Crummy crumb? Try 湯種!
February 15, 2018 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Yudane or yukone, known as tangzhong in Chinese, is a bread baking technique that begins with a water (or milk) roux, heating flour and liquid to 65C to gelatinize the starches. It produces loaves that are tender, springy, moist, and resistant to staling, with a significantly different crumb. Its most famous application is in Hokkaido Milk Bread, but is also useful for bagels, rolls, and any application where a tender crumb or long shelf life is desirable.

It was popularized in home baking by Yvonne Chen's cookbook, 65C Bread Doctor, and the technique has since been promoted by the New York Times, Cook's Illustrated, King Arthur Flour, and, of course, Serious Eats.
posted by uncleozzy (19 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting stuff! I like this line from of the links:
"When you make bread using the Tangzhong method, you’re decreasing the amount of loofah structure and increasing the amount of damp sponge structure."
posted by Kabanos at 7:18 AM on February 15

What a wonderful blog at the first link. I'm enchanted. I've followed it.
posted by infini at 7:18 AM on February 15

Oh man, I want to make Hokkaido milk bread so badly, but obv, I'd have to veganize it. I wonder if that can be done? I'm a carb-fiend so every time I see one of these loaves, I get real happy.
posted by Kitteh at 7:23 AM on February 15

I'd have to veganize it. I wonder if that can be done?

I'm not convinced the recipe needs an egg. There's little reason you couldn't use a nut milk plus some coconut oil and maaaaybe a little extra sugar if the nut milk is unsweetened.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:33 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

You are a good person for posting this.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:34 AM on February 15

Eggs are generally optional in bread, unless you're doing something like challah. The overwhelmingly most important factor in the vast majority of yeast breads is the flour-to-liquid ratio. Nearly everything else ingredient-wise can be hugely variable. Eggs will add richness and color and a little fat, and worst case you could add a little oil and water or vegan milk.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:37 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]

I first tried that Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe last year—it works well. It's like half-bread, half-cake, so my kids love it.

Another good recipe that makes a soft white bread is Puerto Rican Water Bread (Pan de Agua). That one's vegan, if you skip the egg-wash (which I do anyway because I can't be bothered).
posted by rory at 7:47 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]

I was just reading that Serious Eats bagel recipe a few minutes ago and thinking about giving it a try.
posted by briank at 7:53 AM on February 15

(Also that whole IT MUST BE BETWEEN 108 AND 110 DEGREES OR ELSE IT WILL SUMMON THE GOBLIN HORDE thing is more baking-as-cargo-cult nonsense. It's no more complicated than this: If the water's too hot, you'll kill the yeast, but otherwise it doesn't matter except that it might take a little longer to proof. If you put a warm dough on a counter to rise, it becomes room-temp dough. If you put a cold dough on the counter to rise, it also, shockingly, becomes room-temp dough. The warm dough saves you a little bit of time is all. So just use warm water and don't go rushing to the store for a thermometer.)
posted by middleclasstool at 7:59 AM on February 15 [9 favorites]

That's an... odd application of the term roux. Roux is fat and flour, not any liquid and flour. In also a little skeptical of the Bread Maiden's claim that "[bread] with high gluten formation tastes chewy". I'm not sure that chewy is actually a flavour.

The fundamental idea seems fascinating, though, and worth a few weeks' experimentation in the kitchen. Great post!
posted by Dysk at 8:16 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

Kitteh, the instructions in the third link are just for flour and water, so it seems egg and milk are not required!
posted by rikschell at 8:21 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]

I've been baking breads since the beginning of the year. I started with a British Bloomer and now I make it once or twice a week.

I made the NY Times Japanese Milk Bread linked above twice. Both times I reduced the sugar based on feedback from other reviewers (2nd time I cut sugar in half). It's a great dough to work with but the final product was too light for anything other than toast. It was not a good sandwich bread. I would make it again for dinner rolls. The texture was very similar to brioche.

I am struggling now with my sourdough starter. I think my next AskMeFi will be why won't my sourdough ferment. It just sits there and makes hooch.
posted by shoesietart at 9:29 AM on February 15

It's a great dough to work with but the final product was too light for anything other than toast. It was not a good sandwich bread

I've made the pain au lait loaf from the Pastry Chef Online link a couple of times now, and the second time I reduced the butter and sugar a bit. The texture was great, more like commercial white bread than like brioche. It made really awesome PB+Js.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:44 AM on February 15

The warm dough saves you a little bit of time is all. So just use warm water and don't go rushing to the store for a thermometer.

Pros will tell you not to save the time in most cases since the longer proofing time will give you better structure - less crumbly bread with longer protein chains. It will be less cake-like, which I guess in this case might defeat the purpose? Cold water actually works best, but it means your bread will take patience.

But if you're aiming for a specific structure, temperature matters.
posted by ptfe at 12:32 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]

The first link actually talks you through the logic of the temperature
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]

I’m not a big fan of most breads in general so I’m by no means an expert. Can someone explain how this bread is different than Wonder bread? Im looking at pictures and it looks just like wonder bread to me. Even the descriptions- chewy, slightly sweet, doesn’t go stale, small crumb texture, etc
posted by raccoon409 at 9:42 AM on February 16

From my experimentation, it's denser, and it's not quite the same kind of chewiness. (I can't comment on the sweetness, since I refuse to eat or bake sweet bread due to childhood trauma relating to moving from access to Danish bakeries to Hong Kong bakeries, that seem to think bread should be at least 50% sugar by mass).
posted by Dysk at 9:47 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]

The Hokkaido Milk Bread looks amazing, mainly because it looks like it's a Blackpool Milk Roll without needing the special tin.

If it is indeed a similar beast, I reccomend making nutella sandwiches with it.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:38 AM on February 16

Nice post! Using tangzhong is great for making really soft bread by hand without having to spend ages kneading fat in.
posted by lucidium at 7:39 AM on February 18

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