Soft, fluffy bread rolls made without a bread machine. The secret is tangzhong (water roux), a method I seem to be using more often these days as it gives you soft fluffy bread texture easily at home without any commercial chemicals or flour improvers that you find in store-bought bread.
Tangzhong is simple: you heat a small batch of flour with liquid (water/milk, or even beer) in a saucepan, stir until the mixture has the consistency of hair paste (or you could be scientific and measure the temperature, which should be 65 Celcius). Heating the flour with liquid helps develop the gluten strands in the flour, which is what gives bread its lovely texture and crumb. Add to your usual bread recipe, adjusting for the amount of flour and liquid used.
Here, I used tangzhong to make bread rolls with some mix-ins and toppings that I had on hand. You can use the same recipe with raisins, multigrains, etc.
Tangzhong (water roux) 湯種
- 45g (1/3 cup) bread flour
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water or other liquid (I used milk. You can use beer to get a more rustic and yeasty dough, but the bread will be darker in color.)
- Add in both flour and water in a saucepan.
- Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture has consistency of hair paste/glue paste and becomes slightly translucent (or measure temperature, which should be 65 degrees Celcius).
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Wheatgerm and rye bread with poppy seeds
- 1 batch tangzhong (as above)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
- 45g (3 tablespoons) butter
- 130g (1 cup) bread flour
- 130g (1 cup) cake/all-purpose flour
- 50g (1/2 cup) wheatgerm*
- 50g (1/2 cup) rye flour*
- 50g (1/4 cup) sugar
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon milk powder (optional: enhances the aroma of the bread)
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)
- Milk or beaten egg, for glazing (optional)
* You can replace the wheatgerm and rye flour with 1 cup of other types of flour, such as spelt or just plain flour. Corn flour and other low-gluten or low-protein flours will change the texture of the bread (it will be more grainy, like quickbreads).
- Heat the butter and milk until melted, about 30 seconds in the microwave.
- Pour the butter-milk mixture into a mixing bowl.
- Add 1 cup of the flour, along with the sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix until combined.
- Add the remaining flour and wheatgerm, and mix until the flour is absorbed, and dough becomes sticky. Continue to mix until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Turn dough onto a scrupulously clean, lightly-floured surface, and knead for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You can do this by hand or with a bread hook on a mixer. For best results, use the windowpane test (stretch a small piece of dough in a rectangle as far as it will go without breaking. If the light shines through it like a windowpane, this means that the gluten in the flour has developed sufficiently.)
- Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the dough in a thin layer of oil. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm dry place for two hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and turn out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape the dough as you want: either one large loaf, or smaller rolls. I divided my dough into three round balls, then rolled them out into ovals. I then folded the top and bottom thirds of the oval inwards, to make a rectangle strip, then flipped the dough over so the seam side faces down. Finally, I rolled up the rectangle of dough into a spiral bread roll.
- After shaping the dough, place it on a baking sheet, or in a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 40 minutes to one hour.
- Brush your glaze (milk or eggwash), if using, and add toppings. I used poppy seeds here.
- Bake in a 180 Celcius (350F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and pan, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. If stored in an airtight container in a cool place, it will last 2-3 days depending on the climate and humidity.