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My Tangzhong Roux FAQ

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Antilope's picture
Antilope

My Tangzhong Roux FAQ

I put together this FAQ about using a Tangzhong Roux in yeast breads based on my experiences using the technique.
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--WHAT IS A TANGZHONG ROUX?--
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A Tangzhong Roux (also called a Tangzhong Water Roux or Water Roux) is a flour and water roux that is added to yeast bread recipes. This is done in order to make a loaf of bread that is lighter, that has a more tender crumb and a longer shelf life.
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Bread flour or all-purpose flour is usually used to make the roux. Water is the liquid usually used to make the roux, but milk or a mixture of milk and water can also be used, if desired.
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The flour and water are mixed and heated to 149-F (65C). This gelatinizes the flour and forms an unflavored translucent pudding-like roux. The roux ingredients come from the original recipe amounts. This roux is added to remaining liquids in the yeast bread recipe. The water roux traps and retains moisture during baking. Using this technique is similar to adding pudding to a pudding cake. The final result is a moister, lighter loaf of bread with a more tender crumb and a longer shelf life. These beneficial effects are all the result of the moisture retained by the water roux during baking.
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The Tangzhong roux technique was developed in Asia around 2000. The technique was first mentioned by Yvonne Chen in her book, “Bread Doctor”, published in Taiwan in about 2003. Tangzhong means "soup" in Chinese.
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--WHAT YEAST BREAD RECIPES BENEFIT FROM A TANGZHONG ROUX?--
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The Tangzhong roux technique will work with pretty much any yeast bread recipe, making a lighter, more tender and longer lasting loaf of bread. I've only used the technique for straight dough breads. I haven't used it for sponge breads, etc. But there is no reason it shouldn't work on those, also.
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I've used the Tangzhong roux technique on white bread, sourdough bread, hawaiian bread, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon swirl bread, light wheat bread (part bread flour and part whole wheat flour), rye bread, vienna bread, French bread, hamburger buns, lean breads, rich breads and sweet bread doughs, etc.
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The Tangzhong roux technique will work for most hand kneaded, mixer kneaded and bread machine recipes. I've even used it on 65% hydration, stretch and fold, yeast bread recipes.
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The only type of yeast bread recipe where it didn't seem to have much effect was one that used whole wheat flour to make the water roux for a 100% whole wheat bread. It didn't seem to lighten the loaf very much. However, using 3 Tablespoons (20g) of white flour in the roux of the 100% whole wheat loaf did seem to lighten it. In this case, we are adding 3 Tbsp (20g) of white flour to the recipe, so remove 3 Tbsp (20g) of the whole wheat flour to keep the recipe in balance.
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When I make a light wheat bread (part bread flour and part whole wheat) I take 3 Tbsp (20g) of the roux flour from the white flour. This will lighten the light wheat loaf, don't use whole wheat flour in the roux.
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--HOW DO I USE A TANGZHONG ROUX IN AN EXISTING YEAST BREAD RECIPE?--
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Use 3 level tablespoons (20g) of white flour in 1/2 cup (120g) of water, for either 1-1/2 lb (750g) or 2 lb (1kg) yeast bread loaves. I use bread flour or all-purpose flour in the roux.
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The Tangzhong roux ingredients come from the original recipe amounts. Don't add extra amounts. Measure out the original recipe ingredients and take the Tangzhong roux ingredients from that. If the recipe uses only milk, make the roux using milk.
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I make the roux in a microwave. Mix 3 Tbsp (20g) of flour and 1/2 cup (120g) of water (or milk) in a microwaveable cup. Microwave on High for 25 seconds. Stir well. Microwave 15 seconds more. Stir. The roux temperature should be at about 149 F (65C) and a white translucent pudding should have formed. If not, microwave another 5 seconds and stir well. If necessary, continue microwaving 5 seconds at a time and then stir well, until the white translucent pudding forms. I use a 1000-watt microwave.
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The roux can also be made on the stovetop in a saucepan.
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Be careful to only heat the roux to around 149-F (65C). Five or ten degrees more doesn't hurt. I haven't explored heating the roux higher than that. I'm not sure what higher temperatures would do to its effectiveness. References I have reviewed don't address overheating the roux.
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I mix the hot roux into the remaining recipe liquid ingredients immediately. Mixing well. The recipe liquid will then end up lukewarm. The roux can also be cooled to room temperature first or stored in the fridge, if desired.
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Once you confirm that the recipe liquid is lukewarm, it's then safe to mix in instant yeast or proofed active dry yeast, if desired. Otherwise, follow the original recipe instructions for adding yeast. Just be careful to keep the hot roux away from the yeast.
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After mixing the Tangzhong roux into the remaining recipe liquid ingredients, continue with your original yeast bread recipe just as you always do.
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--HOW MUCH TANGZHONG ROUX SHOULD BE USED IN A YEAST BREAD RECIPE?
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I use 3 level tablespoons (20g) of white flour (bread or all-purpose) in 1/2 cup (120g) of water, for either a 1-1/2 lb (750g) or a 2 lb (1kg) loaf.
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Here is how these quantities are arrived at: (You really don't have to be this exact, unless you want to, this info is just for background info):
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Most Tangzhong roux references say to use 5% of the total recipe flour weight as roux flour. The roux flour is mixed with five times its weight in water. So a loaf using 500 grams of flour would use 25 grams as roux flour (5% the total flour weight) and 125 grams of roux water (5 times 25 grams ). Both of these ingredient amounts are taken from the original recipe ingredients. Extra amounts are not added to the recipe.
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Once again, this is roughly equal to about 3 level Tablespoons (20g) of flour mixed in 1/2 cup (120g) of water. I use this same amount in 1-1/2 lb (750g) and 2 lb (1kg) loaves. It's close enough for the recipes I have tested.

