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Hokkaido Milk Bread with yudane and biga

Silky soft Hokkaido-style milk bread. Texture softened with use of yudane and flavour enhanced by the slow fermentation of a milk biga (preferment)

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For the yudane:

60g strong bread flour

50g hot water

For the biga:

140g strong bread flour

105g fresh milk

pinch of dried yeast (~0.5-1g, weather dependent)

For the final dough:

120g strong bread flour

3g dried yeast

85g fresh millk

35g sugar

4g salt

40g butter (cubed, at room temp)

Bakes in loaf tin for 450g dough (mine is 21.3 x 12.2 x 11.5cm)


Day 1:

1. Make the yudane. Add 50g just off the boil hot water to 60g strong bread flour. Stir and knead to combine. Cover with cling film and leave in fridge for at least 8 hours before use.

2. Make the biga. Combine 105g cold milk, 140g strong bread flour and a pinch of yeast, making sure all flour is hydrated. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature to prove for 8 hours. After that, either let it ferment for another 3-4 hours at room temperature or store in fridge for use later (within 2 days). Biga is ready when it is more than double in size but still doming, and has developed strong gluten (see picture). Timings vary with temperature variation.

Day 2:

1. Measure out and put all final dough ingredients except butter in bowl of stand mixer. Make sure that salt and yeast don't come into direct contact.

2. Tear yudane and biga into small pieces and add to final dough ingredients, roughly distributing them.

3. Knead with stand mixer with dough hook at medium speed for about 5-10 minutes, until dough is strong and passes the window pane test.

4. Add the butter a little at a time while the machine is kneading. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Shape into a ball in bowl, cover and leave to prove until double, about 1.5-2 hours, temperature dependent.

6. When dough is doubled in size, punch down and knock out all the air. Divide into two or three equal parts and shape into balls. Rest on counter top for 15 minutes.

7. Lightly flour dough and rolling pin. Roll out each ball into a long strip, fold sides into middle to make a thinner strip. Roll up into log and place side by side in loaf tin.

8. Let dough proof for another 20-30mins, until it fills 85% of the tin. Meanwhile preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan off).

9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn out and let bread cool on cooling rack before slicing into it. Stays fresh for about 2-3 days but it won't last that long!