Tangzhong Water Roux Pain au Lait | Perfect Sandwich Bread

Let me show you how to use the tangzhong method to make tangzhong water roux pain au lait, quite possibly the most perfect sandwich bread ever.

Tangzhong Pain au LaitIf you are a fan of soft, springy sandwich bread, I'm pretty sure you can't beat the Tangzhong method. I am by no means an expert, but I've baked four loaves so far, and I still have a portion of the second one (the first is long gone) that I baked on Friday. Today is Tuesday, and the bread, which has been out at room temperature in a gallon-sized zip top bag, is still moist, springy and perfect for making sandwiches. That's four days, people. After four days at room temperature, most--probably all--homemade "Western-style" breads would be good for nothing but making croutons.

(You can go ahead and Jump to recipe if you're not interested in the Very Long Post ahead).

In some ways, I feel I'm late to the Tangzhong (or Tang Zhong as I've sometimes seen it written) method of making bread. In others, I feel a bit Pioneer-ish. Do a Google search for Tangzhong, and you'll get 85,500 results. In the grand scheme of Google, that's not a lot. To put it in perspective, a search for bread yields 218 million hits while a Bieber search results in a whopping 256 million.

To say that Tangzhong is new would be incorrect. Tangzhong, or water roux, is a Japanese technique that was popularized in Asian countries by a Chinese cook book author Yvonne Chen in a book called the 65°C Bread Doctor. The book itself was published in 2007, although the method must certainly have been used in Japan for quite some time. I cannot find any reference to when this method first was used.

Once I read about the method, I knew I wanted to try it. I put it forth on twitter that I was going to give it a go. The supremely talented Stella, of BraveTart, told me that she had used the method, which she learned in a Japanese bakery in Kentucky believe it or not, to develop a very special "kid bread" for her upcoming cookbook.

(And let me just stop here for a moment to reiterate: Stella is writing a cookbook! I can't wait to get my hands on it, either.)

Stella graciously allowed me to play with her formula, and as it baked the whole kitchen smelled like kid bread heaven. And my first taste? Oh, my! Moist, subtly sweet with a hint of milk, wonderful bread positively screaming for butter and jam or peanut butter and jelly.

cross section of Stella's kid bread

Stella's gorgeous "kid bread."

I made Stella's bread twice. You know, just to make sure that I really, really loved it. And yes, I did. I do. But I do like to play as well. So I decided to march off on my own and see how a traditional French sandwich loaf--pain au lait, or milk bread--would fare using the Tangzhong method.

What is Tangzhong?

Tangzhong Pain au LaitTangzhong, or water roux, is a mixture of 1 part flour to 5 parts water, by weight, that you stir and cook until the starches in the flour gelatinize and the mixture thickens. This magically happens at 150°F, or 65°C. After covering and cooling to warm, you simply add this tangzhong into your recipe.

Because the Tangzhong is made up of both flour and water, the two most abundant ingredients in bread making, it is added in place of a portion of the flour and water in your formula, not in addition to. So, how much of the total amount of flour in your formula (bread recipe) should be used in the tangzhong? I found this very helpful post by Rose of Simply a Food Blog. She gives a range of between 5 and 10% of the total weight of the flour (although Shoon Yin's post, referenced below, suggest 11-12%). Then, to get the amount of water, simply multiply the weight of the flour by five. Easy.

How To Do The Math

Let's say your original recipe calls for 10 oz of flour (for easy math purposes) and 7 oz of water and you want to substitute tangzhong for 10% (again, for easy math purposes) of the total weight of the flour:

  • 10 oz x 10% = 1 oz
  • 1 oz x 5 = 5 oz

This leaves you 9 ounces of "loose flour" (10 oz - 1 oz) and 2 ounces of "loose water" (7 oz - 5 oz).

Whisk together the 1 oz of flour and 5 oz of water and cook to 150°F (65ºC), cover and let cool to just warm. Add the cooled tangzhong to your remaining flour and liquid, yeast and salt and continue with your bread recipe.

What is the Purpose of Tangzhong?

When it comes to making soft breads with good keeping properties, what good is water with gelatinized starch in it? Bread is moist because of water content. The more water, the moister the bread. The longer the water stays in the bread, the longer the bread stays moist.

