It is an example of how international and multidirectional food influences are that a Japanese variant of a quintessential western dish (i.e. bread) is now popular in the west. This is one of the many examples of yoshoku (Japanese-style Western food) on my blog. For Americans, the new feature of this bread is that it includes “tangzhong”, an idea of Chinese origin, which is a bit of a cooked flour paste in the dough to lighten the texture and make the crumb finer.
This version is an adaptation from a recipe in Food52. I made the dough the evening before and had the first rise overnight in the refrigerator.
For the tangzhong
6 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. bread flour
For the rest of the dough
¼ cup whole milk
1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
320 g (2-1/2 cups) bread flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbs. milk powder or sweetened condensed milk (optional)
2 Tbs. butter, softened
For the eggwash
1 Tbs. milk or water
To make the tangzhong, put the water and flour in a small saucepan and whisk them together. Over medium low heat, cook the mixture until it thickens, and then remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.
Warm the milk to ~100 degrees in the microwave. Add the yeast. Stir to dissolve. Wait 5-10 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
In the mixing bowl of a standing mixer, mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, mix together the whipping cream, milk powder (or sweetened condensed milk, if using), egg, and cooled tangzhang. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, and mix with a dough hook until a smooth dough is formed. On low speed, gradually mix in the softened butter.
Put the dough in a doubling container and allow it to rise until doubled, either 1-2 hours on the kitchen counter, or (as I prefer) overnight in the refrigerator.
Coat a 9 x 4 x 4 bread pan with cooking spray.
When the dough is doubled, on a lightly floured surface form it into a cylinder and cut it into 4 pieces. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a long oval. Fold the oven in thirds along the long axis, and then roll it up. Place each piece seam-side down in the bread pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. About 30 minutes before the bread is finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the egg wash by mixing together the egg with the milk or water. With a brush, coat the top of the bread with the egg wash. Bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing it from the pan and allowing it to cool fully on a wire rack.