrote a book entitled 65 degrees, which details her secret ingredient to keeping bread fresh and soft.  She uses a flour and water mixture, cooked to 65 degrees, to make a flour paste called “tang zhong” which is added to the bread. What I loved about this idea is that it is natural and doesn’t use chemicals.

As soon as I saw the beautiful, soft and fluffy breads that Christine had made, I knew I had to try making my own. I read up on the tangzhong method on a few other blogs and also a few different recipes. You can use this method to make a variety of breads that are sweet and savory. You can also use it to make soft milk bread rolls.

I decided to try making a simple milk toast, which is one of my favorite breads to get from chinese bakeries. It’s sweet and has no filling, so you can just enjoy the plain, soft bread.

You need to make the flour paste ahead of time and give it a few hours to cool, but it’s not too hard. I made mine in the morning, put it in the fridge and then used it that evening.

The bread portion was a little harder to make. It took several hours of proofing my bread and kneading it before it was ready. But it was totally worth it. When my bread came out, the crust was shiny and it looked and smelled like I was in a chinese bakery. After I let the bread cool, I peeled off a section of the bread and the texture was so fluffy. Even the next day, the bread remained as soft and fresh tasting as the day before.

I can’t wait to make this bread more often. Now I just need a bread maker for the kneading. The recipe allows you to knead by hand or use a bread maker. I highly recommend using a bread maker for the kneading because it takes quite a while.

Tangzhong

Ingredients
1/3 cup  bread flour
1 cup water

Directions
1. Mix flour and water together and whisk until it is completely dissolved and no lumps remain.
2. Pour mixture into a small pot and turn on medium heat. Begin stirring constantly as the mixture heats up. It will begin to thicken.  When the temperature of the mixture reaches 65 degrees Celsius, turn off the stove and take the mixture off the stove to let it cool. I used a thermometer but I’ve read from Christine’s website and several others that you can sort of eye it. If you are continually stirring, the mixture will start to have “lines ” and then it is done. I started to see lines around the same time the temperature reached 65C.


3. Once the mixture is cooled, pour it into a bowl and cover the top using plastic wrap. Place the wrap directly onto the mixture to keep it from drying out and put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight. The paste does not keep well, so use within a few days.

Milk Bread (adapted from two of Christine’s recipes here and here,which she adapted from the 65 degrees book)
Yields 1 loaf

Update: Since my first attempt, I’ve got a better understanding of how the texture should turn out, how long the kneading should be, and I’ve taken better step by step photos. You can view the updated post here.

Ingredients:

2½ cups bread flour
3tbsp+2tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
120g tangzhong (about half of the tangzhong made)
2 tsp instant yeast (instant!! not active dry yeast!)
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
Directions
1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients. Knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue kneading. If you own a breadmaker or a food processor powerful enough to knead dough, I HIGHLY recommend using it. The dough takes a long time to knead. About half an hour by hand. The dough will start out to be extremely sticky.  Keep kneading until the dough is no longer sticky and is elastic. You should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.
2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Take a large bowl and grease with oil.  Place dough into  greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof until it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
3. Transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead into balls.  Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape.  (Christine took great step by step photos. Mine are a bit rushed and in bad lighting) Take one end of the dough and fold to meet the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold to meet on top.

5. Flip dough over with the folds facing down,and flatten dough with rolling pin.

6. Flip dough over so the folds face up. Now roll the dough up. (I actually messed up here. I forgot to flip the dough before rolling up, so you see that the dough is broken into two half on top instead of a smooth, uniform top.) Place each of the rolls into the bread pan. Let them rise for another 40 minutes.

7. Beat an egg and brush egg mixture on top to create shiny eggwash finish.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes.

Here’s a printable recipe:

Soft and Fluffy Milk Toast

Many recipes for milk bread call for an ingredient called "bread improver" which is very difficult to find in the US. It's what makes this Asian-style bread so soft and fluffy, so I was so happy to discover Yvonne Chen's tangzhong method, which is basically a DIY bread improver. It's a simple bread and water mixture that is cooked to 150°F (65°C) and then cooled before adding it to the dough, so plan to make the tangzhong in advance because it needs several hours to chill. I like to make it in the morning and prepare the rest of the bread in the afternoon.
5 from 18 votes

Ingredients

For the Tangzhong

  • 1/3 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup water

For the Milk Bread

  • 2 ½ cups bread flour
  • 3 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant yeast see note
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 120 g tangzhong use only half- add this to notes
  • 3 tbsp cubed butter softened
  • Oil

