Homemade Taco Shells

Homemade Taco Shells


You will need:


1 cup flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

½ Tbsp lard

95 ml water


Tacos are an easy, nutritious, and delicious meal made better by baking your own taco shells. It’s so much easier than you would think. Here’s how it’s done.


First you will need to remove the wire rack from inside the oven and then preheat to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Next whisk together your dry ingredients to make sure everything gets combined evenly. Next you will mix the lard in by hand until the mix resembles small crumbs. Now mix in the water until it forms a dough. Knead for 10 minutes to develop the gluten and create a smooth elastic dough. Divide into 6 equal portions and rest for 20 minutes covered by plastic.


Roll out each one as flat as you can. Rest 20 minutes again and fry over medium heat until it starts to bubble then flipping it to fry the other side. Once they are cool enough to handle, arrange in the wire rack and bake them until they turn golden and crispy.


Remove with tongs and enjoy with your favorite toppings.



Sugar Cookies

Making sugar cookies


Sugar cookies are my favorite thing to bake because they are so versatile. They can be decorated to suit any theme or holiday. When I was a little girl I used to love watching and helping my Auntie make her christmas sugar cookies. They are still my favorite. For Easter I decided to make robin egg sugar cookies. Here is how I made them.


You will need:


Brown sugar          ¼ cup

Granulated sugar   ¾ cup

Margarine (room temp)            ¾ cup

Flour       2 cups

Salt                         ¼ tsp

Baking soda           ½ tsp

Egg (room temp)                    2

Vanilla                    1 tsp

Royal icing

Black or Brown food dye


The first step is to cream your sugars with the margarine using a paddle attachment. It is important to cream the sugars and margarine well to incorporate air into the dough,tenderizing it. Margarine is an ideal fat to use for cutout cookies due to its wide plastic range or its ability to stretch, keeping the dough soft and workable even after chilling.

Next you will add your vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Now sift or whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda before adding to the mixer. Mix just until a dough is formed. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill the dough for at least two hours before moving on to the next step.


Knead the dough a few times just to soften it and then lightly flour the countertop and top of your dough before rolling. Roll the dough evenly to about half a centimeter thick. When cutting, it is important to remember that different size and thickness of the cookies will affect the required bake time. Cookies of multiple sizes should not be baked on the same tray. To do so would lead to some being over or underbaked. Possibly both in the same batch. Cut out your desired shapes as close together as possible and re roll the remaining dough until it is all used up.

dough111112The cookies should be baked at about 350 degrees fahrenheit until they are just starting to brown around the edges. You can also test doneness by touching the top of the cookie to see if it is starting to set or if it is still too soft. Allow them to set for 3-5 minutes on the bake sheets before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely


The next step is to trace the outside of the cookie with piping consistency icing. The way I check the consistency is by sticking a spatula into the icing. If it can stand up straight on its own then it is stiff enough for piping. You can find more information about that here if you are unsure. Use a piping bag with a small round tip. Hold it just high enough for the icing to fall into place as you go rather than trying to draw with it. This will result in smoother, straighter lines.

It will need to dry completely before flooding so make sure to keep your piping bags and icing bowls covered with clean wet cloths to prevent them from drying out.

Once the outlines are completely dry, thin down your icing to flood consistency. It should be thin enough to flow on its own to fill in the outline. Allow to dry completely.


Arrange the cookies close together on top of parchment paper. Dip a new paintbrush or toothbrush into black or brown food dye and run your finger across it to flick the dye onto the cookies for a speckled look.  

These are so cute yet so easy to make. I hope you will give them a try.

The Tonka Bean


The tonka bean (http://bakingbites.com/2012/09/what-are-tonka-beans/) is to my knowledge not used in Canadian cooking very often. I was pretty excited when I first got to work with it as it was something I had not previously been exposed to before. The last restaurant I worked in was the first and so far the only time I have had any exposure to it.

I love being experiencing new ingredients as it always reminds me how many interesting and intriguing ways you can be inventive with your creations.


It has a fabulous smell similar to woodruff and vanilla, with hints of amaretto. It is fairly popular. (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/11/the-tonka-bean-an-ingredient-so-good-it-has-to-be-illegal/65616/ )


The tonka bean is originally from South America (http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/02/02/why-you-should-be-cooking-with-tonka-beans/ ) and grows on a flowering tree.

    tonka-bean-tree.jpg                               6554545.jpg

It is a small black wrinkled bean in the legume family. It has a smooth interior very similar to that of nutmeg.


