Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How To Make Water Roux/Tang Zhong Mixture

For a blog dedicated in (mostly) home bread baking, I have not posted enough Asian bread recipe. That's pretty ironic since I, myself, am Asian to the core. Who am I to eat French bread and refuse soft, cottony Asian bread.

There are two reasons on why I seem to neglect making Asian bread at home. First, and it's such a simple reason indeed, I can find it almost everywhere in town. Even if I don't try to find it, the bicycle riding street vendors will ride from one neighborhood to another offering fresh baked bread twice a day, morning and late afternoon, so I don't always bother making it. Second, this is serious, ever since I involve myself more and more in the world of bread making, like any other world, there is always a dark side.

Oooohh... (scary sound effects in)

The dark side I'm talking about is actually the story behind any mass produced food: The excessive use of chemicals, improver, artificial colorings, and preservatives. Some additives might obtained an okay permit from the government and some did not, which comes back to the question of whether you trust the government or not. Those beautiful looking bread sold at the mall will take your breath away, sometimes literally. I admit they taste really good. My lazy self sometimes succumbs to the temptation of not having to knead heavy dough in the morning. But I also know they contain enhancers, bread improver, and multiple enzymes manufactured in factories. But the more expensive the bread is, the lesser amount of additives it contains. 

Well, how convenient. Now we all can feel a lot better.

But then I must ask you the question I always ask my friends, "Would you rather spend 50 thousand Rupiah for one loaf of bread or for a half kilo of meat you can turn into hearty stew and eat with hot rice?"

If you answer meat, then this post, even my whole blog, is meant for you: Bread lovers who enjoy wonderful bread but refuse to pay a lot because what is bread but flour, water, and yeast.

So since I am hoping to post more daily Asian bread in the future, I shall elaborate as clear and as easy as possible on how to make your go-to water roux mixture and all the yada-yadas.


As we all know, roux is a thick mixture used as thickeners in soups and sauces. It is usually made with fat and flour. Water roux is basically a thick paste, hence the word 'roux', made with water and bread flour. But here's the catch: Water Roux mixture can do more than just imitate what bread improver and preservatives do to a loaf. Water roux mixture traps the moisture in the bread during the baking process and retains it even after the bread is baked.

Tall, fluffy, and tender loaf is a promise.

To make 135gr of Water Roux mixture, you only need:
-25 gr bread flour
-125 ml water

Whisk together the water and the flour until the mixture is lump free. Over medium heat, stir the mixture. 

Once you see the mixture thickens, you have to pay really close attention. Theory-wise, you should stop when the mixture's temperature reaches 65C. But not everyone has a candy thermometer and honestly, this is something you can eyeball. So when yours starts to look like the one on the picture above; thick with lines starting to appear, remove right away from the fire.

The right color for water roux is white and the consistency is rather similar to pastry cream. IF your water roux's color is grey, then my friend.. you have succeeded in making glue out of starch. Do start all over again. 

Just like storing pastry cream, you have to put a cling film on the surface of the water roux mixture to avoid the 'skin' from forming and you also must keep  it refrigerated. It will last 2-3 days. 
-ALWAYS bring your water roux mixture into room temperature before incorporating it into the recipe that already states how much it needs and don't forget to measure it. If you need more than 135gr, all you have to do is double the recipe.
-If you want to convert a non-water roux recipe to a recipe that contains water roux mixture, all you have to do is take the 1/2 cup of the liquid and 25 gr of flour in the original recipe, cook a water roux mixture, cool in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, then incorporate it in the recipe you've chosen.

So, that's all folks! Feel free to talk about bread baking with me and I hope this post is helpful to you. 

Happy baking bread!

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