When you cook water and flour together until the starch granules swell up, what you're basically doing is forming a gel in which the starches bind or hold onto the water. And since the starches are all swelled up and dealing with the water, the proteins in the flour, glutenin and gliadin which normally bond to create gluten, are sidelined. So, what you are doing when you add tangzhong to a bread is two things: you're introducing a gel into the dough that will hold onto water far longer than in a standard dough and, even though you're using the same total amount of flour, you're inhibiting some of the gluten from forming, creating a more tender product.

Now, this is not to say that your bread will have less structure. It will just have a protein structure (thank you, gluten) as well as an extra large portion of starch structure (thanks, Tangzhong).

When proteins, gluten in this case, denature (unravel) in the oven and then cool off, they squeeze moisture out and form a sturdy, dry matrix. In bread, this is called the crumb. Crumb is affected by moisture, sugar and fat content as well, but when the moisture wanders off during staling, what is left is the hard protein matrix.  Once starches gelatinize and suck up moisture, which is one of the steps of the baking process: "Gelatinization of starches: 150°F", they don't let go of it. Water checks in, but it doesn't check out. So when the starch matrix sets up upon cooling, part of its very fabric is water. Unlike proteins which set up into a hard web--think loofah--starches set up more like a damp sponge. When you make bread using the Tangzhong method, you're decreasing the amount of loofah structure and increasing the amount of damp sponge structure.

Tangzhong Pain au Lait

How beautiful is that crumb?! Tight enough so nothing leaks through but with enough wee pockets to catch pooled butter when toasted or to hold onto mustard or mayo on a sandwich. Perfect.

I knew I wanted to play with milk bread, because the subtle sweetness and tenderness that milk brings to bread enhances a sandwich without overpowering the flavors of your Sammich Fixins.

Tangzhong Pain au LaitI based my trials on a recipe for wee pain au lait rolls featured in the A Bread A Day archives (blogger and personal chef Elizabeth now blogs at One Hundred Eggs). I applied the necessary Mathematical Calculations, deciding rather randomly that my Tangzhong would contain 7% of the total weight of the flour. I made the Tangzhong with water, substituting it at 1:1 for a portion of the milk. The resulting loaf was quite lovely, but didn't have the milky sweetness I was looking for. Plus, The Beloved and I both felt that it was just a smidge bland.

Tangzhong Pain au Lait

Round one. Quite nice, but I knew I could do better.

For the second round, I used milk for the Tangzhong rather than water, basically figuring, "Why not?" I also upped the salt by just a smidge. That loaf? Nigh on to Perfect, I have to say. Since it contained more milk, it browned a bit better than the Round 1 Loaf. There was the merest hint of crisp crackle in the crust that yielded to the milky goodness and tender crumb I'd been seeking. My perfect sandwich loaf.

Tangzhong Pain au Lait

Round 2: The angels sang. Look at the gorgeous color. Thanks, extra milk. And thanks to both milk and salt for boosting the flavor just enough.

Before I get on with the formula for what to me is just about the Perfect Sammich Loaf, let's talk a bit about how Tangzhong changes your dough so you know what to expect. Also, I found out some other pretty keen information about this technique that I'll share.

Since you're inhibiting some of the gluten from forming, in essence you're working with a dough with an overall lower protein content. And the lower the protein content, the wetter the dough. High protein flour absorbs more water than low protein flour. This stands to reason since more protein means it needs more water to activate the gluten. And remember, we've already made an end run around 5-10% of the gluten by gelatinizing that flour instead. In short, expect your dough to be stickier than standard bread dough.

This type of dough requires a lot more kneading to develop the proteins remaining so your dough stretches the way it needs to. It needs to be kneaded. A lot. Stella's loaf required about one minute of mixing (with the dough hook) on low speed and then a good solid 11-12 minutes of kneading on medium speed. The first pain au lait version I made required 1 minute of mixing (again with the dough hook on low), about 3 minutes of incorporating the butter and then a solid 18 minutes of kneading. To say that my mixer was hot and cranky would be an understatement of epic proportion.

Following a tip from my friend Amy on twitter, for round two I let the dough rest for thirty minutes before adding the butter. Then, I kneaded for about 6 minutes, let the dough rest another twenty and then finished up with about 6 more minutes of kneading. This worked out just fine, and my mixer was slightly mollified.