Instructions

Make the Tangzhong

  • To make the tangzhong, whisk the flour and water until smooth.
  • Transfer the flour mixture to a small saucepan and warm it over medium heat. As the mixtures heats up, stir continuously. You want to cook the mixture until it thickens and creates "lines" (see the blog post for more details). These lines indicate it's reached approximately 150°F (65°C).  If you are unsure, use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature.  Once it's at temperature, turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool. Once the mixture is cooled transfer it to a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap large enough to directly cover the surface of the mixture (to protect it from drying out) and to seal the bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill it for several hours. You will use half of the tangzhong for this recipe, so keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Make the Milk Bread

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a separate bowl, whisk one egg, milk, and tangzhong. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ones into it. Using your hands, mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones until a loose dough forms and add the butter. Continue mixing until the butter is incorporated. At this point, the dough will be very sticky so remove it from the bowl and knead it on the countertop. Knead the dough until it's no longer sticky. It should be elastic, which means you should be able to stretch a piece of it quite thin without it breaking. This process will take approximately 30 minutes to do by hand. To shorten the kneading process, you can use the kneading function on a breadmaker or a high-powered food processor instead of doing it by hand.
  • Coat the inside of a large bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with a wet towel. Leave the dough to proof for 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and divide it into four equals parts and shape each into a ball. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and rest them for 15 minutes.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into an oval shape. Fold one end of the dough to the center of the oval. Fold the other end so that it just overlaps the other in the middle. Turn the dough over with the folds facing down and flatten the dough with a rolling pin. Turn the dough over again - with the folds facing up - and, starting at one end, roll the dough up. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Place each rolled dough in a baking pan. Leave the dough to rise for 40 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush it on the top of the dough rolls in the pan. Bake the bread at 350°F (177°C) for approximately 30 minutes.

Notes

  • For this recipe, it's important to use instant yeast, which is mixed right into the dough and not dry active yeast, which needs to dissolve in water before using.

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

 

Subscribe to receive new post updates via email

don’t miss a thing!

Get new post updates via email:

208 comments on “Soft and Fluffy Milk Toast (with a secret ingredient to keep it soft)”

  1. Perfect recipe! The bread was the softest and best tasting I’ve ever had. Thank you.

  2. Made it today, it was so soft and fluffy, Loved it. Though i would love mine to be a bit sweeter, so maybe I will add more sugar the next time, I doubled the recipe and used the whole tangzhong (about 200 gms), I was hoping it would be enough and it was. Will definitely make be making it again and again. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe

  3. Very good recipe. My bread turned out perfect. I mixed 1 cup of whole wheat flour and had to add a little extra milk. Totally satisfied with it. Thank you very much for this recipe.

  4. Can i use all purpose flour instead of bread flour? we currently don’t have it where i live.

  5. Tried this! And it’s amazing.

    Can we freeze the dough overnight and then bake in the morning?

  6. I’ve been reading about tangzhong  starter for months now, and decided to try it this weekend, using your recipe. Delicious and so fluffy! I had enough plain bread using the first half of the starter, so with the second half, I decided to roll some escallion into the dough. It came out really good too! I’ll be making more this weekend. I used a bread machine by the way, and the dough was perfect.

  7. I’ve made this recipie a few times now i always end up needing to add an extra half cup if flour or the dough is too sticky.(i live in a pretty humid environment so that probably why) With the extra half cup it turns out amazing its my favorite bread recipe! My 4 yr old asks for me to make more at least once a week ?

  8. Really loved the outcome! Only problem is it tasted like cake – is that the right outcome? 

  9. Great recipe! Thanks for the step by step instructions and the tips! My bread came out great! 

  10. Can i use almond flour ?

  11. I have an issue whenever I make a bread. I made soft amd fluffy texture bread at night. But it turned into a slightly hard texture on another day. What’s the problem with it? Does every homemade bread happen like this as it doesn’t use chemical like bread improver?

    When I put it in an oven for 5mins for warming and the texture become soft as it was last night.

    • It’s normal for the bread to not be quite the same as when it is first baked. But using the tz method keeps it very soft without chemical bread improver

  12. the top part of the recipe calls for 1 egg but the summarise recipe calls for 2 eggs. I followed the summarise version and now my dough is too sticky… Should it be 1 or 2 eggs? And will this affect the bread texture?

  13. How long do I need to leave it in machine to knead the dough?

  14. the measurement for butter is it around 60g? i tried the receipe (Added 120g TZ) and use machine to knead and hand knead, but dough still turns out abit sticky.

  15. Best bread recipe! best texture bread i’d ever baked!

  16. This recipe is amazing. The texture is oh so soft. I have been making this all weekend.
    Thanks for sharing 

  17. I forget to ask you on my previous post can I use whole-wheat bread flour instead of white bread flour.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating