Recipe adapted from: Two Red Bowls
Ingredients - 11 x 21 cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp bread flour
63mL (1/4 cup) milk
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
350g bread flour
1 tsp salt
63g (1/4 cup) white sugar
63mL (1/4 cup) cream
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1 tbsp milk
1. First, make the tangzhong, which is a cooked mixture of flour and water. Whisk the 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour in a little saucepan until smooth, then heat over medium heat while whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken up; take it off the heat as soon as lines appear while you're stirring.
2. Transfer the tangzhong to a small bowl and set it aside to cool.
3. Microwave the milk until it's just above room temperature (not too hot, or you'll kill the yeast!) then sprinkle the yeast onto the milk and set it aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should start to foam and smell yeasty.
4. Once the tangzhong has cooled, whisk the cream and egg into it.
5. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the tangzhong mixture and stir briefly, then tip the wet mixture over the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt and white sugar).
You can use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together but I just gave it a blast in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
6. Knead the dough (or mix in your stand mixer) until the dough forms a ball. It will be very sticky at this point but there's no need to add more flour, unless you're kneading by hand, in which case just flour the surface of the table and your hands.
7. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, kneading in between. Ensure that the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.
Keep kneading/mixing for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
8. Butter a bowl (I just used the mixing bowl), and place the dough into it. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 - 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. You could leave the dough in the fridge overnight, but I wanted to get to the end bread product ASAP.
9. Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle-like shape.
Fold the rolled out piece of dough into three, and roll that out again.
10. Roll each flat rectangle up...
11. And place each roll into your loaf tin lined with baking paper. The rolls don't have to be perfect, don't worry, the dough will rise even more and any spaces will be filled in.
12. Cover the baking tin with a tea towel and let it rise for another hour until doubled in size. While that's going on, preheat your oven to 175 C (350 F).
13. Mix the egg and milk for your egg wash, then brush it over the top of your risen bread.
14. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes. The top should be shiny and browned, and when you tap the bread it should sound hollow.
15. Let your bread cool a bit, then there are many ways you can enjoy it!
As the loaf is made in sections, you can pull each quarter apart beautifully; or you can always cut the bread up with a knife.
I love to eat this bread by itself, it tastes amazing, but it's also delicious when toasted and slathered with honey or condensed milk.