Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hokkaido Milk Loaf (Tangzhong Method) ~ 北海道牛乳面包 (汤种法)

This bread needs no introduction, I'm sure lots of people have heard about it. This recipe was all the rage as early as 2008. It has been on my to-do-list since I have gotten hold of this book 65°C 汤种面包 (陈豫芬/Yvonne C) eons ago. I can't remember exactly when, but I think I must have lugged it back from Singapore 2-3 years back, a book (among many others) which my sis bought on one of her frequent biz trips to Taiwan. I dunno what took me so long to attempt this bread, not that I am chinese-illiterate, quite the reverse. 

Anyway, I realise I have been making breads using Alex Goh's Sweet Bread Dough for far too long, it's a recipe that I am very used to, having made tens of breads and buns using the same recipe. Now it's time to try out another good sweet bread dough recipe. The very famous Hokkaido Milk Loaf. I am glad I made the switch, albeit 2 years late, but better late than never. I think I would have to try out Alex Goh's Sweet Bread Dough one of these days together with this Hokkaido Milk Loaf in order to compare the softness and fluffiness of these 2 breads. I think the Hokkaido Milk Loaf may win because of the high milk and whipped cream content, I am not sure. I don't think the difference lies in the "tangzhong" method versus the "scalded dough" method, I think the difference lies in the milk and whipped cream content. Hmm, now I have another pet project in mind, to change the water to milk/whipped cream in Alex Goh's recipe and come up with an improved version of the sweet bread dough recipe, haha. :)

Note the surface was slightly wrinkly bcos I covered the loaf while it was still hot with alum foil while I went picnicking with the round bread, resulting in condensation. Silly me!

I am gonna state down the amount of ingredients both for making 2 loaves versus 1 loaf, to save me from making the same silly mistake again.  You know what, I originally intended to make just one loaf, but I didn't jot down the halved quantity, I just looked at the original recipe on my tablet and did the mental calculation on the fly, everything went fine, until I forgot to halve the yeast, salt and sugar! Shit, got to double the flour and other ingredients again, thank god I haven't started my bread machine yet. I think human minds cannot do mental calculation when they are under stressed conditions, at least mine couldn't. Talk about multi-tasking, I am apparently not very good at it! 

I adapted the recipe from Christine's recipe although I do own the book, reason being the original chinese recipe in the book does not tell me how long I need to knead the bread, it only says to knead until "完全阶段". I didn't have the patience to read through the front part of the book which describes in chinese what the various stages are in kneading. But now I understand that "完全阶段" means to knead until stretchable like a membrane with smooth edges round the holes (完全阶段=可拉开的薄膜,破洞边缘为光滑状), whereas "扩展阶段" means to knead until stretchable like a membrane with rough edges round the holes (扩展阶段=可拉开的薄膜,破洞边缘为锯齿状). It sounds almost exactly like my Alex Goh's sweet bread dough recipe where you can test the stage of the dough with either the membrane test or the poke-a-hole test. Alex Goh uses the "scalded dough" method whereby 70ml of boiling water is added to 100g of bread flour and mixed into a rough dough, which is then covered and placed in the fridge for at least 12 hours. On the other hand, Yvonne C's "tangzhong" method requires mixing 50g of bread flour with 250ml of water in a pot over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches a temp of 65C, or until lines appear in the mixture as you stir with a spoon. 

The texture of this Hokkaido Milk Loaf was, needless to say, very soft and fluffy, and it remained so even on the 2nd and 3rd day. I baked this last Saturday and we finished off the round loaf during a picnic on the same day, whereas I had a chance to taste the rectangular loaf on the 2nd day and 3rd day. It was still very soft, because I kept it wrapped in 2 layers of clingwrap and then in a bread bag.

Recipe adapted from Christine's recipe

Ingredients for Tangzhong (sufficient to make 2 loaves)
50g bread flour (1/3 cup)
250ml water (1 cup)

(Note: proportion of bread flour to water should always be 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water. However do not be confused with the volume/density of bread flour versus that of water, since 1 part bread flour is 1/3 cup whereas 5 parts water is 1 cup.)

