Finally, a way to make whole wheat rise! Light, fluffy, moist, and with a crunch. Thank you Tang zhong, but don’t let the title fool you, it only adds 30 seconds to the prep time.
Wikipedia suggests that Tang zhong was invented in the 1990’s by Yvonne Chen, a Japanese bread chef. Basically, you make a bread roux (just less than one part flour for two parts water) stir regularly as you heat to near boil, let it rest, then add it to a sponge, you get spectacular results. Boy was she right, this bread was crazy fluffy and it even had an outer crisp. It doesn’t get much better than this. Vegan Richa suggests adding aquafaba, so I would love to try that and will likely blog about the difference with/without Tang zhong in the future. Also, we put half the recipe in the fridge and baked it ten days later (I added one and a half tablespoons of Whole Wheat flour (the dough becomes too moist), and it tasted pretty good (more yeasty, but still crunchy and chewy) while not making us sick at all.
Hey there, it’s Lisa, here to second Rodney’s notion and share my experience baking these spectacularly fluffy, whole wheat, egg-free, soy free, palm oil free, vegan dinner rolls that actually taste super good! We’ve been playing with wheat dinner roll recipes for months, because we like to cook diabetes friendly recipes for Rodney Sr.
I used the recipe Rodney found for Soft Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls with Tang zhong starter as a guide. There are a few stages of rising, kneading, and rising again, but it is worth it and necessary to achieve the fluffiness.
(Recipe by Vegan Richa at https://www.veganricha.com/2017/02/soft-whole-wheat-dinner-rolls.html, retrieved on 1/8/18)
Estimated Prep time: 2-2 1/2 hours, Cook time: 20-22 min, Total time: 2 ½-3 hours; Yields: 12 Rolls
(* This recipe could also be used to make a loaf of bread, and hot dog/burger buns.)
Helpful Tools: Cast-iron skillet, dough cutting tool, stand mixer.
Tang zhong: ¼ scant cup whole wheat flour (a bit less than ¼ cup) & ½ cup water
Sponge: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup warm water, 2.5 tbsp maple syrup or 1.5 tbsp maple and 1 tbsp sugar), 1 tbsp active yeast
Bread: 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, ¼ tsp almond extract, olive oil, butter/margarine/or vegan butter for brushing, honey, course sea salt. (You will need honey that you’ll mix with olive oil/butter to top bread at end.)
Side Note: You might try 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup whole spelt flour, instead of all whole wheat. Use vegan butter to make this bread vegan. You could use margarine, as some margarine are vegan and are not dairy-based like butter. However, some margarines contain animal products often in the form of lactose or whey. (https://www.thespruce.com/is-margarine-vegan-3376907, retrieved 1/9/18).
1. Start with making Tang zhong starter: Whisk ½ cup water with a little less than ¼ cup flour over medium heat on stove in a small saucepan, until smooth and shiny, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside. About 2-3 minutes.
2. Mix Sponge ingredients in stand mixer (or another bowl so less sticks to the stand mixer bowl) with wooden spoon for 2 minutes until the batter is smooth. Cover with bread cloth and let sit for 1 hour in a warm place until triples in size.
3. While the sponge grows, mix 1 tsp salt with 2 cups whole wheat flour in another bowl (medium). In a different bowl (small), combine 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, and ¼ tsp almond extract (trust me, you won’t taste an obvious extract flavor at all).
4. After the sponge rested for an hour, add the tang zhong mixture to the sponge inside the stand mixer. Gradually incorporate the flour/salt mixture into the stand mixer using setting 2 to start kneading dough.
5. Then add the oil/lemon/extract mixture to the mixer and kneed for an additional 5 minutes. At this point, my dough was getting sticky, so I added 1 tbsp wheat flour. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes. If overly stiff, add water, but if overly sticky, then add wheat flour. Add flour or water only 1 tbsp at a time, if needed.
6. After dough rested, knead for another 5 to 7 minutes. Rest dough again for 15-20 minutes.
7. Using flat dough cutter tool, divide the dough in 12 equal sections. My dough was shaped like a big ball at this point, so I cut it into 4ths, then cut each of the four sections into 3 equal triangles that looked like pieces of pizza.
8. Then, I rolled each section into an oval shape and flattened each oval with my hand. Starting from one end, I rolled each one up like a jelly roll or croissant from those refrigerated packages. At this point, I decided to only roll up half of the 12 pieces of dough, because we were only eating for two, and refrigerated the other half (for up to a week per Vegan Richa, but we tried it 10 days later from fridge and it tasted fine). It is nice to have extra bread dough in the fridge!
9. I placed the rolls seam side down in a mini cast-iron skillet that I sprayed with cooking spray (you could use vegan spray or lightly coat in olive oil). If I was using all 12 rolls, then I would use my large cast-iron skillet.
10. In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat 2 tbsp margarine, butter, or vegan butter for a couple seconds until melted. Remove from microwave, and stir in a splash of olive oil. Brush on top of rolls and sprinkle with oats (or sesame seeds). (You could melt a couple of tablespoons more butter so you have some left at the end that you can optionally add honey to and brush on top of rolls once baked.)
11. Cover the pan with a bread cloth (or clean towel) and let rise for 40 minutes, until the rolls double in size.
12. Pre-heat the oven to 375*F and bake for 22 minutes. Bread loafs will need longer in the oven than rolls to bake through, so I usually go 25-30 minutes.
13. After baked, add a squirt of real honey to oil/butter mixture (or vegan butter) and brush on top of rolls. You may need to melt more butter and add more olive oil. Top with course sea salt to taste. Wait 5 minutes before removing from pan. Let dough rise before putting it in fridge or freezer. Allow refrigerated or frozen dough to reach room temperature before baking (1-2 hours from freezer, 15-30 minutes from fridge).
Note: If you want to make it into a loaf, then I would use half or all the dough. Roll into an oval shape, flatten, and then roll it up like a jelly roll from one end to the other. Keep in mind that you are trying to shape it to fit into the loaf pan and look like a bread loaf at the end. When I make it into a loaf of bread, I use a loaf pan that I coated in butter and then flour (shake off excess flour from pan). Place loaf seam side down, top with mix of melted butter and a splash of olive oil, sprinkle on a healthy amount of oats, push oats into bread a little so they stick better, and then coat with butter a second time to seal the deal. After it’s cooked, it is optional whether you want to add another coat of melted butter, or add some honey to the butter mixture and coat hot bread. If you do, then careful not to brush off the oats. It’s so yummy as a loaf of bread! And, it doesn’t have the high fructose corn syrup found in many store bought wheat breads.