What the heck is Tangzhong?

What the heck is Tangzhong?

The Tangzhong method has its origins in Japan, where it was developed as a technique to create soft and fluffy bread. The term "Tangzhong" translates to "water roux" in Chinese, highlighting the paste's primary ingredients. The method gained popularity in East Asian countries and has since spread to become a common practice in bread baking around the world.


  1. Tangzhong Paste: To create Tangzhong, a mixture of flour and water is cooked over low heat until it forms a thick paste or roux. The typical ratio is around 1 part flour to 5 parts water. This cooking process gelatinizes the starches in the flour, resulting in a structure that can hold more water.

  2. Cooling: Once the Tangzhong reaches a gel-like consistency, it is allowed to cool. This cooling phase is crucial to prevent the high temperature of the Tangzhong from adversely affecting the yeast in the bread dough.

  3. Incorporation into Dough: The cooled Tangzhong paste is then added to the main bread dough ingredients during the mixing or kneading phase. This addition introduces a gel-like structure into the dough, improving its ability to retain moisture.


  1. Hokkaido Milk Bread: One of the most well-known applications of the Tangzhong method is in Hokkaido milk bread. This Japanese-style bread is characterized by its soft, pillowy texture and is often used to make sandwiches, rolls, or buns.

  2. Sweet Breads and Rolls: The Tangzhong method is particularly effective for sweet breads and rolls, enhancing their tenderness and prolonging freshness. This makes it suitable for various pastries, cinnamon rolls, and brioche-like breads.

  3. Gluten-Free Baking: The Tangzhong method has also been adapted for gluten-free baking, where achieving a soft and moist crumb can be challenging. The technique helps improve the texture of gluten-free bread by retaining more moisture.


  1. Soft Texture: The Tangzhong method contributes to a softer and more tender crumb in the finished bread. This is due to the gelatinized starches holding onto water, preventing the bread from drying out.

  2. Extended Freshness: Breads made using the Tangzhong method tend to stay fresh for a longer time. The improved moisture retention helps prevent staleness, making the bread enjoyable for an extended period.

  3. Uniform Crumb: The method often results in a more uniform and fine crumb structure, enhancing the overall quality and appearance of the bread.

In summary, the Tangzhong method has become a popular technique in bread baking, especially for those seeking to achieve a soft and fluffy texture in their bread. Its versatility makes it suitable for various types of bread, and its effectiveness in enhancing moisture retention has contributed to its widespread adoption by home bakers and professional chefs alike.

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