The Fresh Loaf

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What is a water roux?

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BettyR's picture
BettyR

What is a water roux?

I have seen this posted and I have done a search here and on google but haven't found an explanation that really explains what it is. Any help would be appreciated.

Kent's picture
Kent

Water Roux Starter
March 21, 2007 · 7 Comments

Water Roux Starter is something used in bread making to make bread/buns springy. The springiness is fairly noticeable when you have let the bread/buns cool. Just poke your finger against the bun, you'll see it is springy - causing people young-at-heart to go, "Whee!" *ahem*

To make the Water Roux Starter, you need 1 part flour, 5 parts water. For example, 50g flour, 250g water.

1. Whisk the flour and water that you have decided to use in a bowl until it is whisked well and is free of lumps.
2. Put it on the stove and warm it up for 2-3 minutes at 65C. Be careful not to burn it!
3. Cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.

When using it, make sure it is at room temperature. The Water Roux Starter lasts for 3 days before it goes off.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Basically, it's a method, started somewhile back, in China, where a "roux" is added to a bread recipe. This roux, along with usually, eggs and milk, makes a uniquely soft textured bread, that is supposed to maintain it's softness and freshness for considerably longer than breads without the roux. This roux, is referred to as the water roux "starter". This starter is not yeasted(commercial nor sourdough).


There is a member here, yippee, who has several posts in her blog about the method, and recipes. Do a search here for "yippee" to see her blog.


Here is where I first learned of the method, along with pictures and  a recipe. Try not to let the "boxes" throw you off, it's really pretty understandable:


http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/2009/10/tangzhong-or-water-roux-method.html



 

rts306's picture
rts306

I believe the term 'water roux' in breadmaking was coined by a food blogger, seadragon (cafe of the east and korner cafe) from Australia.  The idea/technique was 'created' by Japanese bakers in the desire to increase water/fluid content in soft enriched breads.  Supposedly, the roux when mixed in the dough will make it accept more fluid and hence the baked goods will be softer and fluffier.


I never take the temperature of my water roux...as long as it looks and stirs like a think paste, it is done.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

I really appreciate the help. I live out in BFE and all we can get out here is dial up. Trying to do research on dial up takes days.


 


MrFrost, thank you so much for the link...

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Very familiar with BFE. I lived in Texas for a while, and worked in the delivery industry. The first place I was sent to was BFE. I cracked up when I first heard that term.


For me, BFE was South Texas, anywhere within 150 miles or so of San Antonio.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

The first time I heard the term was of course from my kids. It took me a while to get them to tell me what it meant. I had to at least try to act shocked but ruined it when I started laughing.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I don't know who started this roux method, someone in Asia I guess.  I have tried it and have very good results.  There are quite a few site on the Internet and this is a popular one that gives you recipes for both sweet and savory Japanese style bread using water roux:


http://cornercafe.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/japanese-style-sweet-bun-dough/

Have fun exploring.

Al

BettyR's picture
BettyR

Thank you althetrainer, I'll check it out.


I used the link that MrFrost posted yesterday and used the recipe there to make some hamburger buns for supper last night. They were beyond excellent. I've got all kinds of ideas for this water roux jogging through my head.


 


Thank you for your help.

CJtheDeuce's picture
CJtheDeuce

I took a mental health day yesterday & baked the recipie fron the link mrfrost provided. It's very good! problem I'm having is not eating it up before I see if it keeps longer. It would be fun to use the square tins they mention, any place in the USA to get them?


Charlie

alexp's picture
alexp

Yes it's called Tangzhong. I have tried it twice recently but my results were not perfect, partly because I don't own a Pullman I think (too crusty on top). I used this method (as posted by Mr Frost earlier):


http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/2009/10/tangzhong-or-water-roux-method.html


I also found that I needed to add around 50g additional water both times I made the recipe as the dough was too dry - perhaps due to the size of my eggs or the flour I used? I'm not sure. I have attached a picture of the crumb from the second attempt, it's nice bread but the crumb isn't as fine or fluffy as I was hoping for. Not sure what's wrong, next I will try Sea Dragon's recipe and see how that goes...



