I am so excited about this bread! It has a beautiful golden crust and an extra fluffy interior, thanks to the Tangzhong method (don’t be scared, it only sounds difficult). Its beautiful braid makes it a very impressive addition to your table that looks way more complicated than it actually is – which I LOVE.
So what is the Tangzhong method? If you’ve ever had Japanese Milk Bread or Hokkaido Milk Bread, then you’re already somewhat familiar with this technique and the super fluffy interior that it creates. It actually originated in China and was later adopted and popularized in Japan. It is a method of bread making that uses a roux as the dough starter, which involves cooking a portion of the flour with milk and/or water before adding it to the remaining ingredients. By doing this, the starches in the flour can absorb more water. Well, why does that matter? Since they retained more water during the baking process, the final result will be moister, fluffier, and will stay softer and fresher longer.
The other thing I love about this bread? It looks completely different every time I make it. I have definitely not perfected my braiding technique, and even though I have watched quite a few six-strand braiding tutorials online when it comes time for me to actually do it, I just wing it and make up a design. You could easily do a standard three-strand braid or create a twisted design instead. If you wanted to bake this as pull-apart rolls, you could do so as well or a sliceable loaf in your bread pan! I love creating recipes that you can easily adapt!
Want to be let in on a little secret? You can use the Tangzhong method on virtually any soft yeasted bread recipe. Just replace a portion of the flour and liquid using the quantities below. Try it and watch your old standbys be transformed!
MILK AND HONEY BRAIDED BREAD
Time: Approx 4 Hours
Servings: 16 slices
- 3 tablespoons (43g) water
- 3 tablespoons (43g) almond milk
- 2 tablespoons (14g) All Purpose-Flour
- 50g lukewarm almond milk
- 6 tablespoons (74g) vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup (85g) honey
- 2 large eggs
- 468g All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon water
- To make the tangzhong: combine the water, almond milk, and flour in a small saucepan. Mix it well before applying heat.
- Place the saucepan over low heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens up and the whisk leaves tracks on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat immediately.
- Combine all of the dough ingredients including the tangzhong and mix and knead them, by hand or stand mixer until you have a soft, smooth dough.
- Allow the dough to rise in a plastic wrap-covered bowl for about 2 hours. It will look puffy.
- Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.
- Divide the dough into pieces, the number dependent on what kind of braid you want to make. Once divided let the pieces rest covered for 10 minutes. I’m not a braiding expert so I sort of make it up as I go but you do you!
- Roll the pieces into ropes, I recommend rolling each piece about 20″ long.* Then cover the ropes and let them rest for 10 more minutes.
- Braid the loaf.
- Gently pick up the braided loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it’s very puffy, about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Whisk together the egg and water. Brush the glaze over the risen loaf.
- Put the baking pan in the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 30-40 minutes and its interior reads at least 190°F. If it’s getting dark too fast, tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.
- *If the dough is resistant to rolling into logs, cover it and let it rest for 10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to relax.