A Southern Grace: milking it

February 25, 2016

milking it


We were all set to have a nice dinner at the local and recently country-renowned restaurant Kindred when Mother Nature stepped in and unloaded a heap of ice and snow.

Given its new-found and widespread popularity, it might be awhile before we actually make it there, but in the meantime, I found a recipe for their popular milk bread and decided it was definitely doable and definitely worth a try.

I'm definitely more comfortable making bread, and what would've been an incredibly daunting recipe in the past now seemed like a fun challenge. The recipe wasn't hard to follow, but it was definitely different from any other breads I've made. It makes use of an Asian baking technique called the tangzhong method, which refers to adding a roux of flour and water (or milk) to your yeast bread mixture, which helps make it lighter and fluffier when it’s baked.

So why does this method work? Basically, you are making a gel (or a roux) out of a portion of the flour and liquid that goes into the bread, and this gel essentially locks in in the liquid throughout the entire rest of the mixing and baking process so it doesn’t evaporate. The flour in the roux is also sealed away and will not develop gluten during the kneading process. As a result, the baked bread has a higher moisture content and lower gluten development, which means it’s softer and lighter and stays that way for longer.

This bread is enriched with butter, milk, and egg, and all that added moisture and fat make it easier to work it and more forgiving than your leaner breads. I will say that I regret not having a stand mixer for this process--I don't think I kneaded the dough long enough, but the bread still turned out delicious and with a wonderful texture. I'll be using this technique again, and soon!

Milk Bread
(printable recipe)
Makes 2 9x5-inch loaves
Barely adapted from this recipe, with tips from this recipe
  • 5-1/3 cups bread flour, divided, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/3 cup mild honey
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • Coarse salt
Cook 1/3 cup flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (almost like a roux but looser), about 5 minutes. One site I found said that it's ready when it reaches about 149 degrees F, the temperature when the starches in the flour gelatinize and the tangzhong comes together into a pudding-like roux.
Add cream or milk and honey and cook, whisking to blend, until honey dissolves. Make sure the mixture isn't above 120 degrees F, lest you kill your yeast.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large mixing bowl and add milk powder, yeast, salt, 2 eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour.
Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes, or knead by hand for about 10 minutes.
Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat.
When the dough looks like it has doubled in size and is puffy to the touch (if you poke the dough it should hold the indent and slowly fill back in), take the dough and split into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside.
Roll one piece out on a lightly floured surface into a long oval. Fold the right third of the oval over the middle, then fold the left third of the oval over the middle to make a long, narrow packet. Lightly roll over the seam to flatten and seal.
Roll the packet up from the bottom to make a fat roll. Repeat with other seven balls of dough.
Arrange four rolls of dough, seam side down, in each prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for another 40 minutes until the dough reaches just below the rim of the loaf pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl to blend.
Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown, starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, and is baked through, about 30 minutes.
Let milk bread cool slightly in pan on a wire rack before turning out; let cool completely.


Alicia Foodycat said...

I've done the tangzhong method in burger buns, but not in a whole loaf before. This looks lovely - and I love the way you've shaped it!

Angie's Recipes said...

Love it! Haven't baked tangzhong in ages!!

Carolyn Jung said...

I have heard so much about this method that I can't wait to give it a try. I admit I love my hearty, crusty artisan loaves. But there are times you just want something fluffy soft like this. Irresistible!

lisa is cooking said...

So interesting! I'd love to give this a try. The texture looks amazing.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love tangzhong in baking. It really adds a lot to the overall texture. The texture of your milk bread look divine! I'll have to try this recipe!

Pam said...

Seriously drooling here. A big dollop of butter and it would be absolute perfection! Nothing better than homemade bread fresh from the oven.

Cheesy Pennies said...

Holy smokes that is a gorgeous loaf of bread! I'm going to have to try this over the weekend. :)

Tania | My Kitchen Stories said...

Oh gosh so gorgeous. Oh no I am going to have to make it!!

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

Just the name Milk Bread makes me want to eat it and eat it and eat it! With butter and jam. YUM.

Marcelle said...

I've already printed this out! Looking amazing and I'm gonna bake some as soon as I can :)

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

This recipe should intimidate me, but curiosity about this bread will win. Putting it on the baking list.
Kindred's menu sounds wonderful, I'd take some Pork Saltimbocca please!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

How interesting! I have always wanted to make those filled Asian buns that have such an interesting texture.

Unknown said...

The doughs just proving now but after a quick taste of the dough, it seems really salty ...... is it 2 tablespoons of salt or should it be teaspoons?

Also the yeast seems a lot .... should these be teaspoons?

I'm assuming the 3 tablespoons of dried milk is OK.

grace said...

@Mike Mortimer: The amounts are correct, though I suppose you could decrease the salt if you find the bread too salty. I think it's perfect, but I might be an over-salter. What did you think of the taste of the baked bread?

Unknown said...

Hi Grace .... my first attempt was way too salty for me and I reduced it to 2 teaspoons for the next batch, which is more in-line with how we'd do bread here in the UK. Commercial bakeries here use what's called 'bun concentrate' which is a mix of dry ingredients that make the bread soft and give shelf-life. Your techniques gives me all their qualities and more without chucking in a load of chemicals ... also because it's aimed at commercial operations the minimum pack size is 10 kg ... a life time's supply for a household cook.

The yeast, although more than I'd expect worked great with quite a vigorous rise.

Second attempt nailed it for me ... many thanks ... Mike

grace said...

@Mike: Hooray! I'm glad you gave it a second chance--it's truly my favorite bread to date. :)

Anonymous said...

When I initially commented I seem to have clicked
on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
and now whenever a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact
same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?

grace said...

@anonymous: That's really weird, because at this point, I'm not even getting notified when there's a new comment. Is there an unsubscribe option on the email? That's my only idea.