Recipe: Perfectly fluffy milk bread

1. Make the tangzhong: Weigh out the ingredients in a small saucepan, starting with flour and ending with milk. Whisk thoroughly to remove lumps.
2. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly. The minute you are able to draw lines on the bottom of the pan with the whisk, take the pan off the heat, continue whisking until smooth, then scrape the tangzhong into a bowl. It should have the consistency of pudding. Let it cool to room temperature before using.
3. Make the dough: Weigh the flour, milk powder, sugar and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Attach the dough hook to the machine. Whisk to combine. Pour in the instant yeast.
4. Combine the tangzhong, whole milk, egg and melted unsalted butter in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour these wet ingredients into the bowl.
5. Turn the machine on, setting the speed at medium low. I use level 2 on my KitchenAid Artisan mixer. Mix two to three minutes or until the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated. Stop the machine and use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl, to make sure all the ingredients have been incorporated.
6. Turn the machine on again to level 2 and knead for five minutes. Stop the machine and, using a silicone spatula, scrape the dough off the hook and flip it over in the bowl. This is to make sure all parts of the dough are being kneaded. Knead another five minutes on level 2. Stop the machine, scrape the dough off the hook, flip it over and knead five more minutes. Repeat in five-minute increments until your dough is smooth. Depending on the flour you use, you might need to knead for 15 to 25 minutes. If in doubt, give it another five minutes. The dough will be sticky, but it will also be stretchy.
7. Oil a large mixing bowl and plop the dough into it, turning it over to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let it rise for 60 minutes. At the end of the first rise, gently press the dough down to deflate it.
8. To make buns: Grease a 20cm round cake tin. Weigh the dough and divide it into eight portions.
9. Take each portion of dough and spread it into a rough circle. Fold the edges into the middle and gather them to form a ball. Place the balls in the tin – one in the middle, surrounded by seven others. They will be snug. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise a second time, for 45 minutes.
10. About 15 minutes before the 45 minutes are up, set an oven rack on the lowest or second lowest shelf. Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. When the 45 minutes are up, gently brush the dough with the milk and place the cake tin in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the tin for five minutes. Slide a butter knife or offset spatula around the circumference of the pan to gently loosen the bread. Unmould carefully and let it cool completely on a metal rack before serving.
11. To make a loaf: Grease a 22cm by 13cm loaf pan. Divide the dough into four equal portions. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin that has been floured, roll out one portion into an elongated oval that looks like naan bread. Fold the bottom towards the middle and fold the top over, like an envelope. Turn it 90 degrees and roll out into an elongated oval. Starting at the top, roll the dough as tightly as you can. Place it on one end of the loaf pan. Repeat with the second portion of dough, placing it at the other end of the pan. Repeat with the two other portions, and fill in the middle of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes. Repeat step 10. The baking time will be the same.

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