Stella suggests kneading by hand with an assist from your trusty bench knife or dough scraper, but I am just not brave---or patient enough--for those sorts of shenanigans. If you're feeling spunky, by all means go for it, but know that it could literally take an hour.

Tangzhong Pain au Lait dough

You'll know you've kneaded enough when the dough is crazyily extensible and very smooth.If it's the least bit bumpy looking and/or tears before it forms a windowpane, let it rest a few minutes and then knead a bit more.

Tangzhong Questions and Answers

  • Can you make Tangzhong with other starches?

Yes. I found reference to rice flour tang zhong and corn flour (corn starch) tangzhong here on Samayalarai: Cooking is Divine. I have not tried either method, but since, in the case of the wheat flour, the gluten is taken out of the equation leaving only gelatinized starches, it is my guess that there would be very little difference in the texture of the end products.

  • Can you use Tangzhong in gluten free baking?

Yes. Jeanine asked this question of me the other day. I was able to find a delightful looking  Gluten Free Japanese Milk Bread by Nicole on Gluten Free on a Shoestring through a thread on The Fresh Loaf.

  • Can you use the Tangzhong method with all bread recipes?

I would say a qualified yes to this if a)the properties that Tangzhong brings (longer keeping, soft and springy texture, overall lower gluten) are what you're looking for and b)you realize that you might need to do some tweaking of your formulas to get them to turn out the way you want. For instance, when using other flours that naturally contain less (or no) gluten--rye and oat come to mind--further reducing the gluten by binding up some of your wheat flour in a gel might not give you enough lift. Also, as some mixed flour dough tends to be sticky to begin with, you may end up with soup. So again, I give a qualified yes to this one.

Here's a link to Swathi's (Zesty South Indian Kitchen) Rye Bread made with Tangzhong post. As well, there's a linky at the end to many other folks' Tangzhong method bread posts.

  • Is that 1:5 ratio set in stone?

Most of what I have read about Tangzhong is pretty specific. 1:5 is it. But, Stella's formula calls for a cooked flour starter at a 1:2 ratio: 3oz flour and 6oz water. The resulting water roux has the consistency of mashed potatoes whereas Tangzhong is more akin to pancake batter in texture.

There is always more than one way to skin a cat, and I found reference to several water roux type starters at Shoon Yin's Recipes, all made a bit differently and all with different ratios of flour to water.

I think one of the differences among these methods is the crumb in the final product. While all of these gelatinized starters bind water and prevent a certain amount of gluten formation, the more flour that is in the starter, the less gluten that is available. So, Stella's bread, which binds up 18.46% of the total flour in the formula has a tighter crumb that the bread I made in which 7% of the flour was tied up in the gel. The next test? Making the Tangzhong with Shoon Yin's suggested 11-12% of the flour. I will be sure to update this post with my Findings.

Until then, here is One Fine Loaf of Bread. Enjoy!

Update (yes, already. You're welcome): I made the same bread using 11% of the flour as the base for the Tangzhong, which in this case was 1.9 oz flour and 9.5 oz milk. Neither The Beloved nor I could detect any appreciable difference in the two breads, although perhaps the 11% loaf has very slightly more boing to it than does the 7% loaf. You are free to make either one of course, just subtract the new amounts of flour and milk from a total of 17 oz flour and 12 oz milk.