I believe it is less popular in North America, mostly because it is is illegal in the US. Its actually funny that it is illegal in the first place, the bean contains high amounts of coumarin which is a naturally occurring chemical found in high levels in the tonka bean and can be toxic to the liver in high amounts.


However the amount needed to cause toxicity would be the equivalent to 80 beans. That’s an amount that would never be consumed. Cinnamon, lavender, and licorice also contains levels of coumarin. Nutmeg is also toxic in similar high amounts and is evidently legal. However it is not illegal in Canada which is great for us because it is very tasty.

I have had the chance to work with it in my last workplace where they made Lady Fingers flavoured with tonka.

There are many uses for this bean including mixed drinks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO1IwWwPV18), perfumes, and desserts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H2bpfznSmI), this dessert for tonka panna cotta with pear compote looks great!

This recipe for tonka flavoured icecream sounds amazing!


Tonka Bean Icecream with Scotch Caramel Swirl

For the Icecream

1 quart half and half (or 2 cups each milk and heavy cream)

1 cup sugar

2 small or 1 very large tonka bean

6 egg yolks

For the Caramel

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 cup scotch

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

For the Ice Cream Base: Combine half and half with sugar in medium saucepan. Grate tonka bean into liquid with microplane. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to be sure sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Place yolks in medium mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, pour half-and-half mixture into bowl with yolks, then scrape mixture into saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with spatula and scraping bottom often to prevent curdling. Once thick enough to coat spatula, remove from heat and strain immediately through fine mesh strainer. Chill over ice, then place in a lidded container and allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator.

  • 2.

For the Caramel: Place sugar, water, and salt in medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Allow to come to a boil, then watch carefully until sugar begins to caramelize. Gently swirl to promote even caramelization. Once caramel reaches a dark honey color, remove from heat. Allow to darken slightly more off the heat to almost the color of maple syrup. Slowly and away from yourself, drizzle in scotch and cream. It will bubble and sputter and your caramel will seize so be careful. Place over low heat, whisking gently every few minutes, until seized caramel is fully melted. Set aside and allow to cool. Chill thoroughly before churning ice cream.

  • 3.

When you’re ready to churn, pour chilled base into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is ready, pack a thin layer into the bottom of a heavy duty plastic or metal container, then drizzle with caramel. Repeat until all ice cream and caramel has been layered into container. Freeze at least 1 hour until firm.


The recipe can be found here (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/04/tonka-bean-ice-cream-with-scotch-caramel-swirl-recipe.html).

Baking with tonka is certainly a treat. They can be purchased from a Calgary based company here (http://www.silkroadspices.ca/products/tonka-beans).


Happy Baking.


Thanks for reading,



Taste and the Function of Form

How important is how your food looks? In recent years, a variety of new studies have cropped up studying the relationship of how food is manifested and how we experience it. While the majority of how we taste is directly connected to our sense of smell, what we see on our plates may have more impact that you think.

There are some functional ways in which form affects flavour. New technologies at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University have confirmed that the shape of a wine glass directly affects the flavours experienced through manipulating the distribution of flavour-enhancing ethanol vapours. (Newton, Scientific American) In 2012, a consumer uproar arose over changes in the Cadbury formula. Cadbury, however, changed its shape from square block to rounded pieces, but did not change the recipe. Based on prior sensory tests by the Nestle Research Centre, the round shape encouraged faster melting, affecting release of flavour compound and the ensuing perception. (Scott-Thomas)

But further research seems to indicate that the mental perception of shape alone may be enough to sway our palettes. Studies are being done indicating everything from color to sounds actually changes the way something tastes to the individual. (This article giving some breakdown on a slew of new research being delved into.) For us as bakers, hoping to perhaps innovate in our field, even adapting traditional recipes, this could be a crucial tool.

Pastéis de Belém

Maybe you’ve heard of these addicting world famous little Portuguese egg custard tarts..

If not..

Well. You’re missing out.

A flaky, buttery crust, delicate creamy custard with a characteristically rustic charred top  that is typically dusted in a thin layer of icing sugar and cinnamon. Served warm.



I went to Portugal for 1 month in July of 2014 for a student exchange trip with 5 other lucky people from our Culinary Arts Program at NAIT. We traveled around Portugal as beautifully spoiled tourists for three weeks and each did a stage at separate restaurants/hotels for one week. Pretty good deal.


