Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baking: Tangzhong / Water Roux Method

Read that Tangzhong method is the latest craze among Asian homemakers. It supposedly makes the bread stay soft for the next days using no bread improver. I certainly miss soft and fluffy bread/roll/bun that we have in the Philippines. So I was excited to try this method. 

Water Roux: 1 Part Bread Flour:5 Parts Water/Milk

I have hardly any experience baking with yeast but still, I was yearning for asian-type of bread. What choice but to make it. The first time I attempted to bake with tangzhong was a huge mess in the kitchen. I baked one loaf of raisin bread and 12 cinnamon rolls. 
For the raisin bread, I used my hand to knead. I couldn't even roll it because the dough kept on sticking. Kneaded for 30 minutes and I simply gave up. I didn't have the "membrane" that supposedly should be to know when to stop to knead. I let it rise for an hour and punched it down. I simply couldn't work with the dough because it was way too sticky. As a sign of defeat, I had to ask my husband to help me with the dough. He is the expert in baking between us though he had not heard of this method.
For the cinnamon rolls, I used the hand mixer. The dough was way better to work with. The only thing I was afraid of is that my hand mixer would overheat. After 25 minutes of kneading, I stopped. Unfortunately, I didn't achieve this "membrane" phase again. 
The end products were softer than the usual bread/roll here in Germany. The next day, I felt that they weren't any different from the normal bread/roll: no longer soft and a bit dry.

Check out the texture and how many I ate....hehe

After reading the raves and rants about this method, I figured, I had to try it again. So within a week, I attempted the method again with cinnamon rolls. From the start, I used the hand mixer. I even got to the point when the dough was shiny and elastic. Yohooo!! It took about 35 minutes with the hand mixer. To cut it short, the end product was SOOOOOO SOFT AND SOOOO FLUFFY. The next day, it was still soft although not as soft as the day it was baked. Ok, I have to give credit to my husband once again for helping me with the dough and finishing the proofing/rolling. I was too tired to make/finish it.
The photos below illustrate how soft the roll was even on the second day.

Couldn't stop pressing it down and seeing it rise back to its size :)

In the future, I will only bake with this method every now and then. Whatever we normally bake gets eaten up within 2 days. The long process from making the roux, waiting for it to cool, kneading,  proofing, isn't for me. When I feel I miss the soft asian bread once more, I know what I can do. 

Lessons learned:
1) Never stop kneading until the dough is shiny, elastic, and not sticky. 
2) Need time and patience to work with this method. If you don't have both, don't do it.
Purposely didn't put any glaze. Tried to make the rolls healthier...grins.

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