4.5 from 11 reviews
Tangzhong Water Roux Pain au Lait
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Classic French Pain au Lait, Tangzhongified for longer keeping qualities and general awesome boinginess. Makes a fantastic sandwich. Makes fantastic toast. It's just all around fantastic.
What You Need
For the Tangzhong
  • 6oz whole milk
  • 1.2 oz bread flour
For the Dough
  • All the Tangzhong
  • 6 oz. whole milk
  • 15.8 oz bread flour
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (from a batch of yeast you know is alive and kicking)
  • 1⅛ teaspoon (7 grams) kosher salt (picky, but there you have it)
  • 3.25 oz butter, cut into small pieces and allowed to get very soft
What To Do
For the Tangzhong
  1. Whisk together the flour and milk.
  2. Once there are no lumps remaining, cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has evenly thickened and is nice and smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat and...
For the Bread
  1. pour the 6 oz of milk into the Tangzhong, whisking until smooth. This will lower the temperature so you don't have to wait before continuing.
  2. To your mixing bowl, add all the tangzhong/milk mixture and all the rest of the ingredients except for the butter.
  3. With the dough hook, mix on low speed for one minute, or until the dough just comes together. There might be some loose flour in the bowl, but don't worry about it. It will get incorporated in the next step when you add the butter.
  4. Cover the mixer bowl with a lint-free towel (you can leave the bowl on the mixer) and let rest for 30 minutes. This rest (autolyse) allows some gluten to form before you even start kneading.
  5. After the rest, turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the butter in several additions over the course of about three minutes. The dough will be a wreck--sticky, buttery, messy. Worry not.
  6. Turn the mixer on medium speed and knead for 7 minutes.
  7. Cover the bowl again and let rest for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the towel and knead on medium speed for 7 more minutes.
  9. Test the dough. It should be somewhat tacky, very extensible (you can stretch it out really easily) and smooth. Check the dough with the windowpane test. If you can stretch out a wee piece of the dough until it is taught and translucent like bubble gum, you're good to go.
This next part is Stella's technique:
  1. Put a mug of water in the microwave and heat to boiling, about 2½ minutes.
  2. Scrape the dough out of the mixer bowl, round it so it's nice and smooth on the top (you may have to lightly oil your hands so the dough doesn't stick to you) and put it back in the bowl. Spray with pan spray and cover with a lint-free towel.
  3. Put the covered dough in the warm and moist microwave--leave the mug of water in there--and let double in size, 45 minutes-an hour.
  4. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a clean work surface--no flour. Lightly press the dough into a rough 9" square.
  5. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Then, fold it in half--it will seem an impossible task, but just start at one side and sort of push the dough down in the center of your letter fold and pinch the top and bottom edges together. Keep doing this all the way down the length of your dough. Now you will have a fat cylinder of dough about a foot long.
  6. Roll the dough over (smooth side up) and hold it like a bowed up slinky.
  7. Fit the dough into a pan-sprayed 9"x5" loaf pan so the slinky's ends are down in the bottom of the pan. Then press the dough down a bit to even it out and allow it to sit snugly in the pan.
  8. Heat the mug of water for another minute or so, and spray the top of the loaf with pan spray.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the cozy microwave with its little mug friend.
  10. Go ahead and set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F.
  11. Let the rise until it has not quite doubled in size--it will probably rise about an inch or so above the lip of the loaf pan. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
  12. Once the dough has risen nicely, place in the preheated oven and bake until the loaf is a deep golden brown. It doesn't need any egg wash or anything. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped and the internal temperature will be between 205F and 210F.
  13. Tip the bread out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool at least an hour if you can. If you can't, I'll understand. Your bread will have a better texture if you let it cool first, though. Hot bread sort of turns to mush in your mouth since the starches need to cool down to about 140F to solidify. Cutting too soon can result in smooshed and smooshy bread.
  14. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days. For longer storage, pre-slice, wrap well and freeze. Pull out slices as needed and leave the rest frozen.

If you don't own a good instant read thermometer, I highly recommend picking one up. It reads temperatures accurately and quickly, and I use mine from everything from sugar work to taking internal temps of roasts, cakes and breads.


Tangzhong Pain au Lait

And it really does make excellent toast.

I know that was a Very Ton of information. If you are supremely interested in this subject, do read the articles and check out the sites that I've linked to. And don't hesitate to ask questions of me. If I can answer them, I will. If I can't, I'll do my best to find the answers for you.

Thanks for spending a (large) part of your day with me, and have a lovely day.


  1. says

    Jenni, when you first started talking/tweeting/posting/teasing about this method I knew I had to try it. But I’m going to hold off on this project until I’m in the new kitchen. Like you, Stella is a powerhouse of skill and the two of you leave me absolutely inspired. This is a well-written and researched post with photographs to back it up. Brava!