An awesome opportunity both personally and professionally. We were treated like superstars with drivers/tour guides (who felt like family after the month), tours to wine cellars, vineyards, art galleries, a sea salt producer, an olive oil producer, a coffee factory/museum, historical sites, castles, and culinary schools (went to three! All very different).



Also wine tastings…Lots of wine tastings. Before Portugal I did not like wine..

Three hour long dinners in the late evening (nine pm usually) full of various small courses with wine and all ending with desserts, espresso and chats.



Every where we visited from the North to the South of Portugal, Pasteis de Nata was a proudly evident dessert and tightly grasped secret recipe as a staple Portuguese dessert item.

When we arrived in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, our BFF “tour” guides took us on a special trip to the district of Belem just outside of Lisbon, where we were introduced to the adorable bakeshop where the tarts originated in 1837.



This pretty little bakery was the origin of Pasteis de Nata and held the top secret family formula that has been passed down for four generations and is still famously known and redone around the world.  But only the tarts made at Antig Confeitaria de Belem can be called Pasteis de Belem, they are otherwise known as Pasteis de Nata.

Here is a brief history video as well as a look at the bakery cafe where they are made.


Each day they pop out about 10 000 of these pastries and there is a window while inside the cafe that lets you see the production area.




With lines up and down the street on a typical day, it is still definitely worth the wait.

Went in to try one. Ending up buying six…for myself.



Lisbon, Portugal - Belem Pasteis de Belem pastel de nata2 - Lisbon Airport car hire

It is baked in a oven that blasts up to 800 F for these little guys, or to make at home try and reach 550 F. They are not as easy as they look to make, with many variations on how it is done. I tried making my own of these and they turned not too bad but not nearly as good as the original. Of course.

Also my oven definitely doesn’t go up to 800 F to get the proper bake.

While at a tour in Portugal we went to a school in Lisbon where we watched as they prepared their version of this special tart for us.

And I got the recipe!


Pasteis de Nata

Masa Folhada – Puff Pastry

  • Bread FLour 55% – 1 kg
  • Water – 600 ml
  • Butter – 800g

Calda Da Acucar – Sugar Syrup

  • White Sugar – 1 kg
  • Water, room temp – 500ml
  • Lemon Peel – To taste or 1 lemon
  • Cinnamon Stick – 1


  • 1/2 and 1/2 Milk – 1L
  • Bread Flour – 55% – 150g
  • Maize Flour – 35g

Egg Mixture

  • Egg Yolks – 11
  • Whole Egg – 1


Puff Dough

(I don’t have great notes on how they made the puff dough!)

  1. Give 2 turns, brush with water after rolling out. 3/4 inch thick. Don’t chill.
  2. Cut little strips and roll up into a spiral and place in small  muffin tin molds. (They have special little tins made especially for these tarts in Portugal!)
  3. Wet thumb and with one smooth movement, press inside the spiral and spread the dough to the edges of the mold. Set aside.

(This picture doesn’t show how the dough was a little spiral that they placed inside then spread apart)



Custard Filling

  1. Whisk flour and milk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Bring sugar syrup to 100 C.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick and peel and  pour a thin stream, while whisking into the flour and milk mixture.
  4. Temper in the egg mixture. Strain, and set aside.



  1. Set oven to 550 F.
  2. Fill each pastry cup 3/4 full with the warm filling.
  3. Bake 8- 9 minutes until the tops are brown and slightly blackened. Cool slightly.
  4. EAT.


Serve with Port wine or coffee, a light dusting of icing sugar and or cinnamon while warm.

*Don’t get them at TNT, pastry is all wrong! Try Popular Bakery on 118th street to get the most authentic taste in Edmonton!

Happy Baking!







Flaky Scallion Pancakes

Green onion cakes (also known as scallion pancakes) have been a staple of festival season in Edmonton for as long as I can remember. Savoury, greasy, and aromatic with green onion, amongst the sweetness of ice creams and mini donuts, the simplicity of fries, ketchup and the typical hot dog, green onion cakes were the standout in flavour and texture. Having grown up with my family working the Fringe, it’s one of those sensory memories intrinsically tied to the summer – inimitable.

At least that was the impression I got when I tried to recreate the magic at home 10 years ago. In the chill of winter and yearning for summer sensations, I tried my darnedest to recreate those token treats. But no matter how onion filled, how deep fried, how desperately encouraged each pancake was as it sizzled in the pan, the centre was always doughy and damp, making the crisp, well browned exterior a waste, dulling the flavours of the inclusions added. Burned by my failures, I retreated from my google searches, and thought not to try again until recently. Today’s search revealed what had previously eluded me, and I found my green onion cake redemption.

