Saturday, September 12, 2015

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls
A few weeks ago I got the latest King Arthur Flour catalog. It included a picture and recipe for Japanese Milk Bread Rolls. I've been wanting to try a roux-based recipe for a couple of years and finally determined to do it. It was an easy technique — heating a combo of milk, water, & flour until a roux is formed. After cooling, add the other ingredients and proceed as usual.

The end result was fluffy, slightly sweet, large dinner rolls. My husband thought they tasted similar to King's Hawaiian rolls. They were soft & fluffy but with a dense sturdiness that most uber-soft squishy rolls don't have. From what I've read, this techniques can be used with most bread recipes.

To make this recipe low sodium, I halved both the salt and yeast quantities. I never have whole, liquid milk in the fridge, so I reconstituted powdered dry whole milk that I keep in my freezer. I do have KAF Baker’s Special Dry Milk, but regular, grocery store nonfat dry milk will work just fine. Thanks to the sugar and milk, the recipe makes a sweet roll. If you’d prefer something less sweet, use only 2 tablespoons sugar. I used my bread machine’s knead and rise cycles.

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls
KAF Recipe
(Printable Recipe)
Also referred to as Hokkaido milk bread, these rolls are incredibly soft and airy thanks to a simple technique involving a roux "starter," known as tangzhong. The roux is mixed into the final dough, producing wonderfully tender bread each and every time

Tangzhong (starter)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons whole milk (I used reconstituted whole dry milk)
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I used ½ tsp. salt)
1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used 1½ tsp.)
1/2 cup whole milk (I used reconstituted whole dry milk)
1 large egg
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter

  1. To make the tangzhong: Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
  2. Place the saucepan over low heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the tangzhong to a small mixing bowl or measuring cup and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. To make the dough: Combine the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients, then mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.
  6. Gently deflate the dough, divide it into 8 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball.
  7. Place the rolls into a lightly greased round bun pan. Cover the pan, and let the rolls rest for 40 to 50 minutes, until puffy.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the rolls with milk or egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water), and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until golden brown on top; a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the middle roll should read at least 190°F.
  9. Remove the rolls from the oven. Allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Whole Wheat Rolls
A week later I also made a whole wheat version of the Japanese Milk Bread Rolls. The recipe calls for 2-1/2 cups of flour, and I substituted 1 cup of white whole wheat flour. Next time I make them, I will try 50%. Neither one of us noticed an appreciable difference. They were still quite soft and very tasty.

The rolls are, of course, good as big dinner rolls. But they’re also good for breakfast with some unsalted butter or peanut butter & jam. Or cream cheese & jam. Or as vehicles for all kinds of sliders.

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