Baking Diary – Log 15 – 31.10.2012
—This post was written in 31.10.2012 —
This Tangzhong serie intentionally includes 2 parts: The Universal Tangzhong Recipe Converting Formula and Examples. This is part 1/2.
UPDATED 09/11/2012: Link to part 2, here.
I am back.
“Eh, that soon? We have not even fathomed your last (ridiculously) long post!” you think.😉
Tehe, I am now having quite a flexible schedule to fill in, especially at night, while waiting for the baking course to start. I am trying my best not to be free and lazy too much to loose any gram of baking passion while suffering from being away from baking for real. I have been missing baking so, so much, but there ain’t nothing to do without an actual oven😦.
With such “sorrow” in my heart, I reminisce my glorious baking moments in Finland by staring at my photo collection and rewriting my baking experience on this blog.😛 Furthermore, while browsing through my old posts, I recall that I have quite a lot of recipes that I promise to get back to, but somehow, conveniently, forgot.😉 So, today, in this very post, I will reveal the ultimate magic of the neighborhood commercial bakeries: The Secret to Softer, Fluffier, and Moister Bread that Stays Fresh for Days.
Side Story 1 – How it all started
Since the first bread I tried when I was in elementary school, I have grown quite an appetite for soft, springy and fluffy bread, like those made commercially in Vietnam’s bakeries. Since I learned how to bake, I have tried to revive the quality of that kind of bread I loves, but somehow, the texture of home baked bread often turned out denser, harder and not as tasty the next day. I always wonder why the buns sold in my home country’s bakeries are always soft and moist even after days in room condition. First I thought that it must be some secret ingredients like bread improver, or some heavy-duty machines, or something even more powerful, and that it is quite impossible to imitate that quality into home baking.
Not too long ago, I came across this particular method. At first, I find the idea new and rather troublesome since it requires an extra step of making the paste. Therefore, due to my laziness; I dropped the idea immediately. Till one beautiful morning in 2011 summer, I got curious after reading various discussions on The Fresh Loaf and mostly bored, I tried this method. To my very surprise and slice regret of not trying it sooner, it worked like a charm! Since then, I was hooked!
Here is my Daily loaf using the tangzhong.
And its crumb.
Guys, the results of this method in my kitchen are way beyond AWESOMENESS!! For those who grow an obsession with soft, moist and spongy bun, like me, this tangzhong/ water roux method recipe is definitely worth a try! Now we can produce homemade bread that is so soft, moist and fluffy as well as stay fresh for up to five days! Yep, you read the words correctly.🙂 And the best part is, it needs no expensive or additional ingredients/utensils needed rather than those that are already in your pantry/counter: water and flour, a hand whisk, a saucepan, and a working stove.😀
Excited? I am, already. >D<
Introduction to the Tangzhong/Water Roux method
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. In her book, tangzhong “湯種”, is described as the “secret ingredient” which is originated from Japan to make breads fluffier. In Japanese, tangzhong means either a warm or thin starchy (flour-based) starter. It is indeed a kind of “flour paste”, produced by cooking 1 part of bread flour with 5 parts of water to 65°C. Bread that’s made with tangzhong is called tangzhong bread. Ever since, the method stays, because it really does work, like magic.😀 It became very popular in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Asia countries like Vietnam.
How it works
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. At 65°C, the gluten in the flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and become leavened. When tangzhong is added into other ingredients of the bread, the bread dough’s moisture (hydration) will be sufficiently heightened. As the result, adding tangzhong into your bread recipe will give you softer, fluffier bread that has fine crumbs and springy texture. Cherry on top, it has better anti-staling effect, hence the long lasting characteristic!
Making Tangzhong/ Water Roux
Here’s how you can also make this “secret weapon” in just three simple steps. Have no thermometer? Scared of the number 65? Hey, me too, till now. Hakuna Matata! (“It means no worries, for the rest of your day…” Timon and Dumba – Lion King, if you remember)😀 we can still enjoy great tangzhong made with just human basic sensing, the eyes, as demonstrated below.
Ingredients (This amount is roughly enough to make two daily loafs)
- 50gram = 1/3 cup bread flour
- 250ml = 1 cup water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
NOTE: Because of the loss during evaporation, the final weight of your tangzhong will not be exactly the same as when you measure flour and water weight. Therefore, I usually add about 2g of flour and 10g of water more than needed in the recipe, then cook the tangzhong, measure out the needed amount, and discard the very small amount of leftover.🙂
Step 1: Measure and mix flour in water well without any lumps.
Step 2: Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent sticking and burning in the bottom. The mixture will thicken up quite quickly. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, like below, and that’s it, your tangzhong is done.
If you prefer more accurate result, you might like to use a thermometer to check the temperature. After a few trials, I found this simple sensing works every time.🙂
Step 3: Remove from heat. Transfer the tangzhong into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool to room temperature before use.
NOTE: The tangzhong can be used straight away once it is cool. The leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge up to a few days. If it turns grey, you need to discard it immediately and cook up a new batch. Chilling the tangzhong does not add more flavors to it. The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients.
How to apply the Tangzhong/ Water Roux method into your bread recipes
“Well Rose, thank you so much for the demonstration, very detailed, and just the same as some thousands other blog posts I see on the Internet, searching for this method. Thank you!” Guys, look a bit closer, do you see that what they have to offer is mostly ready-made, ready-to-bake recipes? Have you ever wondered why they use 140g of tangzhong in that recipe but not 141 or 139?
