Cooking with Alison

Asian Bread Making Technique (Soft Chinese / Japanese Bread)

In Baked Bread, Breads on February 7, 2011 at am

Japanese and Chinese breads are well known and loved because they are deliciously soft and fluffy.  When Yvonne Chen published The 65 C Bread Doctor, she made the water roux method (tang zhong) very popular.  I tried two other highly rated asian bread recipes before attempting this and the water roux method (tang zhong) was, by far, the best.  My family absolutely loved it.  This results in bread very similar to those sold in Hong Kong (Cantonese/Chinese) bakeries.  By changing the way you shape the bread and by adding various ingredients, you can use this as your base for all sorts of buns and breads.  For example, see my instructions for Chinese bakery hot dog buns here. Coming soon: recipes for Chinese bakery pineapple buns and cocktail buns.

Water Roux (Tang Zhong) Method for Making Asian Style Bread

adapted from The 65 C Bread Doctor, by Yvonne Chen (see here)

for the water roux starter

Notes: This is made using bread flour and water in a 1:5 ratio. I do not recommend making a batch larger than the amounts provided below. The starter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and since this step is time consuming, it helps to make the water roux starter in advance. If the starter turns gray in colour, it has gone bad.)

1 cup bread flour (for bread flour substitute, see here)

5 cups water

In a large and heavy bottomed sauce pot, whisk together the bread flour and water. Note: Using a larger pot than necessary will help to speed up this process. Then set up a candy thermometer and over medium low heat, heat up the starter until it reaches 65 C or 149 F. Stir constantly until the starter thickens to the point where it leaves a trail at the bottom of the pot if you draw a line through it using your spoon. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly in contact with the surface of your starter to prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside to allow it to cool to room temperature before using.  Store leftover starter in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Discard when it turns gray in colour. If refrigerated, bring it back to room temperature prior to using in the next step.

for the bread

Note:  The following recipe yields approximately 12 buns depending on the type of buns you’re making.

144 g water roux starter (recipe above)

540 g bread flour (for bread flour substitute, see here)

86 g granulated white sugar

8 g salt

11 g instant dried yeast

86 g eggs (approximately 2 eggs)

59 g whipping cream (or substitute with milk)

65 g milk

49 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 egg, whisked for egg wash

In a large bowl, mix together the bread flour, sugar, salt, and instant dried yeast.  Then mix in the eggs, cream, milk, and water roux starter.  Form it into a ball and transfer it to a generously floured surface.  Knead in the butter.  The dough will be sticky and the kneading process takes a bit of time.

(Note: To save a bit of work, I start by mixing the ingredients in the stand mixer bowl using the paddle attachment. Then I use the dough hook at medium speed for a few minutes before kneading by hand.

Knead the dough until it is smooth and passes the windowpane test (ie. stretch the dough out thinly and when you poke your finger through it, you should be left with a perfect circular hole as opposed to randomly torn dough).  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and allow it to rest at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

* Separate the dough into the number of pieces that you need. Divide it into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Cover loosely with a damp tea towel and allow it to rise for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Then re-shape the balls of dough or add filling as desired and place it onto parchment paper or silpat mat-lined baking sheets or into loaf pans as applicable.  Cover loosely with a damp tea towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. (Note: I used the bake function on my convection oven.) Brush the surface of the dough with a thin layer of the egg wash. Bake the bread until golden on the outside and just cooked through, approximately 12 minutes.  Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.

  1. […] this article: Asian Bread Making Technique (Soft Chinese / Japanese Bread … Posted in General Tags: alison, food, homes-the-way, new-favourite, other-food « Easy BBQ […]

  2. This sounds really interesting. I love soft Chinese bread 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this one, I am just wondering is 11g dried yeast same amont as quick dries yeast? it seems alot compared with normal bread. I am going to try one, after I got the right information> thank you

  4. I made this bread the first time (first time making bread too). The weather is too cold for the yeast to wake up even though I put it under the sun for 2 hours. Then, I put the bowl of dough on top of warm water in a rice cooker, ah-ha, within 30 minutes, it doubled its size. I divided the dough up into 9 and placed in a baking dish. Used the same warming method as above. Baked in the LG SolarDOM oven at 175C and found it too hot too quick (10 minutes). Then, quickly lower the temperature to 160C for another 10 minutes. The bread turned out fabulous. My family loved it. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

  5. Do you need any cultures or bacteria for the starter?

  6. […] Asian Bread Making Technique (Soft Chinese / Japanese Bread) « Cooking with Alison 49 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 1 egg, whisked for egg wash 65 g milk In a large bowl, mix together the bread flour, sugar, salt, and instant dried yeast. Then mix in the eggs, cream, milk, and water roux starter. Form it into a ball and transfer it to a generously floured surface. […]

  7. Hi! Do you where can i order online a copy of Yvonne Chens 65 degrees bread doctor book? Thank you.

  8. Hi Alison,

    Quick question. When do you add the butter in? Thank you!

    • Hi Jenny, I’m sorry it took me so long to write back. The butter is the last thing you knead into the dough before you rest it the first time.

      “In a large bowl, mix together the bread flour, sugar, salt, and instant dried yeast. Then mix in the eggs, cream, milk, and water roux starter. Form it into a ball and transfer it to a generously floured surface. Knead in the butter. “…

      Hope you’ve had good luck with this recipe!
      Alison

  9. Reblogged this on sugarbaby56 and commented:
    Tang Zhong/Water Roux Japanese bread making.

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