J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats endured a similar initial experience to mine. “Fried dough and scallions, right? How hard could it be?” Upon discovering how to really make scallion pancakes, he took to the internet to share the two secrets: hot water dough, and lamination.

Hot Water Dough

By using a hot water dough, you denature the protein. Instead of being elastic and tenacious, the dough becomes more plastic, resulting in a dough with enough gluten to support mild lamination, but a short, chewy bite.


The dough is laminated through being brushed with sesame seed oil, (at this point sprinkled with green onions,) rolled, wound like a snail and then flattened, creating flaky layers of evenly distributed flavour. This can even be done more than once, that flattened snail being rolled, wound and flattened again for even flakier pancakes.

Included below is López-Alt’s recipe for Extra Flakey Scallion Pancakes. Go forth and recreate those summer memories, any time of the year.

Extra Flakey Scallion Pancakes

For the Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
1 cup boiling water
Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens

For the Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar

To Cook:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt

1. Place flour in bowl of food processor (see note). With processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4 of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.

2. Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Working one ball at a time, roll out into a disk roughly 8-inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Using a pastry brush, paint a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of the disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.

3. Paint with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with 1/2 cup scallions, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.

4. Combine all the sauce ingredients and set aside at room temperature.

5. Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron over medium-high heat until shimmering and carefully slip pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping. Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes.

The Beginnings

Growing up I really loved food. I was my mom’s assistant in the kitchen. She would get me to measure the flour, make sure it was level and count very closely.  After much insistence I received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. I loved this thing.  You mix your little packet of cake mix with water or milk, put it in the 3 inch cake pan and bake it in the little light bulb heated oven for 7-10 minutes until it was baked. Then I would decorate the little cake with frosting from a container and sprinkles. The cake would then be shared by myself and my little sister who was too young to use the Easy Bake Oven and not happy about it.

easy bake 2005a.jpg

Eventually I upgraded to being allowed to use the oven by myself which was a big deal and I started baking recipes I found in my Mom’s Company’s Coming books.


Banana bread, cookies, muffins, and cakes. There was a number of mishaps for certain but gradually I got a bit better as time went on. I went through this phase of love for cinnamon. I found this recipe for yeast less cinnamon buns  that I started to make. When I first started making these cinnamon buns I would get frustrated because the dough was sticky and sometimes the filling would boil over. Then on one occasion I had scaled up all the ingredients and then proceeded to mix up the butters for the filling and the dough. The dough had extra butter in it and became much smoother and easier to work with. With a little less butter in the filling and a little less sugar, it wouldn’t boil out as easily. Then I started putting them in a muffin tin to bake them so the filling wouldn’t flow out completely.

Cinnamon Buns 

Flour                    2 cups

Butter                   1/3 cup

Sugar                    2 Tbsp

Salt                       1 tsp

Milk                      1 cup

Butter                  1/4 cup

Brown Sugar      3/4 cup

Cinnamon          1.5 tsp


Dry blend the sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter. Add milk and stir until combined. To make filling cream the sugar and butter and cinnamon until spreadable. Roll out dough. Spread with filling. Roll up. Cut into 12 rolls and put in muffin tins. Bake at 375F.

My interests only grew from there. I started volunteering at this used bookstore/cafe called Sam’s Place. I saw my first ever fresh baked bread. I was able to help with some of the specials and because of a very delicious coffee cake called Blueberry Boy Bait


I started following the Smitten Kitchen blog and I have been nurturing my interest in food, baking and pastry. It stopped being something I would muddle around with in the kitchen and became what I actually wanted to do for a living.


Eventually I applied for Culinary Arts and really just got hooked on baking and pastry after taking a patisserie class.

The next step will be to bake and cook in Europe.

Thanks for reading,



Baking is a true science and for me baking is my passion, I put love into the things that I make. This makes a difference in the product, both in appearance and the way it tastes. My friends tend to say to me, ‘boy this is so good and tastes better than when I make it, what is your trick?” and my answer to them every time is one word…. Love. If you love what you do it will shine through your product and people can literally taste the difference.

My all time favourite Dutch dessert is Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake). This traditional Dutch dessert is somewhere between a tart and a shortbread. It has lots of butter, an almond flavour, a reminiscent of frangipane and makes a great afternoon treat at coffee/tea time. Oh my goodness my mouth is watering just thinking about it!


