Soft Wheat Bread made with TangZhong 湯種

*edit as of April 9, 2014- You can replace 60 grams of the whole wheat bread flour with buckwheat flour. The resulting bread tastes more grassy or malty, or just buckwheatey, and the bread just won’t rise as much!*

I saw this recipe on King Arthur’s website, and I really wanted to make it with the flour that I got from Great River Milling Company (ordered from Amazon). Around the same time, I saw a website that reminded me of TangZhong, a technique that lots of Chinese bakeries use to get soft, fluffy bread. What’s the science behind tangzhong? Right now, my favorite explanation is from Jenni Fields at Pastry Chef Online, but I’d like to do even more research to be able to get even more details. For now, hers is good enough for me!

This recipe has been highly adapted; but I started with King Arthur’s recipe, so I should give them credit!

A summary of the changes:
-added tangzhong and sourdough starter
-used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil
-used a combination of honey, molasses, and maple syrup (emptied my almost-done bottles of honey and molasses, then supplemented with maple syrup)
-didn’t use milk
-cut the sweetness and upped the salt slightly
-used a “light” whole wheat bread flour; 80% of the bran has been removed, although 100% of the germ has been retained. Here’s the spec sheet: King Arthur’s recipe called for 100% whole wheat flour, so I’m sure you can do that too! 

Soft Wheat Bread
Heavily adapted from King Arthur Flour

Tang Zhong:
-35g whole wheat bread flour
-175 mL water

Sourdough starter
-50 grams 100% hydration unfed or weakly fed sourdough starter OR 25 g whole wheat flour + 25 g water

Rest of the dough
-50g coconut oil
-73g honey, molasses, or maple syrup, or a combination of any of them
-337 grams whole wheat bread flour
-2.5 tsp instant yeast
-1.5 tsp salt 

-65-88 grams water (I used 88 for a dough on the wetter side)

1. Make the tangzhong first:
Whisk the flour and water together, and heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a paste at 65C or 150F. This will only take 1-2 minutes! The water should be completely absorbed by the flour at this point. Cool the tangzhong before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.

2. While the tangzhong is cooking:  Combine the sourdough starter and the rest of the dough ingredients together. Start with 75 grams of water. Mix well. If the dough looks like it already absorbed all the water and leaves stray flour grains behind, add water 1 tsp at a time until all flour has made friends with the water.

3. Add cooled tangzhong to the dough ingredients from step 2.

4. Walk away for 30 minutes; do some dishes and let the flour absorb the moisture from all the components.

5. Knead the dough from 5-7 minutes until it has a homogeneous texture and is smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t be sticking to your hands and should not be falling apart / not sticking together in a cohesive mass. Add flour or water 1 tsp at a time to adjust.

6. Leave covered in a warm spot (~70F) to rise for 1-2 hours, until the dough is puffy. Shape into a log that will fit in your oiled or parchment paper lined 9×5 loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours, or until the bread has domed above the center of the pan by about one inch. When the bread is getting close to doming (say, at the same level as the center of the pan), preheat the oven to 350F.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes OR until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads 190F. If the bread is browning too quickly after 20 minutes, tent it with foil.

8. Remove the bread from the oven when it is done, and turn it onto a wire rack to cool. Don’t slice until it has completely cooled! Eat by itself, or with some Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.


  1. Mac

    Lovely tangzhong bread — yummy~~
    There's a good Chinese baking book "65C 湯種麵包“ by Yvonne C (陳)you might be interested.

  2. meggers616

    thank you for the compliment!
    I have heard of that book- mentioned by a few bloggers before. thanks for the recommendation; maybe i will check it out!! too bad they probably don't have it in the library here…

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