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How to Make Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns with Seeds.

Last updated on June 6th, 2024 at 08:50 am

A twist on a classic recipe, these whole wheat tangzhong milk buns are a perfect blend of softness and wholesome goodness, thanks to the famous Japanese technique that keeps the bread super moist and fluffy. Made with whole wheat flour and filled with an assortment of seeds, these buns offer a nutty crunch that complements their sweet, mild flavour. Whether you’re new to bread-making or a seasoned baker, this recipe is a must-try for its simplicity and delicious results.

A bowl of freshly baked whole wheat Tangzhong milk buns with seeds

What Is Tangzhong and Why Use It?

The tangzhong method, also known as the water roux method, originated in Japan and was popularized by Taiwanese baker Yvonne Chen in her book 65°C Bread Doctor. The technique involves cooking a portion of the flour and water (or milk) into a thick slurry or paste before incorporating it into the dough. This pre-gelatinized mixture, called Tangzhong, helps to lock in moisture, resulting in a more hydrated dough without being sticky.

When I first tried the Tangzhong method, I was skeptical. I wasn’t convinced that such a simple step could make a big difference in the bread, but I was hooked after a few attempts. The bread was noticeably softer and stayed that way for days. I even found that my kids preferred the tangzhong bread for their sandwiches because of its pillowy texture.

Another popular and similar method is the yudane method. If you are interested in learning more, check out my sourdough burger buns recipe for a detailed guide.

A tip from my experience: let the tangzhong cool completely before adding it to your dough. If it’s too hot, it can affect the yeast and lead to uneven fermentation.

Benefits of the Tangzhong Method:

  1. Softer Bread: The Tangzhong method creates a more hydrated dough, which leads to softer and more tender bread. The gelatinized starches can hold more moisture, translating to a softer crumb.
  2. Longer Freshness: Bread made with Tangzhong retains moisture better, meaning it stays fresher longer. This is especially useful if you’re making bread you want to keep for several days.
  3. Better Structure and Rise: The pre-gelatinized starches help to strengthen the dough, resulting in a better oven spring and a more stable crumb structure. Your bread will rise higher and be less likely to collapse.
  4. Improved Flavor: By incorporating more water into the dough, the yeast has more time to work, leading to a more developed flavour. The slight sweetness of the Tangzhong also enhances the overall taste of the bread.
  5. Versatility: The Tangzhong method isn’t just for one type of bread. It can be used in various recipes, from sandwich loaves and dinner rolls to brioche and even sweet buns.

What You’ll Need for Your Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns:

Ingredients

  • Bread flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Milk powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Instant Yeast
  • Butter
  • Seed Mix (Sunflower Seeds, Yellow Flax Seeds, Black Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds)
  • Tangzhong
Ingredients for the whole wheat Tangzhong milk buns with seeds

Each ingredient in your whole wheat tangzhong milk buns recipe plays a specific role, contributing to the overall success of the final product. Combining bread flour and whole wheat flour gives a balanced structure, rise and flavour while increasing nutritional value. Milk, eggs, and butter enrich the dough. Milk powder and white sugar enhance flavour and browning, and salt fine-tunes the taste. The seed mix adds a nice crunch, and Tangzhong ensures softness and longevity. Together, these ingredients create delicious, tender, and flavourful milk buns.

Making Your Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns

Baker’s Percentage

WeightIngredientBakers %
256 gramsBread Flour80%
64 gramsWhole Wheat Flour20%
128 gramsMilk (3.25%)40%
42 gramsEgg13%
42 gramsMilk Powder1.7%
32 gramsWhite Sugar10%
6 grams Salt2%
6 gramsInstant Yeast1.8%
29 gramsButter (Room Temperature)9%
64 gramsSeed Mix
(Sunflower Seeds, Yellow Flax Seeds, Black Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds)
20%
132 gramsTangzhong41.4%
Tangzhong
26 gramsBread Flour8.2%
129 gramsWater40.3%
Baked milk buns on a cooling rack.

Tips for Making and Storing Your Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns

Making the tangzhong – Whisk the flour and water together in a saucepan until there are no lumps, then transfer to the stovetop and cook at low-medium heat and stir continuously. Adding flour to boiling water can make a lumpy paste.

Mixing – Mixing the buns will likely take longer than you think. When the dough first comes together, it lacks strength. Don’t give up, keep mixing! The total mixing time will be about 10-12 minutes.