As for my Oma’s recipe, now that is a secret but I will share another recipe with you all that I found to produce a delicious product.


To make boterkoek:

  • 150g butter
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 200g  flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 20g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with greaseproof paper.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy.

Remove one teaspoon of the beaten egg and set aside. Pour the rest of the egg into the mixture, and stir well. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Transfer the mixture to a baking tin, and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth (you might find it easier to use clean hands to smooth the mixture). Mix the teaspoon of egg with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top of the boterkoek. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch.



Trip to Dubai

        This year I had an opportunity to go to Dubai for a culinary competition. Having this type of opportunity really opens the doors for what amazing tasty creations are out there. The beauty of Dubai, as our tour guide said, is that Dubai tries to bring the all the very best to its city. Creations from all over the world can be found in Dubai, particularly the Dubai mall which seemed to house many very neat and very sweet creations.

View of the Dubai Mall

     While in Dubai we were mainly focused on our competition, however we did get a few days downtime to go and explore. During this time I was able to visit the Pierre Herme  macaron shop. I had never heard of this place before going or of Pierre Herme himself.

images 34.jpg


He is a well known pastry chef, known specifically for his macarons and his unusual flavour combinations.

In the Dubai mall they have a small kiosk on the first floor. There macarons were 12 Dirham each which worked out to being roughly $6 Canadian. I bought two. One was milk chocolate and passion fruit the other was salted caramel.

They were delicious!!!

Also while in Dubai I was told you cannot not go to Pappa Roti  . They are famous for there buns and coffee. They make this fabulous sweet rich bun that has something a coffee flavoured craqueline on top. The Pappa Roti buns are served best when warm out of the oven. They are served a what looks like a small peel and served with your choice of coffee.


I watched a video on how to make these buns. They are a sweet dough mixed very intensively. Each bun before it is rounded is filled with a cube of butter. After they are proofed they have a thin coffee flavoured batter piped on top of the buns in a tight spiral.images.jpg

What I really like seeing was the baker’s making them. They had this little kiosk shop in the middle of the mall and they were equipped with a deck oven and work space for baker’s to be constantly making these buns. They are unbelievably busy. Every seat was filled and the line up was huge. Apparently these buns are famous all over the middle east, India and originating in Malaysia. They are nick named the “Father of all the Buns.”


In my final wanderings of the Dubai Mall I wandered into a candy shop. It is called Candylicious. It is this international candy shop that that carries many of the worlds leading candy brands.


There whole mission statement is to make people happy. They give out free candy, the store is very colorful, and very bright music is playing in the store. What was really neat in this store was the 3D candy printer. It would print out any design or word you wanted in gummy candy. It cost like the equivalent of $80 Canadian. This video shows the whole process and making of the 3D gummy candies.

This concludes my adventures in sweets! Hopefully there will be many more to come. Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


Tangzhong, or Water Roux

Tangzhong is a paste of flour and water that has been cooked to fully gelatinize the present starches (then cooled before addition to your bread).

The effects of water roux can be two fold. The supplementary gelatinized starches further bind water in your bread, creating loaves or buns that stay “fresh” and soft for longer, and in binding that same water, lightly restrict gluten formation. This mild restriction means that while enough gluten forms to create good structure around the new excess of gelatinized starches, there is less of a hard protein structure to exacerbate stiffness as the bread ages.

Tangzhong is generally recommended to be mixed from a 1:5 ratio of flour to water, taken from already present total weights much in the same way one could cover a recipe to include a levain. This mixture is cooked, stirring, until it reaches 65ºC/150ºF. This slurry, cooled, is then added to your mix with your flour and liquid.

On Pastry Chef Online, Jennifer Field integrates tangzhong into a pain au lait. Having previously tested tangzhong use, she deviates slightly from the typical methodology. She uses milk in place of water (perfectly sensible in a pain au lait) and decreases the ratio difference between liquid and flour to create a thicker slurry. She integrates several bread techniques, such as autolyse making this a complex, but rewarding recipe.

