Japanese Milk Bread
Bubba Durand

For the tangzhong
22 grams bread flour
60 g whole milk
60 g water

For the dough
400 g bread flour
4 T sugar
2 t instant yeast
1 t table salt
1 egg
120 g whole milk
4 T softened butter, cut into pieces

spray oil (like spray avocado oil or Pam)
vegetable shortening (like Crisco) for greasing the pan
1 egg, beaten, for brushing the top of the loaf

Make the tangzhong: In a small heavy pot, whisk flour, milk and water together until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes (it will thicken more as it cools). When itís ready, the spoon will leave tracks on the bottom of the pot. Scrape into a measuring cup and lightly cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix for a few seconds, just until evenly combined. Add egg, milk, tangzhong, and butter. Turn the mixer on low speed and knead until it forms a smooth ball, about 10 minutes. It will be slightly sticky at this point.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Spray the top of the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.

Scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl and weigh it in grams. Each piece in the next step should weigh the total divided by 3. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut dough in 3 equal pieces. Note: Some recipes have you make 2 or 4 of these rolls. I like it made into 3.

Generously grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, using vegetable shortening.

Using a rolling pin, gently roll out one dough ball into a thick oval. Lightly oil the surface you're rolling on if the dough is sticking. You may also want to lightly oil the rolling pin. First roll away from your body, then pull in, until the oval is about 10 inches long.

Fold the bottom of the oval up, then fold the top of the oval down. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll again into a long oval.

Roll the oval up into a fat log and place seam side down and crosswise into the greased pan. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of dough.

Cover and let rest 30 to 60 minutes, until the risen dough is peeking 1 inch over the edge of the pan.
In the meantime, start heating the oven to 350 degrees (or 325 convection).
After the dough has risen, brush the top with beaten egg and bake on the middle shelf of the oven until golden brown and puffed, 35 to 40 minutes. (Internal temp should at least 190 degrees F)

Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour. If cut too soon, the air bubbles trapped in the bread will deflate.

To serve, you can either slice it like a regular loaf of bread, or pull off a section and slice it crosswise like a mini-loaf.

The Johnson Family Cookbook