Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tangzhong Rye Bread #BreadBakers

This rounded loaf with rye and wholemeal wheat flour is perfect for toasting, smearing with butter and dipping in hot soup. It also makes the best toast soldiers to accompany a soft-boiled egg or to spread with jam.

Living = Learning
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson’s ode to London, “When a man is tired of food, he is tired of life.” I never cease to be amazed that the more I know about food, the more I realize there is to learn. New techniques, new methods, new ingredients, even new combinations of old ingredients are a constant source of excitement for me, from learning how to debone a chicken while keeping it whole (Thanks, Dai!) to attempting a bread challenge from the Great British Bake Off to buying unfamiliar produce at the farmers’ market and using the Google to find out what it’s called, to exploring the recipes of my host country, this food thing is so much more than a hobby. It’s an intellectual and cross-cultural exercise that just happens to keep the family fed as well.

Fortune favors the brave
Sometimes I learn a thing but it takes me a while to put it to use. I give you the tangzhong or water roux method of bread dough making, for instance. Although it’s been used in Japan, whence it comes, for ages, I first heard about it when my friend, fellow Bread Baker and pastry chef Jenni Field wrote a great explanatory post on her wonderful blog, Pastry Chef Online last August, but it took this month’s rye bread challenge from Anshie of Spice Roots to get me going on it. 

Rye is notorious for its low gluten content so I decided that perhaps starting with a wholemeal wheat bread flour tangzhong for extra body would be helpful. Of course, since I am almost foolhardy in my disregard of normal baking rules, even in the face of no experience, I decided that I would make my tangzhong with beer and water instead of just water, as is typically done. A rye beer, natch. 

It was a pain to knead since rye dough, even with wholemeal flour added, is so sticky but overall, I was very pleased with how it turned out. I baked it on the same day as I made this lovely chickpea veggie soup for dinner and it was the perfect accompaniment.

If you’ve been meaning to challenge yourself to bake with rye flour, make sure to scroll down after the recipe to see the list of links to all the rye creations we have for you this month. Many thanks to our host, Anshie of Spice Roots, for this “out of my comfort zone” challenge!

Oh, and one last thing, let me share my earworm with you. The whole while I was making this bread, I kept singing in my head:

Ev'rybody have fun tonight
Ev'rybody have fun tonight
Ev'rybody Tang Zhong tonight
Ev'rybody have fun tonight
Ev'rybody Tang Zhong tonight

No need to thank me. You are welcome!


For the tangzhong
1/3 cup or 45g wholemeal bread flour
1/2 cup or 120ml Battersea Rye Beer (or other beer of your choice or replace with more water)
1/2 cup or 120ml water

For Dough
Scant 2/3 cup or 140ml milk
2 tablespoons Battersea Rye Beer
250g wholemeal bread flour
1 1/4 cups or 125g rye flour (plus possibly more for kneading)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 oz or 7g Rapid Rise yeast (I used one packet of Fleischmann’s.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 1/8 cup or 100g tangzhong (which coincidentally is 100ml, if that helps you measure by volume)
1/4 cup or 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Olive oil (for greasing the proofing vessel)

First make your tangzhong by mixing the flour with the water and beer in a small pot. Whisk till all the lumps are gone.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent sticking or burning. As the mixture heats, it gets very thick. Keep stirring and cooking until the spoon or whisk handle leaves furrows in the tangzhong. If you are a thermometer-using type (and I strongly encourage you to become one, if you aren’t already) you want the tangzhong to reach 150°F or 65°C.

Remove from the heat and transfer your tangzhong into another vessel to allow it to cool. I measured out the amount for my bread at this point and put the tangzhong in two bowls. The tangzhong is enough for a little more than two loaves though, so you can leave it all in one bowl if you are doubling this recipe. I just figured it would cool faster if it were separated.

Once the tangzhong has cooled to room temperature, you can proceed with the bread dough. (If you refrigerate it, let it return to room temperature before continuing.)

Slightly warm your milk and beer together in a small pot or in a measuring cup in the microwave.

Whisk your flours, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add in the warm milk/beer and the tangzhong.

Mix with the bread hook until all the ingredients come together and form a dough.

Add the butter and knead until the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic.

I found mine too sticky to knead effectively so after about 10 minutes, I took it out of the mixer and kneaded by hand for at least another 10 minutes, sprinkling on just the tiniest bit more rye flour as needed.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and cover with plastic wrap or the lid. Leave in a warm place until doubled. Mine took about one hour.


Punch the dough down and form it into a round loaf. Place it on parchment on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with a little more rye flour.

Put it inside a clean, new garbage bag and leave to rise until doubled again. This took about another hour so set your timer for 45 minutes and preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C when it goes off.

When the rising time is finished, bake the loaf in your preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until golden.

Ready to bake!


Need a rye bread or cracker recipe? This is your Bread Bakers month!


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.  

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