The AnkarsrumUSA blog turns 5 soon, so we’ve been featuring some of our favorite companies in blog posts this month that will result in a huge giveaway (including a mixer) at the end of May. This one features a company that makes one of the most important ingredients in baking: flour. While high gluten flour might conjure up loaves of hearty crusty bread or chewy pizza crust in your mind, we are utilizing Central Milling’s lovely High Mountain bread flour for a soft fluffy enriched dessert bread.
I personally started buying Central Milling’s grain several years ago. I mill my own flour at home, and wasn’t very happy with the caliber of grain from my original supplier. I happened upon Central Milling’s site after poking around on the internet trying to find a local (to me) supplier in California and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and consistency of their grains. And when finding flour in the stores became impossible a few months ago, I ordered 100 pounds of a couple different flours from them and have also been very happy with the results. Central Milling generously donated a couple of their flours for me to recipe test with, and I especially liked the Organic High Mountain Flour, which has a protein content of 13.5%. It worked out beautifully in this bread. They have also donated a $50 gift certificate to be included in our giveaway. So go check them out, especially if you are still on the hunt for flour! They have a variety of grains and flour blends suitable for all kinds of baking needs.
Now, milk bread. Milk Bread, Japanese Milk Bread, tangzhong, yudane method. What is this fluffy bread style sweeping the baking world right now? Well, it’s actually been traced back to the mid 1800s in Japan. This type of bread is enriched, typically containing butter, eggs, milk and just enough sugar to have a hint of sweetness.
The yudane method, which originated in Japan, begins by combining a portion of bread flour and boiling water (usually a 1:1 ratio by weight) which gelatinizes the starch in the flour, locks moisture in and helps keep the bread softer and last longer. This paste is usually made in advance and allowed to sit for a day before adding to the bread dough. Tangzhong, or water roux, is usually a 1:5 bread flour to water ratio that is cooked together into a paste. This also gelatinizes the starches and yields similar results. This method became more well known when Chinese cookbook author, Yvonne Chen, published 65° C Bread Doctor in 2007, that used tangzhong to make milk bread. This style of bread spread through Asia and made its way over to the USA where we see it everywhere now.
I’m using about a 1:4 bread flour to liquid ratio, by weight. I’ve replaced some of the water with milk, because this is a dessert bread, and I wanted it to be extra enriched and sweet. I did find that when I let my water roux/paste/tangzhong sit overnight, the texture and fluffiness of the bread was slightly improved.
Once the tangzhong is made, you can either let it cool until just slightly warm before using (too hot will kill the yeast and curdle the eggs!) or you can cover it and stash it in your refrigerator for up to a day. Just bring it back to room temperature before using. It gets added in at the beginning with the wet ingredients.
The flour, sugar and salt get added in next:
Milk bread, like several enriched bread recipes, incorporates butter into dough after it has already kneaded for a few minutes. I’ll be honest, I became a little impatient waiting for butter to incorporate into a ball of dough that already had gluten development. Which, by the way, is completely possible with the Ankarsrum. So once the flour was mixed in, I let it knead for only a minute before I began to slowly add softened butter in. And I did not notice a difference in the end result. And it was extremely easy to add in. Just make sure that the butter is room temperature.
And now the real kneading begins. Once all the butter is incorporated, this dough is going to knead for another 18-20 minutes. That might seem excessive, but instead of a tough little ball of overdeveloped dough, you will end up with a soft, slightly tacky dough full of just the right amount of gluten development.
This recipe makes two loaves, so once the first proof or rise is finished, divide the dough in half. A kitchen scale comes in handy for not only weighing out ingredients, but also portioning out dough for uniform loaves.
Each portion of dough is going to be divided into three pieces. These sections will be rolled up into their own little loaves before being placed in the pans.
These will need to be covered with a greased piece of wax or parchment paper to prevent the top of the bread dough from sticking to it.
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. For giveaway details, follow along on the blog. The entry form will be included in the last blog of the month, on the 31st. Happy baking!
Vanilla Orange Milk Bread
Prep Time: 40 minutes (including kneading/shaping time)
Inactive Time: 2-3 hours
Bake Time: 35 minutes
123 g. (1/2 cup) whole milk
120 g. (1/2 cup) water
60 g. (1/2 cup) Central Milling High Mountain flour OR bread flour of choice
3 large eggs, room temperature
20 g. (4 tsp.) vanilla bean paste
246 g. (1 cup) whole milk, room temperature
12 g. (1 Tbsp.) instant dry yeast
630 g. (5 1/4 cups) Central Milling High Mountain flour OR bread flour of choice
152 g. (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
8 g. (1 3/4 tsp.) kosher salt
144 g. (10 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
whole milk, for brushing tops of loaves
230 g. (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
68 g. (1/4 cup) fresh orange juice
zest from 1 medium orange
Whisk together the 123 g. whole milk, water, and 60 g. flour in a small pot. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and a spoon can be run along the bottom of the pot and leave a visible trail in the mixture, approximately 8-10 minutes.
Let the mixture cool down until just slightly warm before proceeding. Alternately, cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Bring back to room temperature before using.
Place cooked paste into the stainless steel mixing bowl with the roller/scraper attachment. Add the eggs, vanilla bean paste, 246 g. milk and yeast. Start out on low speed (12 o’clock) and then gradually bring to high speed (6 o’clock) and fully incorporate paste into other ingredients.
Reduce speed back down to low (12 o’clock) and gradually add in the 630 g. flour, sugar and lastly the salt. Lock the arm in place about 1 inch from the side of the bowl. Once the flour has fully been incorporated, increased the speed to medium low (between 2 and 3 o’clock) and let knead for 1 minute. After one minute, gradually begin adding in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, to the dough with the mixer running.
Once butter is mixed in, knead for 18-20 minutes at the same speed. Once done, the dough will have a glossy sheen, begin to form into a uniform ball in the middle of the mixer and have a very stretchy and elastic consistency.
Wet hands with cold water to prevent sticking to dough and shape into a ball. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, 1 -1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously grease two large (10x5x3 inch) loaf pans.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Place one back in the bowl and cover until ready to shape. Take the other piece and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into an 14×4 inch rectangle. Roll one end towards the middle, and then the other, until you have a little loaf that resembles a scroll.
Turn over and place seam side down at the end of one of the prepared loaf pans, making sure that the top and the bottom of the “scroll” are touching the long side of the loaf pan. Repeat with remaining portions.
Cover with a greased piece of wax or parchment paper and let rise until the dough is just beginning to peak over the top of the loaf pans.
Uncover and gently brush tops with milk. Bake until tops are a deep golden brown color, 30-35 minutes.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then gently turn out loaves onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Once bread has cooled, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over loaves. Let glaze set.
Yield: 2 large loaves