 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

without the pullman pan,  you can still achieve soft crusty top by brushing with butter before you bake and after you bake.  You don't need to steam or do take out your baking stone,  if you use either.  They are not necessary for this type of breads.  


As for the dry crumbs, - could it be your tanzhong is drier?  did you add the butter which is the last ingredient.  Butter will not only soften the dough but make it silky?


You can also try another method to achieve the soft loaf you looking for, similar to water roux starter,  relatively easier,  just use boiling hot water to add to the flour.  see this recipe.


 


 

alexp's picture
alexp

Thanks Jenny.


I did sit the pan on top of my baking stone, next time I will try without it as you suggest, hopefully that will help.


I did add the butter too, maybe my water-roux was too dry but if so then I think that would be due to the flour as I weighed everything quite carefully. I definitely needed extra water both times to form a smooth dough - it was too dry initially.


With the recipe you sent I see that the dough is proved in a very low temperature oven, I'm assuming it will be OK to just leave for longer at room temperature? Plus the recipe calls for milk powder which was not in the first recipe (actual milk was added). I wonder how much of a difference powdered milk vs fresh makes...


Anyway thanks for the recipe, I shall try it soon along with Seadragon's recipe and let you know how it turns out :)


Alex


 


 


 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Alex,  the temperature that you see is in celsius -  for proofing,  I put into my warm oven,  to make it rise faster.  So,  go according to your usual proofing method.  double the size. 


As for milk powder conversion to milk  - I guess it's possible, but you got to adjust the water content.  The recipe that I gave you is already quite a wet dough considering the initial water roux mix, water for the dough and the butter.  all the best.  let us know how it turns out in your next try.

alexp's picture
alexp

I'll try with milk powder first I think, I don't want to skew the recipe before I've even tried it :) I was mainly wondering as I don't really use milk powder for anything else, so if I could get a similar result with fresh milk that would be a little easier. I shall add it to my shopping list.

alexp's picture
alexp

Hi all, here is my attempt using Jenny's recipe. It is definitely better than my last attempt at a water-roux type bread, the loaf was very soft, springy and buttery tasting, almost like a brioche. However I feel it still lacks the lightness of the loaves pictured on her site. The texture seems less fine and more irregular too - normally a welcome thing!


Next I might try a mixture of bread flour and plain flour, I think that was mentioned in the Seadragon recipe. Also I wonder if I should have mixed the dough even more, I don't have an electric mixer. At one hour it was was very relaxed and windowpaned easily though.


The dough doubled but I think it could have gone to 2.5 times easily so it's also possible I just need to rise it more, I didn't have time to prove it any longer yesterday though.


How long do you mix your dough for?


Certainly a very delicious experiment, I will keep trying until I get it.


 


jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Alex - glad that you like the recipe.  Surprised that you said it tasted like Broiche,  as there's no eggs in this recipe.  I usually use hand to mix the dough,  probably about 15 -20 minutes till I feel it is smooth enough.   Did you mention you knead for 1 hour by hand?  That sounds like a long time. 


You may be right about the flour.  I used a local one (Singapore/Malaysian flour) which seems much lighter than Flour from America.  The best type of flour for the soft fluffy type you are looking for,  is to use Japanese flour.  I always thought plain flour has less gluten,  will it have any impact on the softness of the loaf? 


Good luck in your next try...let us know if using plain flour mix might help...I'm interested to know as well.

rts306's picture
rts306

Hi, Alex...I had used seadragon's recipe with success....I am in the US and had gone out of my way to buy Japanese or Korean flours as they supposedly have lower protein than the US flours (esp KA as their APF has protein the level of bread flour)...if you have no source for Asian flours, you can exchange 2 tbsp per cup of your flour with cornstarch.


As for milk powder, I had used coffeemate powder (if you use this) without problems.  Otherwise, you can substitute milk for water but may have to adjust your flour/dry ingredients. 


If you proof longer, the bread would prob be coarser (bigger holes).


