The photo above was taken when my mom served me a breakfast one morning last year when I was visiting her. It is the Japanese style toast, super soft and fluffy. Norwegian bread is not like this at all, I have heard of a Norwegian student who went to Japan and thought the Japanese toast was more like a cake than a bread and they did not like it so much. Maybe this preference for a soft and fluffy type of bread is common in Asia, I see many bloggers in Hong Kong writing about the famous milk bread from Hokkaido and I still remember how popular it became to learn the bread making method using flour paste “Tangzhong – the secret ingredient originated from Japan” in the Chinese community after Yvonne Chen wrote about it in her Chinese bread baking book some years ago. Tagzhong is made by mixing flour and water at the rate 1:5 and heating the mixture up to 65℃. Cool it to room temperature and mix with the ordinary dough. The magic starts and It is as easy as that.
In Japan there is a similar way to bake a soft and fluffy bread called “Yudane 湯種”. It was a man named Mr. Saito, Product Developer of Japanese flour company Okumoto Co., Ltd., who invented this method for an industrial use and it has been protected by a patent owned by Japanese companies. I read the summery of the patent No. 3080368 of the Yudane method and when I compare the Chinese Tagzhong method to the Japanese Yudane method I find some differences but the principle of these two recipes is the same. The heat changes the β-starch in flour into α-starch and it uses the reaction of starch gelatinization which makes the starch sweeter. Bread made by this Yudane method tastes good and as the gelatinization keeps the moisture inside the bread’s softness lasts longer than regular kind of bread.
Although it is a patented method, the chemical reaction of starch gelatinization can take place in ordinary people’s kitchen. Good recipes of baking soft Japanese style bread using Yudane method have been widely available on Internet and I am not the only one who wanted to try it and enjoy Japanese style bread at home. But flours, water and yeast are very different from country to country, I had to adjust the quantities according to the characteristics of the Norwegian ingredients after I tried 2 different recipes written by Japanese (semi-)professional bread bakers, and found the following recipe suits best (for my ingredients). Your ingredients may be different from mine and need more/less liquid than my recipe, but if you have not tried Yudane method before I recommend you to follow this recipe first and see how it goes. Then using this recipe as the base I hope you can develop your own recipe.
This recipe is enough to bake 1 loaf in a 9cm x 22.5cm x 6 cm baking pan.
Volume of the pan 1000 cc
Ingredients of Yudane
Boiling water 50cc
Ingredients of ordinary dough
Skim milk with 0.1% fat 135cc
Dry yeast 3g ( or fresh yeast 7.5g)
Unsalted butter 20g at room temperature
* If you don’t get 0.1% fat milk, use skim milk powder 10g + water 135cc
** I am using flour with protein content of 11%
1. Make Yudane.
Put the flour in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Use a spoon and mix together to make a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. You can make Yudane the day before, too.
2. 45 minutes before you start making bread, take the Yudane out of the fridge and let it sit in the room temperature.
3. Warm up the milk in the microwave to 28-29℃. Add sugar and mix.
I give you a tip. This is handy to remember :
Temperature of flour + Temperature of liquid + Room temperature ÷ 3
and you add to it the temperature increase index according to what you are kneading the dough with. For example I am using a Kitchen Aid standing mixer and it increases the dough temperature about 5 ℃. My flour was at 22℃ + milk 28℃ + room temperature 21℃ ÷ 3 = 23.6
23.6 + 5 = 28.6℃
My dough will be finished at 28.6℃ and it is quite ideal.
If your kitchen is as warm as 30℃ your flour will be also 30℃ (let’s say it has been in your kitchen), you will need cold liquid in order to get the final temperature of 28℃. This is proven quite correct in Japan when they are making a bread in a home bakery machine in summer, they even use ice in order to achieve the ideal temperature as an electric home bakery machine increases the dough temperature as many as 9 degrees.
4. Mix flour and yeast in a bowl and pour the mixture of milk+sugar in. Use a spatula and bring it together. Add Yudane.
4. Knead all together. I am using my Kitchen Aid for 8 minutes at Speed 3. Add butter and mix 2 minutes more. When the dough is shiny, smooth and elastic and if it can stretch thinly without breaking or making holes, it is done.
5. Grease a small plastic container and put the dough in it. Let it proof it in it for 60-70 minutes. (I prefer a small container for the first proof as it seems to me the energy circulates better in a small space and it is easier to keep the warm environment)
6. Take the dough out on a clean surface. Dust with some flour.
Punch it down very softly and put it back in the container. Proof again for 30 minutes.
7. Take it out and divide it into 4 equal balls, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.
8. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin, make an oval shape, the length is about 30cm and the width is same as your baking pan’s width. Take one end of the dough and roll it up. Place the 4 rolls in your prepared baking pan.
9. Put plastic cover and proof again for 45-60 minutes or until the dough fills 90% of the baking pan. Preheat your oven to 200℃
10. Spray some cold water on top and bake it at 200℃ for 20 minutes.
11. When it is done, take it out of the mold immediately.
Cool very well.
This is my Yudane recipe so far, and I am sure it will be evolving. I may find a different kind of method and I may use different kind of ingredients. Bread baking is a profound world and I hope you will enjoy exploring new recipes with me. Thank you!