I didn’t give it any thought why some bread is softer than others. I really didn’t care. I just figured it had something to do with Asia, maybe the climate, or the flour, or the yeast. I had some delicious buns here in Thailand, and the other countries I traveled to (Vietnam for example). They were much softer, almost like eating Wonder Bread, but with a lot more flavor, and stuffed with tasty stuff like red beans, coconut, delicious creams, and fruits.
Blame it on Tangzhong. And I’m really bad at chemistry, and I’d rather not think of it while I’m eating, I’d just rather enjoy the moment. So in a nutshell, it’s water and flour, heated to 60 c. The flour and water combine into some glutinous mass, the heat sucking up the water, blending it all into a roux. Now that sounds easy, but hold on there big fella, it has to be a certain ratio, remember this is chemistry and chemistry has rules! One part flour, to five parts water, preferably bread flour. Yes, it’s that easy.
OK, chemistry lesson over. Oh yeah, I forgot. You heat the flour water mixture on the stove until it’s thick. I use my microwave, because I’m lazy, or busy, and if I can save a bit of time for my pursuit of laziness or busy work, I’m happy. Actually, I don’t think it matters which way you cook it, the end result is the same.
There are some great recipes out there in web land, just type in Tangzhong recipes and you’ll get several, the most popular are the Japanese Milk Bread (Hokkaido Bread), and the Japanese Style Sweet Buns, filled with all kinds of things, and even coated with a butter cookie like crust. Of course every country has their own type of sweet bread and you can get them in any local bakery or market.
For your recipe you just add a half cup of cold Tangzhong paste to your existing bread recipe, mix it all up and do the normal rise–everything is pretty normal, except for the fact that the bread is a bit softer, and it will keep for an extra 3 or 4 days. Yes, left out on the counter it’s super soft, and I just made some buns so I can tell you it’s the truth. You must trust in chemistry.