Seadragon's recipe uses eggs but it is not as rich as brioche.  I have been using it to make filled breads for my DS's school lunches (very envied by his friends)


Another sites you might want to look at:  angie's recipes, do what I like, lilyng or kitchen capers.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Saw it in a recipe book that was late 1800's and I think actually called a roux.  An the cookbook dealt with Creole cuisine, use of the French "roux" doesn't surprise me.   It was a cracker recipe using graham flour.  And the German's have been playing with "wall paper paste" for quite a while.  Even as a kid, I was making pinatas with cooked cornstarch and water.  Certainly someone had used this grain product from the kitchen on bread before, it is just spread more rapidly with the internet.  Thank Goodness!


Mini

Hallux's picture
Hallux

I notice all of the recipes here are for really light, sweet breads.  I know that's the preferred type of bread in Japan and Taiwan, but would it also make whole wheat or multi-grain breads lighter?  Has anyone tried it?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Theoretically, it should work for most(?) bread formulas. The link in my post above(4th post) is for a 40% ww loaf.


TFL member, Yippee, has several water roux formulas in her blog. Here is one for an all ww loaf:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/reply/12002#comment-form


Search her blog for several water roux recipes:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/blog/engoogoo?page=1


Again, you can make a roux with some of the liquid and flour of just about any recipe. Keep in mind though, the more whole grain involved, the less fluffy the loaf will be. That's just one of the realities of baking with wheat flour. That's not to say an all whole grain loaf will not be acceptably fluffy, because it certainly can be.


The 40% loaf in my earlier link is incrediby fluffy(if recipe is followed faithfully). I was still early in my days of bread baking, so I still had a lot to learn about shaping and proofing, but this was my first try:


jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

This topic appeared on my new contents notification on Dec. 3 although I found that the comments date back to Mar of this year, with the last post from mrfrost in early May. Very strange but nonetheless a very welcomed coincidence as I made some sweet buns using this method for the very first time and I was extremely pleased with the outcome. The dough is rather sticky and with the addition of butter, it comes even more difficult to work with.  I used RB's slap & fold method and I could see instant improvement in the texture of my dough.  I'm not sure if this is the right method to use for this kind of dough but it def. helped to transform my dough into a soft, smooth and pliable ball.I was very pleased with the final product, I ended up making two batched of buns the same day, one with homemade chestunut filling and another with a Japanese red bean paste. and went out and bought more recipe books using this method. 




The wholewheat loaf is on my list of breads to experiment with using the water roux method. 


Judy

CarboKing's picture
CarboKing

Some time back, I bought Alex Goh's Magic Bread book.  This is the same book which jennyloh referred to in her blog.  I made the bread using his basic sweet bread dough and topped it with some butter and sugar just before I baked.  The texture of the bread turns out nice.  Soft and yet lightly chewy. 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Carboking - Alex Goh"s method does yield soft bread, I've also tried the water roux method as described above, this one is not as chewy, but soft too. Hope you like the book, tried a couple of the recipe and was quite pleased with the taste!

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I enjoy baking with this method for soft airy buns but unfortunately can't figure out how to adapt this method to regular recipes.   I've tried using  baker's % according to the recipe book but it varies butI can only depend on the recipe book that is written specifically for this method.  I have recommenoded this book to many friends who are also interested in bread-making but  this book is sold out at present. 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Perhaps you can share your thoughts on what you are trying to adapt, I'm sure many bakers here can help. Starting a new thread can help to get more attention from others who are familiar with this method.

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Hello Jenny,  actually I don't have any particular recipes in mind.  In fact the recipes in 65C Bread Doctor recipe book are are already quite diverse. Here's a pic of the sesame toast bread I made using this method today.  I didn't do a very good job of the shaping  but the bread was soft and rose well even if it looks a little stunted.  It's so light and airy I could easily have eaten the entire loaf.


Happy Easter all . 


Judy

mgbetz's picture
mgbetz

The roux recipes seem to stale at the same rate as other white breads (with milk and butter)  in my Los Angeles CA kitchen.


I've been experimenting with several  65C type/water roux recipes. They've all worked well, we appreciated them all. Even retarded one for 18 hours in the fridge due to a change in plans. Japanese husband liked that version best of all.


Thanks to this forum for introducting me to the slap and fold technique! My KA is used for the initial mix and finished manually with slap & fold.  Changed the Cafeteria Lady Rolls from ho-hum to lovely texture.