Since I try this method, I have always had problems searching for good ready-made recipes online when trying to apply this method into new ideas like whole wheat, milk buns, whole grain, rye, etc. in this vast ocean of information. Therefore, to make mine a little different than what others have already offered, in this post, I will not, again, offer ready-to-bake recipes, but a formula for you to convert your own favorite bread recipes into new ones using the Tangzhong/Water Roux method.🙂 Now we don’t have to wandering around researching for recipes, wanting to try out this method on your favorite breads. YAY!
Recipe Converting Calculation
The calculation to apply the Tangzhong method into your daily bread recipes is quite simple. It goes like this:
1) Using 5% of the total flour weight in your original recipe as the flour of the tangzhong. Or tangzhong flour weight = original flour weight x 5% (or 0.05). After that, you have the total flour weight in the new tangzhong recipe = the original weight – 5% of it = only 95% of the original total flour weight in the old, normal recipe.
2) Water weight of the tangzhong = tangzhong flour weight x5. Water/liquid weight left in the new tangzhong recipe = original water/liquid weight of the old, normal recipe – water weight of the tangzhong (or tangzhong flour weight x5)
3) All other ingredients such as yeast, salt, sugar, fat, etc. that are not concerned with flour or liquid, are kept the same in the new tangzhong recipe as the original recipe.
You can use as high as 10% of the total flour weight into the tangzhong/water roux, but I find that 5% is enough to make a big difference in your final outcome; recipes found on the Internet also vary from 5-7% of the flour weight. Just play with it, experiment a little to find your favorite percentage.🙂
Some other sources of water/liquid, adding up to total dough hydration/moisture
Some of you might wonder, what if in the recipes, it is not very clear what are sources of liquid? What if there is no water or milk, or the like? What about in some recipes where the main source of hydration is from eggs, butter, and to some extent, liquid sweeteners but not water or milk, like brioche for example? The cases are actually very exceptional. I very rarely see a recipe where there is not enough pure water/milk to apply my tangzhong formula. Nevertheless, exceptions do exist (like Baking Obsession’s Brioche recipe for instance), and we have to be prepared.🙂
So here, I include the water percentage of those ingredients to assist you in converting your bread recipe when using the tangzhong method.
- Cold, Melted or Soften Butter = 75% weight is fat, 25% weight is water (butter can be up to 80% fat, but the difference is going to be minuscule in the overall calculation)
- Liquid sweeteners like honey or molasses = 65% weight is sugar, 35% weight is water.
- Large eggs weigh between 63 and 73 grams = 25% weight is fat and protein, 75% weight is water.
- Oil, pure fat, lard or shortening does not add up any liquid to the dough hydration, they rather act as a tenderizer. Therefore, weight of oil does not count when calculating the amount of water needed to add when using the tangzhong method.
You have to be careful, especially with these first two touchy babies butter and liquid sweetener, because when you deduce the weight of these ingredients, you cannot simply separate the water out of butter, or honey; therefore, when adding the tangzhong, you can accidentally omit some of important ingredients in the recipes, like fat %, or sugar %.
Because the water weight in butter or liquid sweetener is not significant, you should only play with the big and watery guy here, eggs, and egg whites to be exact. Why egg whites? White is the common name for the clear liquid (also called the albumen or the glair/glaire) contained within an egg. Egg white consists primarily of about 90% water into which is dissolved 10% protein. Unlike the yolk, which is high fat, egg white contains almost no fat, and the carbohydrate content is less than 1%. (Wikipedia) Basically, when comparing between those two guys, we all see what should be sacrifices first when reducing the egg quantity is egg white.
So, my suggestion when applying the tangzhong method on these delicate recipes is to deduct the egg white weight when adding equal amount of water (in the tangzhong). To help you understand more clearly what I mean, here is an example.
EXAMPLE: Five regular-sized eggs weight total of 50g x 5 = 250g (without shell), in which the total white weight is is 30g x 5 = 150g.
The recipe call for 3 cup = 375g total flour weight. Therefore, the tangzhong flour weight you should use is 375g x 5% = 18.75g. The tangzhong water weight is 18.75g x 5 = 93.75g. The leftover egg white weight needed is 150g – 93.75g = 56.25g.
In the final recipe converted from Baking Obsession’s original one, you, as the result, will need:
- 375g – 18.75g = 356.25g bread flour
- Butter, sugar, yeast, salt amount is the same as the original
- 112.5g tangzhong (consist of 18.75g flour + 93.75g water)
- 5 egg yolks
- 56.25g egg whites (roughly 2 egg whites)
Get a hang of it yet?🙂
If you have any trouble converting a recipe, I am more than willing to help.
“Alert! Alert! Too much calculation! Brain freezes counting down! 3, 2, 1…. Ehhhhhhhhhh“
I am typing the rest of this research, and just like old times, my brain is busted, yet again. Therefore, I have no other choice but to see you guys again in the next post, when I give out detail examples of how I converting my bread recipe into those that apply the tangzhong method. It will come together with a fabulous tangzhong bread converted recipe that Mr. Bear adores: whole-wheat savory apart bread baked in clay pot; so do come back!🙂
See you real soon,
UPDATED 09/11/2012: Link to part 2, here.
- Dochi & Mochi, link 1, link 2
- Christine’s Recipe link
- The Fresh Loaf discussion, link 1, link 2
- Bread making Technique of Recipies.50web.com
- And various Tangzhong bread recipes around to cross-calculate with my formula.🙂
I submitted this to YeastSpotting.