GregS's picture
GregS

Thanks Antilope. This general guidance will encourage me to expand the Tangzhong method into some of my other yeasted recipes. Clear and concise.

GregS

clazar123's picture
clazar123

The purpose behind using a tangzhong is to increase the starchy gel in the dough, which is part of the matrix of a good crumb. I have often successfully used the technique with WW bread using a portion of the WW flour and most/all the liquid. However, WW being what it is, the tangzhong will only be helpful if the basic requirements of WW are adhered to. That is-adequate hydration, some form of dough rest so all the bran can absorb the extra water and kneading to windowpane to fully develop not only the gluten but the starchy gel.

Good write-up!

jkandell's picture
jkandell

"The Tangzhong roux technique was developed in Asia around 2000." I think the method of gelatinizing some (5-25%) of the flour was developed many decades earlier.  I know Auerman wrote about it with Russian rye in 1935, and I think the early soviet bread writers were just codifying pre-soviet methods originally from frisian breads.Lots of  traditional Scandinavian, German, Russian breads use scalded flour. The difference was they didn't use this method with white flour the way Asians do. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I found, over heating the roux mixture reduces hydration to the point of having to replace some of the evaporated water in the recipe.  My tip is to weigh the flour, water, and vessel (dish or pan) before heating and then again once cooled.  Replace any missing weight with water before mixing into dough.

Mini

valereee's picture
valereee

So smart to weigh the pan before and after!  I am totally adding that to my normal procedure when using a tangzhong!  

Antilope's picture
Antilope

it doesn't even boil, so there is no moisture loss. It's done in 45 seconds. In a saucepan on the stove top, yes there can be moisture loss.

valereee's picture
valereee

Will/should my just-mixed, unkneaded/unfermented dough start out feeling/looking slightly drier than normal when I've used a tangzhong?  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  That is why I tend to use it with high hydration doughs, to get some control over the dough.  The dough with tangzhong will behave itself more and be easier to shape.

valereee's picture
valereee

Mini Oven, the no-knead bread is very high hydration.  But I just used a 12% tangshong with my regular recipe, and it mixed up drier than usual.  I was wondering if that meant I should add a bit more water.  

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If the hydration of the water roux stayed the same (same weight as before heating) then yes, the dough will feel dryer.  I would not add more water for this is normal.   Unless you want to raise the overall hydration of the loaf.  (could result in shorter fermenting time and longer baking time)

12% flour in the tangzhong is rather high.  You may find that the finished crumb has not changed at all or gotten heavier.

valereee's picture
valereee

Thanks, Mini Oven!  I didn't add more water, but it was still a bit dry the next morning after fermenting.  It rose okay but didn't get much oven spring.  I'm thinking maybe I boiled off a bit of the water, as I hadn't weighed.  

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I have found that the cell size of a high hydration product made with the tangzhong method is not as large as the same batch made without the roux. As Mini points out, the dough is easier to handle as well but you do make a trade-off to get that benefit.

valereee's picture
valereee

Doc.Dough, I think what you're saying is that the holes in the crumb will be smaller?  

Val <----not clued into the jargon

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Bread is a foam so the elementary units are cells separated by gas-tight sheets of protein. You got it.

The first time I made a batch of 75% hydration dough with 20% of the flour in a roux I was amazed at how much easier it was to handle.  I had never been able to successfully slash a dough that wet, but sure enough it was easy to do.  However, when it came out of the oven the crumb texture looked a lot more like a commercial hamburger bun than a ciabattini.  The taste was fine.

Now I am wondering if the water that boiled off in the making of the roux was enough to alter the dough texture.  I really like Mini's process enhancement to force it back to the right water weight.  I will have to try it again and see what happens (next time I need some hamburger buns).

Thank you (again) Mini!!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Mini says that the process generally callAs for 5%, and notes that 12% is high. What is the reason behind your using 20%?  I am not sure the trade off you noticed is relevant when using 5% of the flour in the roux. 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

@David - Good catch.  I went back to the data sheet and the roux was made with 50g of flour and 250g water (this is the 20%), but the bread was made with half a batch of roux (25g of flour) plus 350g of flour, so the batch had 6.6% of the total flour in the form of roux.  It also had 8% solid fat in the mix so that may have contributed to the tight crumb.

And a batch of 250g water + 50g flour heated for 2:50 on Medium loses ~4g of water to evaporation and 2g to the whisk (and then you determine how well you clean the pan to yield something close to 290g of roux.