Hokkaido Milk Bread Recipe
Sometimes it's good to go back to the basics, and in the kitchen -at least for me- this means bread and pasta, our daily staples. Despite the scorching Venetian heat, this summer I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and discovered a real passion for baking, especially breads and cookies. Few ingredients to make magic happen: you sift, mix, knead, bake, and see a transformation take place, different every time.
I don't know about you, but for me baking has the same effect that football games have on my husband: it makes me forget about everything else. For that suspended time, it's only me and my kitchen tools. This summer has been very calm, for the first time since I met Vittorio we haven't gone on vacation. On the one hand, of course, I do miss the experience, but on the other I must say I am quite okay about it. Normally we would go to Dublin to visit my family and have another short break somewhere in Italy, but this year, due to the situation, we preferred putting our traveling plans on standby, and are hoping at least to visit my grandmother in October or November. Let's say that in this 2020 we are taking things as they come and have learned to accept the unpredictability of life like never before, and I mean in a positive way.
Anyway, getting back to us, today I am sharing a recipe for Hokkaido milk bread. Despite the Japanese origin, the taste is very similar to the other more familiar milk breads I have eaten, and I love it. The shape of the loaf is the fun part, already divided in buns that you can pull apart easily. I made two loaves, and we tried a bun immediately, plain and still warm, just to savour its fluffiness, then once it cooled Vittorio made himself a panino with prosciutto crudo, the perfect combination of sweet and savoury according to him, while I sliced the second loaf and stored it in the freezer, for my favourite breakfast: toasted bread with jam, honey or butter. Allow me say, delicious!
Hope you like it too and let me know if you try it!
A presto ;-)
HOKKAIDO MILK BREAD
- For the Tang Zhong:
25 gr 0 flour
125 ml water
- For the Hokkaido Milk Bread Loaf
270 g 0 flour
45 g sugar
4 g salt
15 g fresh brewer's yeast
1 free range egg
55 g whole fat milk
95 g Tang Zhong
25 g softened butter
- Tang Zhong:
1. First we prepare the Tang Zhong. Put 25 gr flour and 125 ml water in a small pot and whisk well to eliminate possible lumps. Heat gently whisking continuously until the liquid starts becoming dense (but don't bring to the boil!). It will be ready when moving the wooden spoon you can see the bottom of the pot for a second (or, if you have a kitchen thermometer, when you reach 65°).
When ready, pour in a small bowl, cover, and let cool.
- Milk Bread:
2. In a cup, melt the brewer's yeast with a little bit of warm milk and a teaspoon of sugar.
3. In a big bowl, sift flour, practice a hole in the middle and add the brewer's yeast, the Tang Zhong (weigh it! don't use all that you made!), the sugar, the beaten egg, and -gradually- the milk. Knead with your hands. The dough will be soft and sticky.
4. When the dough is nicely amalgamated, add softened butter and salt and knead again. Move to a flat floured surface, shape a ball, put in a bowl, cover, and let rise for about one hour.
5. After one hour, put the dough onto a floured surface and divide in three equal parts (you can use a weighing scale if you wish). Roll each piece into a rectangle, then roll the rectangle from the short-side. At this point, flatten with your hands and repeat the previous operation, so roll out into a rectangle and roll the dough from the short side again.
6. Butter and flour a loaf tin (or use parchment paper), and put the three pieces of dough one next to the other with the closure downwards. Cover in cling film and let rise another 90/120 minutes (or at least until it doubles in size, it may take less in summer when it's very hot). Remember to always keep the dough far from air streams.
7. Pre-heat oven at 180° and bake for 30 minutes. I suggest to place at the bottom of your oven a small tray with water, which will help the bread stay moist by creating humidity.
8. When ready, let cool and enjoy.
The bread is excellent sliced, toasted and served with either butter and jam or savoury foods like cold cuts and cheese.