This is a really, really squishy white bread that is yummy as a breakfast toast or alongside a bowl of hot, winter day soup. It is made with a tangzhong, a flour/milk paste, of sorts. I think tangzhong just might end up being my squishy bread friend. This loaf is an easy, pantry ingredient friendly, hot out of the oven, yummy bread.
½ cup milk
4 teaspoons all purpose flour
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
2½ cups flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (SAF yeast is a common brand)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat. When the milk is just beginning to warm, vigorously whisk in the flour until fully incorporated. Continue to heat over low heat until a paste forms. Set tangzhong aside and let cool until just warm to the touch (not warmer than 110° is best).
When tangzhong has cooled, beat egg into ½ cup milk and then whisk the egg/milk mixture into tangzhong.
Whisk flour and yeast together in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour tangzhong mixture over the flour and mix well. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rest 20 minutes.
Add salt to the dough and knead 1-2 minutes. Continuing to knead, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and knead 1 minute. Add second tablespoon of sugar and knead 1 minute. With a spatula gather the dough into the center of the mixing bowl and then knead for 10 minutes. Add softened butter cut into small chunks. Knead 3-4 minutes or until the butter is evenly incorporated.
I usually end up dusting the countertop with a tablespoon of flour and before turning the dough out of the mixing bowl and giving it a few turns by hand before forming the dough into a ball and rolling into a very lightly oiled bowl. Cover the dough with a towel, place the bowl in a draft free location in your kitchen, and let it rise until doubled. This will take about 1 hour.
Prepare your loaf pan by greasing it lightly with your favorite baking spray or butter. My loaf pan is a standard 8½ x 4½ inches.
When your dough is risen then gently deflate it by folding it over and forming it into a deflated dough ball.
Place dough on very lightly floured countertop, press into a rectangle that is no wider than your loaf pan and only a little longer. Roll the dough into a loaf and place it in your prepared pan. Cover with your towel and return the loaf to its draft free resting place. Let it rise 30 minutes and then start your oven preheating to 375°.
When your loaf has doubled in size (this will take about 1 hour total rise time) then place the loaf in the preheated oven. Close the door and promptly turn the oven down to 350°. Bake bread 30-35 minutes. Check the bread for browning at 25 minutes (preferably WITHOUT opening the oven door. If it is browning too quickly then set aluminum foil over the top of the loaf. Don't be slow about this lest the hot air escapes and jeopardizes the yummy bake of your loaf.
When the loaf has finished its baking time then let it cool 5 minutes on a cooling rack before carefully and oh so gently turning it out of the pan to cool another 30 minutes before slicing it into a hot, squishy, soon to be buttery treat.
Be sure to cut it slowly with a serrated knife. Otherwise the loaf will squish into a dough bowl and won't be as yummy. If you are more disciplined than I am then you really SHOULD wait until it is completely cooled to slice. I never wait that long to dive in.