Here are some fluffy bread clouds to match the ones rolling in this weekend. See a cloud, bake a cloud! # 168: Hokkaido Milk Bread
Quick check in: how’s week 3 in quarantine going? I know that not everyone reading this is under a mandatory shelter-in-place order like the Bay Area, but there’s some degree of it almost everywhere in the world now.
I’m giving myself permission to relax and not to pressure myself to go above and beyond in all of my hobbies at once. I can’t read every book in the house, watch every show I have bookmarked, bake the millions of recipes on my list, still be social with friends and family over Zoom and stay sane. Meal planning itself has become what feels like a full-time job, since grocery store runs are a rare and exhausting thing now.
The silver lining of this fluffy bread cloud, is that I’m coming to really appreciate my apartment and home life more. I’ve always been guilty of trying to do too much and it resulted in my spending way more time out of the house than in. I never want to take it for granted! Plus, we’re really getting out rent money’s worth now, amirite?
I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for awhile and I’m so glad I finally got around to it! When I first found it, I assumed it would just be an enriched dough, like a brioche, but it has a couple unique elements that make it stand out:
- Tangzhong: This is a really cool technique used attain the fluffy, soft crumb texture. It’s basically a roux – you cook a little water, milk and flour til it thickens like a pudding or pastry cream, and then you mix it in with the rest of the ingredients and proceed like normal with the recipe! It starts gelatinizing the flour early, heating up the starch and giving it super powers (changing it’s structure). This newly structured starch can absorb tons more liquid and keep hold of it through the kneading and proving processes. The result being a softer, more hydrated baked product with a more airy texture due to increase of internal steam created from all that stored liquid. (Shout out to this King Arthur Flour article for the science!)
- Powdered milk: This adds in milkfat without needing to up the flour content to make up for additional liquid. The milkfat gets in the way of gluten formation, so you end up with a softer bread in the end. It also tastes yummy – more milk sugars to caramelize!
The simplest elements, off to transform into a superhero ingredient!
Felt like I was making sausage gravy, but I went with it anyway.
A very short while later, it started to visibly thicken – yay! Keep going til the whisk leaves tracks like when stirring a pudding or curd.
Then get the whole gang together (starring the tangzhong in the top right corner.)
I swear something good will come out of this monstrosity.
Almost there! I want alllllll the flour to be hydrated. None of this loose flour life.
The dough hook worked it’s magic. Flour, gone. Poof!
Ready for a nap! (After all that work to incorporate the raw flour, I had to flour my fingers to transfer it from mixing to proving bowl. Sigh.)
Keeping the lil pizza slices as even as possible.
Tuck the corners under and use gravity to round out the lil buns.
100% felt like I was tucking them into bed. Sleep tight!
So poofy and happy! I did a milk glaze on them instead of an egg wash – felt appropriate for milk bread, ya know?
A scandalous undershot, but wanted to show you it’s golden base.
Break out your favorite butter and jam, these buns deserve only the best! My mom made strawberry jam last week (what, we’re both cooking/baking too much in quarantine? maybe we’re related) and it was the perfect compliment to the soft bun.