These rolls are not just cute, they are the softest, fluffiest bread you can find, and that’s thanks to the ‘tangzhong’ technique. This is credited as being a Japanese method, but became popular with home cooks and in Chinese bakeries after a Chinese woman called Yvonne Chen wrote a book about it. You might hear this kind of bread referred to as hokkaido milk bread, Asian milk bread or shokupan.
Tangzhong is simply about making a roux with some of the flour and water, which is then cooled and added to the dough mixture. This roux essentially locks in the liquid, and helps to give the final bread a higher moisture content. The resulting bread is soft, cloud-like and stays fresher for longer. Making the roux takes just 5 minutes of your time, but completely transforms this bread.
To make the tangzhou paste
- Strong white bread flour 25g, plus extra for dusting
- Water 100ml
To make the dough
- Whole milk 125ml, plus extra for brushing
- Unsalted butter 30g
- Oil for oiling
- Caster or granulated sugar 10g
- Salt 1 tsp
- Large egg 1
- Strong white bread flour 350g
- Fast-action dried yeast 7g
- Egg 1, lightly beaten, for brushing
- Brown food dye
- Black edible pen or black royal icing to decorate
Baking with Kim Joy: Cute and creative bakes to make you smile (Hardie Grant, £18) is out now. Photography by Ellis Parrinder.