The magic of light, delicious homemade sandwich bread is the Tangzhong method; a type of roux made with either milk and flour (milk bread) or water and flour for a simple sandwich loaf called Shokupan in Japanese. If you’ve not yet tried it, read further and give it a try… don’t get discouraged by the length of the instructions… most of the time is inactive.
- 175 g water
- 35 g flour
Whisk flour and water in a small saucepan until smooth; gently heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to cool.
- 4-5 c flour
- 3 T sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (less if using salted butter)
- 4 T butter, softened
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 lukewarm water
- 2 T butter, melted for finished loaves
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast; make a small well in the middle of flour mixture and stir in 1 1/2 c water. Stir from the inside, just until most of the flour is moistened. Add in the cooled Tangzhong mixture and stir to create a nice, workable dough (use remaining water to get the desired consistency 1 T at a time). Knead 5 to 6 minutes then incorporate the butter by adding one tablespoon at a time. Dough should feel pillowy. Cover and let rest 45 minutes; punch down and let rest an additional 30 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, dividing into 4 equal pieces; shape into ball, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. To shape: gently pat or roll dough piece into a 10 x 5 inch rectangle; fold top 2/3 down and bottom 1/3 up in an envelope fold; from the short side roll tightly and place in a well buttered loaf pan; repeat with remaining dough, placing two pieces in each pan. Cover and let rise for 45- 60 minutes or until the tops are peeking over the tops of the pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, tenting with foil after 20 minutes to prevent tops from over browning.
If you’ve lived in Okinawa, the first bite will bring you back to those amazing Family Mart sandwiches.