Japanese Milk Bread

SLiced Japanese milk bread

True love in the form of soft crumb and tender crust, this bread is a gluten-free treasure. The secret is an ingredient called tangzhong, which roughly translated is "water roux". This is a small amount of flour that's gelatinized by cooking in a mix of water and milk. Added to bread dough it dramatically tenderizes, softens and moistens the finished loaf.
  
Yield:  One, 22-ounce loaf.
Time to make: 45 minutes prep. 2 hours proof. 75 minutes oven dwell.
Tools needed:  Small bowl. 1-quart saucepan. Whisk. Stand mixer with paddle blade and dough hook or large bowl and sturdy spoon. Plastic work station. 8 1/2 inch long X 4 1/4 inch wide X 3 1/2 inch deep baking pan. Measuring cups and spoons, or kitchen scale. Plastic or latex food-handler gloves if available.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (335 grams) "Corona" flour blend (see below)
3 Tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
180 Ml whole milk, warmed to room temperature
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature and cut into small cubes
5/8 cup (160 grams) tangzhong
Oil to grease work station
Oil to grease loaf pan
Flour to dust loaf pan
Whole milk for brushing on the dough

Corona flour blend

1 part (1 cup) sorghum flour
1/2 part (1/2 cup) GF rolled oats
1/2 part (1/2 cup) tapioca starch
1/4 part (1/4 cup) millet flour

To make:

Add all ingredients to a large zip-lock bag and fasten securely. Twist, roll, toss and shake until blended thoroughly. Allow dust to settle before opening bag.

Tanzhong

3 1/2 Tablespoons (45 grams) brown rice flour
120 ml whole milk
120 ml water

To make:

Place water, milk and brown rice flour into the saucepan. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture thickens. This will take about 3 1/2 minutes. Continue whisking for a few seconds after removing from heat. Transfer tangzhong to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Immediately wash saucepan and whisk, otherwise the rice slurry will harden and stick.

Procedure:

1) Make the tangzhong (see left column). Place the following into the bowl of a stand mixer, the flour blend, the sugar, the xanthan gum, the yeast and the salt. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment and stir the dry ingredients until completely blended. Add the egg, the milk and the tangzhong. Mix at medium speed until all are thoroughly wet and no dry ingredients remain at the bottom of the bowl. Stop mixer and allow the dough to rest for 3 minutes. If no stand mixer is available, use a large bowl and mix by hand using a sturdy spoon. 

2) Meanwhile, prepare a baking pan by greasing it well and dusting with flour. Lightly oil a work station and gloves, if you have them, or your hands. Scatter the butter across the dough and run the mixer until all the butter is thoroughly integrated, about 2 minutes. Turn dough out onto work station and knead until the rough edges begin to smooth out. Form the dough into a ball and roll across the work station surface in a circular pattern to create a smooth ball, then roll into a cylinder the approximate size of the baking pan and place into pan. Cover with a towel, and put  in a warm place to rise: About 2 hours at 72 F or 1 hour at 85 F.

3) When dough has doubled in size, heat oven to 350. Brush dough with milk, then place onto a middle oven rack. Bake one hour 15 minutes or until crust is dark tan. Remove to a cooling rack. Allow the bread to remain in the pan until the pan is cool enough to be picked up with bare hands, then turn bread out onto rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

4) Storage: Crust will be softest if bread is stored in a closed plastic bag at room temperature. Otherwise, turn loaf cut-side-down onto clean cutting board and do not cover. Bread will remain fresh for 4 days.