Tangzhong Grape Bread

Tangzhong, for anyone not familiar with it, is a Japanese bread-making technique which involves cooking a small quantity of flour and liquid like a roux, then incorporating that into the dough. It’s meant to make the bread softer and last longer.

I’m very much obliged to my friend Steph Clubb for both the technique and the original bun recipe I’ve based this on. It’s a lovely bread, somewhere between a fluffy brioche (but rather less rich) and an old-fashioned milk loaf. 

I had some small, sweet, black grapes left over from making vino cotto and rather than make a traditional Italian focaccia all uovo, I’ve incorporated them into the tangzhong and baked the whole thing as a loaf. 

Rather than slice it, I like to treat it like a pull-apart bread and just tear off the segments. The tang of the grapes is a good counterpoint to charcuterie and cheese: add a salad on the side and that’s lunch sorted. It would also make an excellent picnic loaf.

Tangzhong Grape Bread

  • Servings: makes 1 loaf, about 780g
  • Print

Ingredients for the tangzhong:

25g strong white bread flour

100g milk

For the dough:

350g strong white bread flour

7g fast action yeast

1 tsp salt

125g full fat milk, scalded and cooled

1 egg

50g softened butter

150g small, ripe black grapes

To glaze: 

1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk


First make the tangzhong: place the flour in a small saucepan and gradually mix in the milk. Over a medium heat, cook the paste, whisking constantly until it has thickened. Remove from the heat, scoop the paste into a bowl, cover loosely with clingfilm and set aside to cool. 

Scald the milk and set aside to cool. Line the bottom and sides of a 2lb/900g loaf tin with baking paper.

Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to mix.

Add the egg, butter, milk and tangzhong. Mix on a low speed until it comes together into a dough. Increase to a medium speed for 8-10 minutes. Put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour depending on the heat of your kitchen.

Then gently mix through the grapes, trying to distribute them fairly evenly, and divide the dough into seven pieces (it’s easiest to weigh it). Oil your work surface lightly and shape each piece into a ball.

Place four of the balls along one side of the loaf tin then the remaining three into the gaps on the other side. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for a further hour until proved.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Brush the risen bread with the beaten egg and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, turning halfway if necessary. Keep an eye on it and if it’s browning too fast, cover the top with foil.

When it’s done, cool in the tin for five minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

17 thoughts on “Tangzhong Grape Bread

    • Hi there, cranberries would probably be good. Raisins wouldn’t be my first choice. The pleasure comes from the sweet/tart pop of the grapes in the soft dough. Let me know how you get on!

  1. Sounds delicious and very interesting! The recipe is so detailed that it seems impossible to mess it up! I will for sure give it a try… one question? What is your favorite strong flour brand?

    • Thanks, Silvia, I hope you enjoy it! I like to buy local wherever possible so I try to get flour from mills near me. Of the more widely available flours, I like Doves Farm. Marriages is also reliable (and not far from me, over the border in Essex). Cheers, Linda

  2. I meant to mention this – I bought 100 disposable plastic shower caps from eBay for covering bread dough. They’re so much easier than cling film and reusable. Only cost me a couple of quid.
    Just a wee suggestion if you get fed up with entangling yourself in cling film!

    • Funny you should mention this, Alison, I used to nick the shower caps from hotels before I discovered you could buy them dirt cheap online! They’re actually way better than cling film, being elasticated, because they rise with the bread. Cheers, Linda xx

  3. I’m utterly baffled. I left you a really long comment about this bread, and how intriguing and unique it sounded…but it vanished!
    (Unless you had to censor me because I called “the male judge” of GBBO a derogatory name!)
    I reckon, if he reads this blog (you never know!), it’ll be a Technical in the 2021 season, as he promotes himself as the Bread God.
    It sounds utterly amazing and one I’d really like to try out.
    I had a bit of a bread disaster recently – gooseberry focaccia. I have no idea WHY the author of the recipe decided to bung goosegogs in, as they were vile. We ended up picking them out and feeding them to the chickens!
    But this sounds divine, and so interesting. I shall definitely be having a bash.
    I just hope I’ve got my baking mojo back. I’m having disaster after disaster at the moment.
    But it keeps the chickens happy 🙄
    Thank you for continuing to titillate our tastebuds!

    • Haha, thank you, Alison! No, I didn’t censor you, your earlier comment must have got lost in the aether. I’m glad you like the look of the bread … I can’t imagine it turning up on GBBO’s technical as it’s far too easy! I lament the loss of the days of innocence, when you just had to be a halfway decent cook making honest food … the challenges are getting more and more ludicrous and the programmes more and more unwatchable. Masterchef, ditto. PS I can’t stand Paul Hollywood either, sue me. Lx

  4. 😂😂😂
    I’m relieved I’m not the only one who thinks Mr Hollyb*llocks is an overrated prat!
    I agree with you completely regarding how difficult the challenges have become on cookery competitions. They’re purportedly aimed at “Home Bakers/Cooks”. Which of them regularly makes Ouagadougouan Funeral canapés in their 12×12 kitchen?
    Ridiculous. I wouldn’t mind, but every GBBO tip I try to implement is an unmitigated disaster.
    Give me Hugh Fearnley Whatsit any day of the week. Now, he IS my hero…and his “Fun-Guy” Friend John Wright (who has actually told me I mustn’t forage without a “responsible adult” after eating Hemlock Waterdropwort, thinking it was wild celery; and stuffing my face with wild watercress, little realising the high incidence of liver flukes).
    Every day’s a school day, eh?!

    • You are hilarious and clearly indestructible. I’m a fan of the whole extended River Cottage team. Gill Meller, Pam the Jam, John Wright … class acts, all of them.

    • Thanks, Frank. It’s an interesting technique and it works well. It’s remarkably easy, too. You might like to try Steph’s original recipe for burger buns, which is on her site. I prefer them to brioche buns, which tend to be what you get served a lot on this side of the pond if you order a burger anywhere a bit upmarket. Lxx

Leave a Reply