    • says

      Brooks, I think you’ll love this method! And it takes fairly little time, at least for Stella’s and my bread. Forcing the rise in a warm, moist microwave allows primary to happen in about an hour w/a second rise only taking 30-45 minutes. I will have to try it with a slower rise, maybe even refrigerated for awhile, just to see how the flavors develop, but I really like the mild, milkiness of this for sandwiches. =)

  2. MrsJennyK says

    oooooh nyum nyum nyum…. I can’t wait to try it Jenni! Thanks for taking on the terrible, terrible task of testing and eating all of that bread for us, your beloved fans. I know it was tough on you 😉

  3. says

    Such an informative read! I’ve enjoyed making bread using this method and love how it stays fresh for so long. Now I have a better understanding =) Your bread looks great. Now I know I don’t have to do the fancy folding and shaping (although I love how it looks). Thanks Jenni!

    • says

      I like the fancy folding and shaping, too. It is really pretty, but I wanted to make sure that all my slices would work for sandwiches! Having those smaller “balls” all in the pan together might do something to the crumb, though. I’m thinking it might elongate it as the dough won’t only rise but each ball will press up against the others, forcing themselves higher and higher. I will give the traditional shaping a whirl soon, especially because I have sandwich bread coming out of my ears now, Karen! lol

  4. says

    Amazing post Jenni, you nailed every nuke and corner of Tangzong method. I love this method because it makes even rye bread soft. The loaf is perfect and toast is delicious. I am going to pin it

    • says

      Thank you so much, Swathi! I agree with you–what an amazing (and really easy to do) technique. I can see using it in all sorts of baked goods that I don’t want to have to freeze right away. And the rye bread in your post looked spectacular. I was glad to be able to link to it!

  5. suzyQ says

    Your bread looks like Arnold or Pepperidge Farm white, allowing of course that you used quality ingredients, not the dreck found in commerical products. I think you’ve cracked the “secret code” for mass produced bread.

    • says

      I am really so amazed by the tangzhong method–what fantastic results! I don’t necessarily always want my bread to be soft and pillowy, but for sandwiches, it’s just about perfect. Great way to extend the shelf life a bit without having to resort to, as you put it, dreck. Thanks for stopping in and for your comment, SuzyQ!

  6. says

    I know I’ve seen some of my Asian baker friends posting about this method of bread baking…but thanks for the extended explanation. It sounds perfect for my family…who doesn’t love a moist, homemade sandwich loaf?! Instead of doing the calculating involved in altering a favorite recipe, I think yours will be the first I try!

    PS…thanks for the kind words on my blog. They mean a ton coming from such a marvelous baker like you!

    • says

      I read so many blog posts in doing research for this post, but none really adequately explained to me why the method works. I figured that I would write as if I were my audience, answering all the questions that I would ask. And did ask. Now I have confused myself! lol

      I’m glad you appreciate the explanation. I like to know *how,* but I’m always more interested in *why!* =)

  7. says

    Thank you for posting a very ton about this! I tried this method awhile back and I just fell in love with it. It was our go-to recipe for a long time and is one of my top 5 faves for sure.

    Time to try it again! I will have to try your recipe so I can sink my brain deeper into the method and play with it a little .

  8. says

    Thank you for posting a very ton about this! I tried this method awhile back and I just fell in love with it. It was our go-to recipe for a long time and is one of my top 5 faves for sure.

    Time to try it again! I will have to try your recipe so I can sink my brain deeper into the method and play with it a little .

  9. jessica yee says

    The best and most informative…..thank you so much Jennifer! You certainly made baking interestng and easier for a starter in baking like me, and gaining confidence. Thank you for the hardwork!

  10. Tracee says

    ever tried baking this in a Pullman loaf pan? I have a 2# and a 4#…I assume this one would be a 2#? Just wondering…

  11. says

    Hi Jennifer,
    I am Monica from Indonesia.
    You know how happy I am that I found your post about tangzhong. Before read your post I just knew that there is a method called tangzhong. And I have tried make bread using this method. But I didn’t know why the recipe call out such amount of tangzhong. Thanks to your explanation. It really helps me understand about this method.
    Now I can make my own tangzhong calculation. And I have applied to recipe without tangzhong. And really I feel satisfied about it. The bread came out wonderful, soft and delicious. And the important thing it still soft until next days.
    I have shared this method on my blog and mention the source from pastrychefonline and link back to your website.
    It is now become popular post on my blog. Good thing. Thanks again Jenni.


