#toddlerfood: Japanese Style Milk Bread

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A couple of moms and I were discussing about healthier options for breakfast for our toddlers, and we got to sharing some ways to cook food via the unprocessed way! I thought I might share my favourite recipe for a good milk bread. I make them in buns rather than in a loaf so that I can freeze some bread if the kids cannot finish the bread (fresh homemade bread don’t keep as long as those on the shelf).

Japanese-Style Milk Bread
food&travel magazine, November 2012

Makes 1 x 25cm loaf; Prep 5 mins; Proofing time 1hr 40mins; Cook time: 30mins

For tangzhong starter
1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water

For bread
2.5 cups bread flour plus extra if necessary
2 tsp instant yeast
0.5 cup milk
1 large egg
120g tangzhong starter
50g sugar
0.5 tsp salt
45g butter, cut into small pieces and softened at room temperature

For egg wash
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water

1) To make the tangzhong starter, mix flour and water together in small saucepan and whisk until the flour is completely dissolved.

2) Place saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly. Once it starts to thicken and leaves tracks as you stir the mixture, remove from the heat and set aside till completely cool. Measure out 120g for the bread and place the remainder in a small container. with a piece of plastic wrap pressed into its surface to prevent it from drying out. This paste will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

3) To make the bread, combine the flour and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the milk, egg and tangzhong and knead at low speed until the dough just starts to come together.

4) Add sugar and salt, and knead on medium-high speed for 2 mins. Add butter a little at a time, with the machine running. Knead for about 15 mins, till the dough starts to look smooth and elastic. If the dough seems overly wet (i.e., quite a lot of it sticks to the bowl), add 1-2 tbsp bread flour and knead.

5) The dough is ready when it is smooth (not shiny) and elastic. You should be able to take a piece of it and stretch it to form a thin, translucent membrane before breaking. When it does break, the breaks should form a circle. If you can’t stretch your dough till thin before breaking, knead until you can.

6) Remove the dough from the bowl and lightly flour a clean work surface. Knead and shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let it proof at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 40 mins. Meanwhile, line your loaf tin with baking paper.

7) Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and divide it into 3 or 4 equal portions, depending on the size of your loaf tin.

8) Knead each portion into a ball, then cover them with a damp towel, allowing them to rest for 15 mins.

9) Roll out each portion of the dough with a lightly floured rolling pin to form an oval. Fold one end of the dough into the centre, then take the other end and fold over to meet on top.

10) Flip the dough over so that the folds face downwards and roll out again.

11) Now flip the dough back up and roll it up. Set aside and repeat the rest of the dough.

12) Arrange the dough rolls in the loaf tin and cover with a damp towel. Leave to proof till they double in size. This should take about 40 mins.

13) Preheat oven to 150C. Make egg wash by beating the egg yolk with water, then brush over the surface of the dough. Bake for 30 mins, until risen and golden.

Now just wait for the smell of freshly baked bread to waft through your kitchen! Best taken with a cold slab of butter. YUM! You can also roll them into buns and proof them the same way. What I do is to bake the buns, and then store the cooled buns in airtight containers lined with baking paper and then covered again with baking paper before freezing them. To reheat, thaw the buns out in the fridge and reheat what you want to eat in microwave (place in container, sprinkle some water, cover with lid) for about 10 secs.

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