1. Mix water with bread flour and stir well until it is no longer lumpy. Cook over medium low heat in a non-stick pot, stirringly constantly with a wooden spoon/rubber spatula/egg whisk, to prevent burning and sticking to the pot.

2. The tangzhong (汤种) mixture is ready once it achieves the temp of 65 degrees celsius or once you notice that "lines" start to appear in the mixture every time you stir it. At this stage, the tangzhong should have the consistency and texture of glue. 

3. Remove the pot from heat immediately and transfer the tangzhong into a clean bowl, and cover with clingwrap sticking onto the surface of the tangzhong  to prevent it from drying up. The "tangzhong" can be used as soon as it cools down to room temperature. You can keep it chilled in the fridge for 2-3 days but discard it as soon as the mixture starts to turn grey. 

Ingredients for 2 loaves (about 1080g in total)
540g bread flour
86g caster sugar
8g salt or 1.5 tsp (1 tsp is about 5.5g)
9g milk powder or 1 tbsp (1 tbsp is about 10g)
11g instant yeast or 3.75 tsp (1 tsp is about 3 g)
86g whisked egg or 1.5 egg (1 average egg is about 60g)
59g whipping cream
54g milk
184g tangzhong dough
49g unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for 1 loaf (about 540g)
270g bread flour
43g caster sugar
4g salt or 0.75 tsp 
4.5g milk powder or 0.5 tbsp
5.5g instant yeast or 1.8 tsp 

43g whisked egg (3/4 of 1 egg)
30g whipping cream
27g milk
92g tangzhong starter dough (see above on how to make tangzhong)
25g unsalted butter, melted

1. First add all the wet ingredients except the butter (egg, whipping cream, milk, tangzhong) into the bread machine, followed by the dry ingredients (bread flour, sugar,  salt, milk powder, yeast) and select the "dough" mode. Do not add the melted butter yet. Only when all the ingredients come together to form a rough dough, then add the melted butter and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. (Based on my experience with Alex Goh's sweet bread dough, I let it knead for 2 dough cycles, i.e. 2*20 = 40 min in total. My dough mode is 20 min kneading + 10 min rest + 20 min kneading, but I always skip the resting and restart the dough mode again. I tested the dough at 30 min, but it was still very sticky, so I decided to stick to 40 min kneading.)

2. Cover the dough with a greased clingwrap and place it in a warm enclosed space to let it undergo the 1st proofing, about 40 min. (I made the quantity for 2 loaves and I proofed the dough for about 40min.)

3. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 if you are making 2 loaves. Punch down and deflate each dough and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll it round, cover with clingwrap and let it rest for 15 min at room temp. (The total weight for 2 loaves was about 1080g, divided by 2 = 540g per loaf, divided by 3 = 180g per portion. I let them rest for 15 min at room temp.)

4. On a clean floured surface, roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Fold 1/3 from the left edge to the middle and another 1/3 from the right edge to the middle, and seal both edges in the middle. Turn it the other way round so that the sealed edges are facing down. Roll it flat so that it stretches to about 30cm in length.  Then flip it back again so that the sealed edges are facing upwards, and roll the dough into a cyclinder, like a swiss roll. Do it for all 3 portions, and place the pieces into a greased loaf tin, cover with greased clingwrap and let it proof in a warm enclosed space for the 2nd proofing, for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. (I only have a 400g pullman loaf tin, so I put 3 pieces into the pullman loaf tin. For the other 3 pieces, I sliced each piece further into 2, so that there were 6 pieces, and I placed them facing upwards in my 8-inch chiffon pan. I was rushing for time, so I only proofed both breads for 40 min, ideally you should let it proof for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.)  

