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Sep 1, 2015

Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

These Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls are so soft and fluffy. When you separate them, the crumb just pulls apart into deliciously thin ethereal sheets of goodness.

Tangzhong you ask? It is a starter made of flour and water, and sometimes milk, that is cooked to exactly 149 degrees F (well maybe not exactly in my case), cooled, and added to the dough. The resulting bread is amazingly soft. It's the kind of bread that is so good with just salted butter.

See what I mean?

Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

Today my opinionated seven year old grandson came to visit and he accepted an offer of a roll for a snack. He promptly ate two.

Me: "I made these myself!"
Grandson: "You make everything yourself!"


Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

These rolls are also great for sandwiches and sliders.

This month the #TwelveLoaves bread baking group is baking with seeds! I love the checkerboard pattern that these rolls make in the pan. I used sesame and poppy seeds interspersed with some plain rolls to create this pattern. You could also use flax seeds, or, if you don't like seeds, bran and oats to coat the tops of the rolls. Have fun!

Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls

For more fun with Tangzhong, check out this Hokkaido Milk Bread and this Tangzhong Whole Wheat and Rye Bread.

For more breads using seeds, check out the links from the other #TwelveLoaves members after the recipe.

Checkerboard Tangzhong Rolls



90 grams (6 T) water
18 grams (2 T) bread flour

Final Dough

345 grams bread flour
30 grams sugar
7 grams instant yeast
15 grams milk powder (optional, I used King Arthur Flour's Special Dry Milk)
All of the tangzhong
75 to 90 grams whole milk
30 grams heavy whipping cream
1 egg
30 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
5 grams salt


Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, bran, or other seed or topping of your choice


To make the tangzhong:

  1. Whisk the water and flour together in a small saucepan until blended. 
  2. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens reaches 149 degrees F, or if you don't have a thermometer, until your spoon forms lines in the mixture. Do not walk away as this happens really fast.
  3. Immediately scrape the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the mixture and let it cool to room temperature.

To make the final dough:

  1. Add the dry ingredients except the salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the tangzhong with the the milk, cream, and egg. 
  3. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix on low with the dough hook. Add the salt. 
  4. Add the butter, a little bit at a time, continuing to mix on low. If the dough gets too slippery, switch to the paddle for a minute or two to incorporate the ingredients.
  5. Once the butter is incorporated, knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. 
  6. Transfer the dough to an oiled boil, cover, and let rise for one to two hours, until doubled. You can also let it rise in the refrigerator overnight, up to 24 hours. 
  7. Line a 9 inch by 9 inch cake pan with parchment and spray with spray oil. 
  8. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape the pieces into rolls. 
  9. Dip each roll into milk and then into the seeds of your choice. Or, for better seed placement than I got, sprinkle the seeds over the top of the milk dipped roll. Arrange the rolls in the pan in a pattern of your choice. 
  10. Cover and let rise 1 to 2 hours, until doubled.
  11. Preheat the oven to 355 degrees F.
  12. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, until golden. Lift the parchment out of the pan and place the rolls on a wire rack. Remove the parchment and let cool a bit before serving. 
  13. Store extras in a plastic bag. 
Adapted from a recipe contributed by Dave W, a member of the Facebook group, Artisan Bread Bakers.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh, my gosh, Karen! These rolls look so fluffy and perfect. I'm going to have to get on the tangzhong bandwagon :)

  2. I love that the checkerboard pattern would please everyone at a family dinner table-- seeds for some, plain rolls for others. And for me? I'd use it as an excuse to eat one of each!

  3. Karen, these look so pretty! I love the pattern of seeds. Do you know why the heating process for the milk and flour makes the rolls so soft? It's an interesting technique and I'm curious about how it works.

    1. Chelsea, I think it has something to do with the gluten in the tangzhong plumping up or something!

  4. Fantastic rolls Karen! We love those little buns, we have some similar rolls here which we stuff with high quality parizer meat and The Laughing Cow cheese:) Delicious!
    Lots of greetings from Athens!
    Panos and Mirella

    1. Thanks Panos and Mirella! Greetings from California!

  5. The rolls look really delicious! Thinking of sliders now :) ... I'm eyeing that beautiful board too! :)

  6. The texture of this bread sounds marvelous and a Tangzhong starter is new to me! Great idea to do a checkerboard with the seeds.

  7. May I please become your taste tester. I promise to leave a few for your grandson, but only a few. These are just too beautiful to remain in the pan.

  8. These are really pretty and they look like they taste good too! I am loving the variety!

  9. I'm intrigued by the starter process in these rolls. I'm going to have to try this method. They look just fantastic. So light!

  10. I have often thought about trying this method and got really enthused when I saw the link to the wholewheat and rye version. Made it yesterday and it is fantastic!! Thank you so much for the recipe and clear instructions.

  11. I just made those (used full fat yoghurt in stead of cream) and they are fantastic! My first try at tangzhong and definitely not the last! Thanks for the recipe!


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