This is a whole wheat twist on the popular Hokkaido milk bread (see my previous post for pictures of this amazingly fluffy bread!). Hokkaido milk bread is popular in Chinese bakeries because of its super soft, pillowy texture and its ever so slightly sweet taste – all wrapped up in a paper thin, soft and shiny crust. Hokkaido milk bread is traditionally made with white flour, but I thought I would make a more fibrous version by substituting in strong wholemeal flour. I decided to replace just under half the flour with brown flour (43% exactly), which seems to have not had a detrimental effect on the traditional Hokkaido milk bread texture at all (yay!), yet makes it a little more healthy and justifiable at the same time. I’ve also added some mixed seeds to give it a little more texture and flavour. I think it would be interesting to see what difference is made if I increase the ratio of wholemeal to white flour in this recipe. How would 60-70% fare, I wonder? That might be might next experiment as I never get sick of eating this bread! It tastes like home and clouds and all things good 🙂
Ingredients for tangzhong paste:
25g strong white flour
Ingredients for dough:
All of the tangzhong paste
135 ml whole milk
7g fast action yeast
200g strong white bread flour
150g strong wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon or 5g salt
1 large egg
30 g unsalted butter (melted)
130g of mixed seeds of your choosing (I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds,…)
(plus an additional egg for brushing on top before baking)
First, make the tangzhong paste (water roux). In a pan, mix the flour with the cold water until there are no lumps. Then, whisk quickly over a low heat until the mixture thickens to a paste. It should be about 65C if you have a thermometer (I use a laser thermometer) – although you don’t really need a thermometer, just keep an eye out for when it thickens to the right pudding-like consistency. It should be a white colour, if it has grey lumps chuck it out and start again.
Cover the tangzhong and place in the fridge until cooled to room temperature.
Next, mix the tangzhong with the milk, melted butter (should be warm but not too hot to touch) and egg. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients (including the seeds), ensuring the salt is not poured directly on top of the yeast.
Mix this until all the flour is roughly incorporated, then tip on to a surface and knead until smooth and very elastic such that you can stretch it paper thin using your fingers (see picture below!). The dough should be a little sticky and difficult to work with initially, but keep kneading and it should become easier to work with. A dough scraper may come in useful too. You can add a little flour to help make kneading easier but avoid adding too much.
When the dough is elastic and shiny, place it in a container and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for about an hour, at room temperature.
Once the dough is more than doubled in size, divide into four roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, then roll up tightly and gently press on the seam to seal. Place this, seam side down, into a baking tin. Repeat this with all the pieces of dough. (see pictures below!)
Loosely cover the tin with cling film, and let rise at room temperature for about another hour. Before rising, my dough reached just over half way up the tin (see picture above), but see the pictures below for how big it was after rising!
Brush the dough with beaten egg…
Then bake for about 5-8 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C (at this point the bread should have formed a shiny brown crust), then bake for a further 25 (ish) minutes at 160C. Keep an eye on the baking and cover the loaf with foil once you’ve achieved the desired golden brown colour – this will usually only take about 5-10 minutes to!
Once ready, remove the loaf from the oven and let cool for a bit. Gently remove from the tin and enjoy it warm!