5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Brush the surface of the bread with egg wash and bake for 30 to 35 min, or until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack for cooling.  (I baked both my breads in the lowest shelf of the oven for 30 min. Halfway through, I took out the breads and applied the egg wash a second time. Do note that you should only apply the egg wash gently with a baking brush on the top surface of the bread. Do not press too hard and do not allow the egg wash to drip to the sides, otherwise it will be difficult to unmould the bread later.)

I am submitting this post to Bake-Along #52 - Hokkaido Milk Loaf organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.



  1. Hi Miss B,

    I smiled seeing all the sprinkles that you have in the picture of your two Hokkaido Milk Loaves! They must be magically soft and delicious!!! - LOL!

    We didn't have a chance to try it on the second and third day of bake... Instead, I kept the extra in our freezer and when it was thawed to room temperature, they are equally soft!

    Btw... about your comment, I feel the same too with some food products that are made in China. I try to avoid them as much as I can. The flour that I used is from Taiwan. I used to be able to buy Hong Kong flour but can't find this brand anymore :(


  2. Wow! I can see how soft and fluffy your bread turn out. Love to have some please :)

  3. Hi Miss B,
    I like both methods of baking this bread, but personally, I prefer the Alex Goh's method. Easier! Haha!
    Your bread bakes up beautifully.
    Thank you for baking along with us!

  4. Looking at all the beautiful Hokkaido milk loaves, I am so tempted to make it too. Looks gorgeous!

  5. i love the texture of your loaf. am sure it is good to eat it on its own

  6. Ha, it happens to me too everytime I did a mental calculation for my baking recipes, could never remember to half all the ingredients! Anyway, your bread looks really feather soft! Got to try this recipe too!

  7. good morning! i like alex goh's gelatinised method of making bread me both of are equally good, perhaps the tangzhong method may produce a lighter kind of loaf.. and tell me about it, i hv numerous occasion that i made a mistake in halving the amount of ingredients too. Finally you were able to try out this bread and thx for baking along with us! well done, bread looks super soft!

  8. Hi Bee,
    Your hokkaido bread looks so soft and the texture is so fine.
    I have not bake with tangzhong before. Must try it out soon.

    Have a nice week ahead :)

  9. Ladies,
    Thank you so much for your comments, it's really a pleasure joining you gals for bake-along. Really hope to join more often in the future. :)

  10. Hi

    The bread is really look soft like feather from the pic :)

    I'm aware of this Tangzhong Method for quite some time now, but like Kitchen Flavors, Alex Goh method is much easier.. hahahahaa..... because I dont have the thermometer and worried that I cannot detect the viewing method to determine it's done. In addition, with the clingwrap stick close to the hot mixture to prevent from drying on top layer..... is it alright in terms of chemcial reaction from the 'plastic' clingwrap? Hahahaa :)

    Anyway, I will still have to try this method one day to see the difference between scald and tangzhong method.


    1. Hi Wendy,
      I didn't use a thermometer. Just stir until lines appear and the texture looks like that of glue. If you are afraid of undesirable chemical reaction between the clingwrap and the hot tangzhong dough, what you can do is you can wait until it's completely cool to touch, then just stir it a little to remove the hardened/dried layer on top, before covering it with clingwrap :)

    2. Hi Ms B,

      Noted, will this method before Yr End :)
      Hope you had enjoy your Singapore recently, rainy season here recently and Xmas decor had started to appear in Orchard Road end Oct'13.



  11. where do you buy your red symbols mat where the dough was placed on? It looks so useful

  12. Replies
    1. The 450g pullman loaf tin is of standard dimension : L (20 cm) x W (11.5cm) x H (11cm).

  13. My dough did not proof well even after 2 hrs. Could it be that I'm not using a bread maker but following the above instructions?

  14. Hi Ms B

    I finally tried this type of Tangzhong (been doing Alex Goh type for few times).

    But, I may have overcooked it on stove.. hahahhaa....
    On small-middle fire, normally how long will it take for the 'lines' to appear? Estimate mins will do. :)

    Reason for saying above, the bread I made isn't soft. Its like doing normal 'straight method' haiz...