Tangzhong Water Roux Pain au Lait
Recipe from Pastry Chef Online
(some steps modified for readability)

What You Need
For the tangzhong
* 6 oz whole milk
* 1.2 oz bread flour
For the Dough
* All the tangzhong
* 6 oz. whole milk
* 15.8 oz bread flour
* 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
* 1¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (from a batch of yeast you know is alive and kicking)
* 1⅛ teaspoon (7 grams) kosher salt (picky, but there you have it)
* 3.25 oz butter, cut into small pieces and allowed to get very soft

What To Do
For the tangzhong
1. Whisk together the flour and milk.
2. Once there are no lumps remaining, cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has evenly thickened and is nice and smooth.
3. Remove from the heat and…
For the Bread
1. Pour the 6 oz of milk into the tangzhong, whisking until smooth. (This will lower the temperature so you don’t have to wait before continuing.)
2. To your mixing bowl, add all the tangzhong/milk mixture and all the rest of the ingredients except for the butter.
3. With the dough hook, mix on low speed for one minute, or until the dough just comes together. There might be some loose flour in the bowl, but don’t worry about it. It will get incorporated in the next step when you add the butter.
4. Cover the mixer bowl with a lint-free towel (you can leave the bowl on the mixer) and let rest for 30 minutes. This rest (autolyse) allows some gluten to form before you even start kneading.
5. After the rest, turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the butter in several additions over the course of about three minutes. The dough will be a wreck–sticky, buttery, messy. Worry not.
6. Turn the mixer on medium speed and knead for 7 minutes.
7. Cover the bowl again and let rest for 20 minutes.
8. Remove the towel and knead on medium speed for 7 more minutes.
9. Test the dough. It should be somewhat tacky, very extensible (you can stretch it out really easily) and smooth. Check the dough with the windowpane test. If you can stretch out a wee piece of the dough until it is taught and translucent like bubble gum, you’re good to go.
10. Put the covered dough in the warm and moist microwave–leave the mug of water in there–and let double in size, 45 minutes-an hour.
11. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a clean work surface–no flour. Lightly press the dough into a rough 9″ square.
12. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Then, fold it in half–it will seem an impossible task, but just start at one side and sort of push the dough down in the center of your letter fold and pinch the top and bottom edges together. Keep doing this all the way down the length of your dough. Now you will have a fat cylinder of dough about a foot long.
13. Roll the dough over (smooth side up) and hold it like a bowed up slinky.
14. Fit the dough into a pan-sprayed 9″x5″ loaf pan so the slinky’s ends are down in the bottom of the pan. Then press the dough down a bit to even it out and allow it to sit snugly in the pan.
15. Heat the mug of water for another minute or so, and spray the top of the loaf with pan spray.
16. Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the cozy microwave with its little mug friend.
17. Go ahead and set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
18. Let the rise until it has not quite doubled in size–it will probably rise about an inch or so above the lip of the loaf pan. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
19. Once the dough has risen nicely, place in the preheated oven and bake until the loaf is a deep golden brown. It doesn’t need any egg wash or anything. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped and the internal temperature will be between 205ºF and 210ºF.
20. Tip the bread out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool at least an hour.
21. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days. For longer storage, pre-slice, wrap well and freeze. Pull out slices as needed and leave the rest frozen.

The scientific basis of tangzhong’s successful use is fairly straight forward to the educated baker; staling is caused by the migration of moisture out of the starch, resulting in it’s degelatinization. Use fully gelatinized starch in greater amounts, hold on to more water for longer, have less degelatinization. Simple stuff. Even the reduction in gluten formation, while it may not spring immediately to mind, is easily confirmable by any book detailing the science of gluten formation. However, The science behind tangzhong is fairly difficult to find authoritative confirmation for.

Said to originally be from Japan, it was proliferated throughout south-east asia in the 1990s via the book 65º Bread Doctor by Yvonne Chen. (cited in Cookipedia) This history seems to be generally accepted in the majority of descriptions found of tangzhong, which is indeed found in such popular japanese bread products as Hokkaido milk bread. My attempts to get the information straight from the horses mouth (or at least the book the horse wrote) was waylaid by the fact that 65º Bread Doctor is in Chinese. I can find no other mention of tangzhong anywhere that does not either cite Chen’s book as the source, or is entirely uncorroborated. Tangzhong works through basic, well known mechanisms, but short Yvonne Chen’s contributions might not be so readily available through the internet to the home or novice baker.

(If you know of any further books that mention tangzhong please comment! I would love to learn more about this fascinating medium.)

Interesting ways to experiment in the future: how would a tangzhong work in tandem with a levain? Tangzhong can be made from a variety of non gluten alternatives suggested on Pastry Chef Online (which seems very successful in Gluten Free on a Shoestring.) What difference is there between such alternatives?