    • says

      Hooray! I am so glad you found the article helpful! It did its job, too–allowing you to make calculations to use the tangzhong method with any formula you want. I’m so happy! =)

  12. says

    Hi Jenni! Thanks for this great explanation of tangzhong, and the guidelines on using tangzhong in a recipe. Thanks to your tips about % tangzhong and example for converting a recipe to include tangzhong, I made some nice and soft whole wheat bread!

    I am writing a post about it, and linked readers to your site as what I found to be the best explanation of the science being tangzhong (without learning all the Chinese used in Yvonne Chen’s cookbook). Check it out in a few days if you wish!!

    BTW Bravetart/Stella is so cool! I am also one of her fans. Please keep writing!

  13. DonnaP says

    Jenni, two questions: can you make this bread using a starter (levain)? And what about using vital wheat gluten (which I use a lot to decrease carb content in my breads)?
    thanks, I have been intrigued by Tangzhong breads.

    • says

      Hi, Donna! Yes, this method is really intriguing, isn’t it?! I’ve really just begun to scratch the surface, but it’s my understanding that you can use tangzhong in conjunction with starters since you’re only looking at dealing with 5%-10% or so of the weight of the flour. The only issue might be in getting that 1:5 ratio, so you’d have to do the math and see if there’s enough “free” water in the formula or if you might have to steal some from the starter, in which case you might want to scale down the flour in the starter as well to keep the ratio the same. I am not sure about the vital wheat gluten, so I will direct you to The Fresh Loaf. There are a ton of discussions in the forum over there about this method and they get deep into the arcane science of it. Try here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/search/node/tangzhong I think you’ll be able to find your answer there. Thanks so much for stopping in. I appreciate the visit and the comment. =)

  14. Zachary says

    Delicious bread! One note, usually when you autolyse you leave the salt out because it inhibits that initial yeast growth!

    • says

      Good point, Zachary. I generally find that it has minimal impact here, especially when trying to promote a soft, fluffy bread. Either way, this is one fine sammich loaf. Thanks for stopping in and for reading!

  15. aisha says

    Hi I have a question,can we make this bread using starter,because I have so much starter ,and want to use it.I don’t want to use commercial yeast.Is that possible and if yes how much?

    • says

      You should be able to make it using a starter. As a matter of fact, I think I may have answered a similar question just the other day. Okay I found it. I’m just going to paste my response here: Hi, Donna! Yes, this method is really intriguing, isn’t it?! I’ve really just begun to scratch the surface, but it’s my understanding that you can use tangzhong in conjunction with starters since you’re only looking at dealing with 5%-10% or so of the weight of the flour. The only issue might be in getting that 1:5 ratio, so you’d have to do the math and see if there’s enough “free” water in the formula or if you might have to steal some from the starter, in which case you might want to scale down the flour in the starter as well to keep the ratio the same. I am not sure about the vital wheat gluten, so I will direct you to The Fresh Loaf. There are a ton of discussions in the forum over there about this method and they get deep into the arcane science of it. Try here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/search/node/tangzhong I think you’ll be able to find your answer there. Thanks so much for stopping in. I appreciate the visit and the comment. =)

      Hope that helps, Aisha!

      • DonnaP says

        Aisha, this may help: I finally had a weekend free, and tried it out with the starter and with the vital wheat gluten, plus a couple other things to generate a low-carb fluffy bread (my younger son has T1D, so we carb count everything):
        my starter is 100% hydration, and I used http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-beginner-sourdough-sandwich-loaf-recipes-from-the-kitchn-48192 as a basis for my proportions.

        I used 5 oz water and 1 oz mixture of half semolina, half white whole wheat flour for the tangzhong. While that was going, I then weighed out 7 oz water (since I’m using semolina in this I go up on the water a little bit) with 1.5 tsp yeast and mixed. Then I added all the tangzhong, 5 oz bread flour, 2 oz semolina, 4 oz vital wheat gluten 8 oz white whole wheat flour and 1 tbsp sea salt. I mixed it on low in the mixer, then kneaded in the mixer for about 7-8 minutes on 3, then kneaded on the counter until I had a good stretch on the windowpane test (since it’s whole wheat, it doesn’t get as stretchy as white flour). I then put it into a lightly oiled glass bowl and let rise for about 2 hours. Then I cut the dough into 4 pieces and lightly shaped into balls, covered and rested about 10-15 minutes. I then shaped each piece into an oblong, folded in thirds, then folded across the long way. After that, I put them into a large (13″ length) Pullman pan, also lightly oiled, seam side down. I covered the pan with a cloth and let the dough rise about 45-60 minutes, then put the lid on the pan. Oven to 350, and baked about 40 minutes until hollow and internal temp ~200-205.
        Totally fluffy, nice crumb, and the best part is this is 10 g carbohydrates per ounce! And my sons like the bread, even better!!!