    1. Hi Wendy,

      Honestly i can't remember how long I cooked the dough. But have you ever tried making glue by cooking glutinous rice flour or corn flour with water on the stove? That's how the tangzhong dough would turn out to be, a translucent glooiey texture just like glue.

      Did you use milk or whipped cream according to the recipe? How long did you knead the dough, was it by hand or machine? Did your dough rise enough?

    2. Sorry, my question should be "did you use milk AND whipped cream according to the recipe ?" Both are essential for the softness of the bread.

  15. Hi

    Nope, I have not tried making glue by cooking either of the flour mentioned before :)
    I have seen various pictures of what the Tangzhong look like after cook, some seems still watery and some quite thick texture. Mine was slightly thicker than the picture you had posted above,

    I had knead by hand and had added milk enough for the texture to be soft and smooth. At end of kneading, I was happy because the texture and moisture was the best I had even done before. So, I really dont know where went wrong.

    Gluten form also nicer too and it did raises. =_=


    Note: Forgot to get whipping cream, thus, thinking try out as normal bread using this tangzhong method first. Milk qty increases instead for the liquid portion.

    1. Hi Wendy,

      I think to be fair to the recipe, you should try to stick to the original recipe amount, adding both milk and whipped cream cos I think the whipped cream does give extra fluffiness to the bread. The texture and consistency of milk is somewhat different from whipped cream, and the effect may be different if you substitute one for the other. I remember the dough was very very sticky, much stickier than the alex goh dough, partly because of the whipped cream.

      But if you try it the 2nd time, and still find the alex goh recipe better, then maybe it doesn't turn out as well for you, or it's a matter of preference. :)

  16. HI Ms B,

    Sorry. I'm just thinking of trying out this method of Tangzhong 1st without thinking much when I run out of the whipping cream.

    I will go and replenish the cream and try again and let you know again :) I still want to try out this method since everyone is saying how good it is. After few try than I will decide I perfer which one ;)


    1. No need to say sorry lah, my friend. It's very normal for bakers to improvise and use other ingredients when they run out of something. Btw, have you bought your kneading mat, or a bread machine yet ? I can't live without my bread machine when making breads, although I only use it for kneading and nothing else. I don't like to knead with my hands, too sticky. :)

    2. :) I intend to try again this coming Sunday, yesterday busy with changing soil for the pot plants, thus, only made 'cake' which is faster.

      I got a bigger chopping board instead for me to knead the dough, couldn't find a mat that I like thou hahaa...with the deminision design and cheaper price, still looking but for the time being, i'm comfortable with the board.

      No bread machine, I'm still doing kneading by hand, and its real amazing to see and feel the dough form from sticky to soft and moist :P

      Because of this kneading, I have been keeping my nails short.. haiz.. :p


  17. Hi Ms B,
    Your bread made out of whipping cream looks really good! I've been contemplating to make my bread out of whipping cream. To all tangzhong fans, like myself, I tabulated a formula so that you will make exact amount of tangzhong called for in your recipe, no more or no less. Sharing at

  18. Can i cook this in the rice cooker?

    1. I have not tried baking in a rice cooker yet. In principle, yes. But for how long and will it taste good? I don't know.

  19. Hi Miss B...
    Found this recipe when a friend of mine told me she wanted to make Hokkaido Bread.
    She loves bread making ever since I pointed her to your direction for your Sweet Bun Dough post! :D

    Saw this blog that uses Scalded Dough for Japanese Cream Bread (Guess what!?? Recipe from Alex Goh! Magic Bread)
    I'm going to try this recipe...& I will try yours too - just not confident on cooking on tangzhong Xx

    1. Hi Plumleaf,
      I think I have that book from Alex Goh, let me go check it out. Wanna ask you regarding your 17 hour preferment dough, do you have the plain loaf recipe without orange marmalade, what book was it from? I couldn't get it right using instant yeast....


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