Shaping – The whole wheat tangzhong milk buns needs to have a tight surface after the final shaping. When shaping, make sure the surface of the dough is taut. This helps the buns hold their shape and will help to increase their volume during baking. Pinch the seams at the bottom to create a smooth, tight surface on top.

Baking – Brush the tops of the buns with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with a few drops of water) before baking. This will give them a beautiful golden-brown colour and a shiny finish. The egg was will also help the seeds stick to the outside of the loaf.

Storing – You can store your milk buns for 2-3 days at room temperature in a sealed container or bag to keep in moisture. You can also freeze them in a bag or container with an airtight seal for 2-3 weeks. To defrost, simply pop in the microwave, toaster oven or oven at 350 F or 175 C until warm and heated through.

Milk Bun Variations:

This recipe is easy to customize to your liking, so feel free to have fun with some different variations, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Cinnamon Raisin Buns
    • Additions: Add 1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and replace the seeds with raisins.
    • Topping: Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
  2. Honey Almond Buns
    • Additions: Substitute honey in place of the sugar and almonds in place of the seeds.
    • Topping: Glaze with honey and sprinkle sliced almonds on top after baking.
  3. Orange Cranberry Buns
    • Additions: Replace the seeds with a mixture of orange zest and dried cranberries.
    • Topping: Brush with an orange glaze (orange juice and powdered sugar) after baking.
  4. Cheese and Herb Buns
    • Additions: Replace the seeds with shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan) and 2 tablespoons of mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme, or chives).
    • Topping: Sprinkle extra cheese and herbs on top before baking.
  5. Garlic Parmesan Buns
    • Additions: Add 2-3 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the dough.
    • Topping: Brush with garlic butter and sprinkle with more parmesan before baking.
  6. Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Buns
    • Additions: Replace the seeds with sun-dried tomatoes and add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil to the dough.
    • Topping: Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt after baking.
Baked whole wheat tangzhong milk buns with seeds on a cooling rack.

Other Fun Recipes!

If you enjoyed making these Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns, you should check out some of our other recipes on the blog that we know you’ll love, like our burger buns, homestyle biscuits, or whole-grain banana bread! For more videos, tips and tricks, you can also check out my YouTube Channel.

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A bowl of freshly baked Tangzhong milk buns with seeds

Whole Wheat Tangzhong Milk Buns With Seeds


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  • Author: MJD
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 9 buns 1x

Description

A twist on a classic recipe, these buns are a perfect blend of softness and wholesome goodness, thanks to the tangzhong method—a Japanese technique that keeps the bread super moist and fluffy. Made with whole wheat flour and filled with an assortment of seeds, these buns offer a nutty crunch that complements their sweet, mild flavour. Whether you’re new to bread-making or a seasoned baker, this recipe is a must-try for its simplicity and delicious results.


Ingredients

Scale

Tangzhong

  •  26g Bread Flour
  • 129g Water

Final Dough

  • 256g Bread Flour
  • 64g Whole Wheat Flour 
  • 128g Whole Milk (3.25%)
  • 42g Egg (1 Egg)
  • 5g Milk Powder
  • 32g White Sugar
  • 6g Salt
  • 6g Instant Yeast
  • 29g Butter (Room Temperature)
  • 64g Seed Mix (Sunflower Seeds, Yellow Flax Seeds, Black Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds) 
  • 132g Tangzhong (all of the Tangzhong)

Egg Wash

  • 1 Whole Egg beaten
  • Seeds for garnish

Instructions

Process (Tangzhong)

  1. Whisk the flour and water together in a saucepan until there are no lumps, then transfer to the stovetop cook at low-medium heat and stir continuously.  Some of the water will evaporate and the final weight will be less than the starting weight of the ingredients.
  2. Cool to room temperature.

Process (Final Dough)

  1. Mix all ingredients except the seeds in a bowl until a soft dough forms about 3 minutes on first speed followed by 6 minutes on 2nd speed. 
  2. Add the seeds and mix in on first speed for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Bulk ferment for 50-60 minutes; DDT  25°C (78°F).
  4. Divide the dough into 9 pieces.
  5. Flatten each piece and roll up.  The buns need to have a tight surface after the final shape.  Place your hand over the dough and use the surface of the table to tighten the dough into a taut ball.  This helps the buns hold their shape and will help to increase their volume during baking.  Pinch the seams at the bottom to create a smooth, tight surface on top.
  6. Place all the pieces in a pan.
  7. Proof for 70-90 minutes. 
  8. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds if desired.
  9. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes. 
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Category: Breads
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Japanese


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