  16. Maggie says

    Jenni, I had to let you know that after your post here and then browsing that Fresh Loaf forum you referenced, I decided to use this water roux method for a spelt bread with other whole grains. We all know how diffcult it can be to get boinginess into those types, right?

    I used your exact milk roux method to start with (doubling it for two loaves), and then threw every kind of change-up at it imaginable. I used about 3C white bread flour, 3C spelt flour, a cup of whole wheat flour, and 2 or 3 C soaked wheat berries, plus about a cup of whole flax seeds, and a total of about 5 tsp SAF yeast — and the results were fantastic! Great oven spring, high rise, soft sliceable texture, amazing grainy flavor. Can’t wait to try it again with 100% whole grains.

    This is a fabulous technique to add to my bread repertoire… thanks so much for bringing it to my attention!

    • says

      Fantastic!! It really is the most magical method–I’m so glad you love it. And hooray for The Fresh Loaf folks–they make me feel like I know nothing at all. Such a great resource, Maggie!

  17. krystal says

    I just tried this recipe but I think I did something wrong, the dough was very soupy and I couldn’t get it to hold any shape when forming to put it into the bread pan? Once I got it into the bread pan it rose and was dripping down the sides.

    • says

      Sounds like there was either way too much water or you used a low-protein flour rather than bread flour. Did you weigh all your ingredients? If you can tell me exactly what you did, I can better help you troubleshoot, Krystal. Thanks!

  18. Tabatha says

    I just made this recipe today. AMAZING! I’m a beginner at baking bread, but the instructions were easy enough for me to understand that I did it.

    Lovely lovely bread! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  19. dave says

    great article.
    a few questions:
    i love italian boules and french baguette bread.
    is it possible to do with this method?
    suppose the recipe for the artisan/italian bread asks for a temp of 450
    or higher than the tangzhong bakes at 350 as in this recipe which one to pick?
    is the temp lower due to the gelitanization and therefore cooks faster?
    also i notice that the bread dosent seem scored which is done with italian breads and boules and rolls.
    is that not recommended for breads with this method?
    and lastly, for the sake of experimentation with texture, flavor and color would it be ok to use both water and milk or should it allways be water or milk
    i appreciate all your help.

    • says

      Great questions all, Dave.

      Yes, you can use this method with almost any sort of bread, even gluten free. Just subtract the amounts you’re using in the tangzhong from the total amounts of flour and liquid. Starches gelatinize at relatively low temperatures (about 155F) so any baking temperature from 325 on up will give you the benefits of tangzhong. I baked this at a lower temp just because I wanted a soft sandwich bread with a relatively soft crust. Baking hot should not be an issue, I wouldn’t think. As to the scoring, you can shape and score your dough however you want. The reason I didn’t score mine was because I wanted a sandwich loaf. I would absolutely encourage you to use a mixture of both water and milk in any proportions to play with color. I would think the more milk you use, the darker the crust. I don’t think there is any chemical reason not to mix water and milk in the tangzhong. I hope this helps. And if you want to get super deep into Tangzhong, check out the tangzhong/water roux threads in the forums over on The Fresh Loaf. I am sure most of those folks have more experience than I do w/this method. =) http://www.thefreshloaf.com/search/node/tangzhong

  20. Kelli says

    I wanted to thank you so much for posting this recipe! It’s our favorite! My husbands request when I started making bread is that he would like it to be like store bought. At first I was insulted, but what he meant is that he wanted a light fluffy bread. This has met all expectations! I have changed it up a bit. I use this method for everything, from honey wheat to foccia, we love it! It comes out perfect everytime. I get requests for bringing bread all the time. Thanks again for posting

    • says

      I am so thrilled you like it, Kelli! I use the method for other types of breads myself. I’m so glad you’re adapt it to your needs! Continue to enjoy soft, springy bread, and have a very Happy New Year!

