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
Ingredients for the tangzhong:
25g strong white bread flour
For the dough:
350g strong white bread flour
7g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
125g full fat milk, scalded and cooled
50g softened butter
150g small, ripe black grapes
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.