There are days that I want to knead to my heart’s content -for the dough to form a thin windowpane that could substitute for glass. This weekend did not contain any of those days. It was more of a throw stuff into a bowl and hope something good comes out weekend.
My family has always been fans of soft, fluffy bread -the kind that you can dig a hole in and sleep without any problem. For me, that kind has always been the harder kind because I can bake out a brick no problemo! (no offense crusty breads) But for reals, my family, we all hold grudges against crusty breads for one reason or another. Mostly because the outside is really hard (and I’ve baked those ‘great’ ones where the golden crust sings with glory as you pull it out) but after a few hours, it’s really easy to hit someone over the head with it and knock them out (not literately btws… but it would probably work -if any of you guys try it, don’t tell me about it and please don’t tell anyone you got the idea from me).
The crusty breads are usually the ones that get the ‘mix and refrigerate’ treatment and for a practical reason too. The combination of the lack of intensive kneading with the long cold fermentation develops the gluten structure so that irregular holes are speckled all around. This really is unfavorable in a soft snacky-type of bread in which the crumb is supposed to be super even and shreddable.
But I really didn’t feel like kneading and spending the night in the kitchen with the scale.
So instead of kneading, I stuck the enriched, soft, milky dough into the refrigerator overnight to let the fragrant layers of flavor to develop and in the morning, I pulled out the puffy, stiff dough out and split it into three pieces. Then, instead of shaping it into a roll once, I did it twice to ensure the even crumb and shreddability. After the dough had risen, I stuck it into the oven where it promptly grew to twice its size again and touched the heating grates. This lead to a bunch of annoyances that you’d probably be better off not knowing. 😉
Anyhow, this loaf ended up 200% better than what I had expected. So fluffy, milky, and flavorful. If you can cut into this hokkaido milk bread’s cold dark heart without a problem and then toast it perfectly, you have done something horribly, horribly wrong. I even had trouble pulling the smaller loaves apart without squishing them because this bread is so dreamily fluffy.
In a saucepan, mix the ingredients for the tangzhong over medium heat until the mixture is at a pudding-like consistency, stirring constantly. Take off the stove and whisk periodically until cooled. Alternatively, you may put it in a bowl, place plastic wrap over it, and stick it in the refrigerator.
For the bread, combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk, and yeast together. Whisk until the yeast dissolves.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
On a floured surface, split the dough into 3 equally sized portions. Roll one into a long rectangle-ish shape and then roll it up from the short end. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Take it and roll it into a rectangle again and roll it up from the short end. Place in a 9 by 5 bread pan.
Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough.
Let the bread rise for 1.5 - 2 hours, or until roughly doubled.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Whisk the egg for the egg wash and brush it onto the bread. Bake for 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. You may need to cover the loaf with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too dark.
Let the bread cool before eating (or not... :P)