    • says

      Good question, Rosalind. Yes you can, but reduce the amount by about 25%. If you have unionized salt, that would be even better, or use a fine sea salt. There are a couple of brands available at the “refular” grocery stores here right by the table salt that you can get.

  21. Cat says

    Thank you for sharing the method of mixing the bread ingredients. Tried a couple of recipes but none was as thorough as yours thus leading to sticky dough and failed bakes. haha. Thank you for that and now I get to eat delicious bread fresh from my oven.

    • says

      I am so glad, Cat! I wanted to make sure to add enough detail so that folks could use the Tangzhong method with any of their favorite bread recipes. I must say, this white bread recipe is hard to beat for good, old-fashioned white sandwich bread!

  22. Caleb says

    Excellent recipe. I’ve been making sandwich bread but wanted a reliable tangzhong recipe.

    I don’t have an electric mixer so I will attempt to do this by hand. Any adjustments to the kneading times? Anything I should be aware of when making this by hand? Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Oil up your hands frequently since this dough is really, really sticky. Oil your kneading surface too. I’d give the dough a good 30 min rest before kneading, go for 5 minutes, let it rest again and go 5 more. By hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if actual hands on kneading takes about 20 minutes. You could probably cut down on this some by kneading for a total of 10 or so and then resting it in the fridge overnight. Shape from cold but then let come up to room temp and then double before baking. I hope that helps. I’ve never tried to do Tangzhong by hand because of the stickiness factor, but a good autolyse and an overnight in the fridge should help you out. Let me know how it goes!

      • Caleb says

        Thanks for your reply Jennifer!

        I actually made this twice before you replied. The dough really wasn’t that sticky and I didn’t need to oil my hands or anything… Sticky dough would be like some of the super-hydrated no-knead doughs. Am I doing anything wrong? I didn’t do the overnight fridge rest, but I can try that the next time I do it.

        The last two times the bread turned out really good… but I dunno, it wasn’t anything like those fluffy things sold in bakeries here in Hong Kong. Just wondering, will the recipe work if I replace the milk with water and butter with olive oil?


        • says

          I’ve never had the “real deal” in Hong Kong, Caleb, so I honestly don’t know how these loaves stack up against them. Yes, you can absolutely sub water and oil for the milk and butter. It’s certainly worth a try! Wish I could be more helpful, but since I’ve not had the type of bread you’re trying to replicate, I’m really not sure. You may want to check on the forums at thefreshloaf.com. Those folks are extremely helpful. Good luck!

  23. says

    Awesome post! Will this work the same when baked in a 9 inch by 5 inch pullman pan. Your recipe says in step 11 ‘Let the rise until it has not quite doubled in size–it will probably rise about an inch or so above the lip of the loaf pan. This will take about 30-45 minutes.’ In the pullman pan will it not overflow?

    Hoping you will guide here! Thanks!

    • says

      Hey, Farha. I don’t bake in closed pans, but if you are used to baking in a Pullman pan, use the amount of dough that you would for your regular Pullman loaves. What I would do is adapt your tried and true Pullman recipe to the Tangzhong method–the post shows you how–and that way you’ll be working with a known quantity of dough. If you want to use my recipe as written, you will have to go through a bit of trial and error. Hope that helps!

  24. cristina says

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for the message you sent me, I will definitely try this method. I think i will be hanging around here in your website. Reading and trying some of your technique in making breads and baking cakes. I love how you explain things and site example. Keep up the good work. My God bless you always.

    Cristina from Maldives

  25. Carol says

    This is a great explanation of tangzhong. Thank you. Now I have more questions. I started using this method a few years ago when trying (and failing) to get those soft, pillowy cinnamon rolls from my kitchen. The success of this technique made my day! However, I wanted more. Of course . I tried a butter and flour roux and other fats as well, And I now like the fat better than water and milk. So now I don’t know how that goes with the explaination. The amount of water in butter isn’t enough and there isn’t any water in oil. Do you know? Thanks

    • says

      Very interesting about the fat+flour! I’d love to see the formula you’re using! An off the cuff thought: the fat would coat that amount of flour and tke all of that gluten out of the equation, leaving nothing but “tenderness” in the roux.


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