Make the softest and fluffiest White Loaf Bread without using commercial or synthetic bread softener at all with this recipe. Nothing beats healthy and homemade bread!
Freshly made loaf of bread has always made me nostalgic as it played a big part of my diet growing up. We used to live right next to a bakery, so we got the next best thing to homemade loaf bread back then.
Now, I can easily make it at home anytime. I also learned a technique that will give your sandwich bread a higher rise that remains moist and stays soft longer. It is not by using commercial or synthetic bread softener or improver that is normally used in commercial bread production. Read on and find out.
Foxy Tips for a Soft and Fluffy White Bread Loaf
Tangzhong or water roux – this is simply a mixture of flour and water or milk cooked into a thick slurry. This is the secret to achieve that soft, springy white bread. It helps the dough absorb more liquid and retain moisture. Since there is more steam created inside the dough while baking, it will result in a higher rise. It will also keep the bread moist for days after so it stays soft and fresh longer.
Bread flour or All-purpose flour? – This is one of the most common questions I get for bread recipes. Either if the two can be used for making white loaf bread and I have tried both with good results.
The difference is that when I used bread flour, it came out a little chewier and less crumbly as it produces more gluten which gives the dough elasticity. This makes it rise higher but holds its shape better. Using all-purpose flour makes the bread lighter and fluffier as it contains less protein compared to bread flour. This is also a less expensive option.
I have also tried using an equal mix of both (70/30 BF/APF)and the result was the one I liked best- a little bit chewy but springy at the same time.
Remember- different types of flour has different flour-to-water ratio. The higher the protein/gluten content, the more water it needs. Also important to note, not all-purpose flour acts the same. Different brands have different ways of processing their flour and different contents.
The Bread Rising Process
Making sure that you do not end up with lumpy bread requires care, attention to detail, and patience. Using yeast can be tricky as they are live organisms that react to certain conditions. Always remember not to use hot water when proofing your yeast (mixing yeast with water to activate it) because it will kill them and leave your bread flat.
Your kitchen temperature also affects the rising timeline. A warm and humid room helps the dough rise faster compared to a cold room. So be extra patient on rainy and cold days!
It also depends on the type of yeast you opt to use. Using dry active yeast takes a longer time for the dough to rise than using instant yeast. I highly recommend using SAF Instant Gold (specifically made for sweet dough) or Red Star Platinum brands. Because they rise faster, it eliminates the chance of taking on a slightly tangy, fermented flavor.
I have also read a lot of baking articles that encourage the use of steam during baking to make the bread taller as it allows the loaf to rise even more using the initial stage of baking called “ovenspring”. The steam helps to keep the crust soft on the first few minutes of baking, therefore allowing the loaf to expand a bit more.
No need to buy a steam oven to achieve this, as there are several ways to do this using your regular oven at home. One way is to put a pan like a cast iron at the bottom of the oven before pre-heating it. Once the dough is inside, pour 1/2 water on the hot pan to create steam and close the oven door. Another way is to spritz water in the oven sidewalls, just be careful not to spray on the oven bulb though.
Get that Perfect Crust
If you do not want your bread loaf to be too brown, “tenting” it will help. Simply place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the loaf when the desired color has been achieved but the bread is not yet completely baked. The foil helps by reflecting heat, therefore, reducing the browning of the crust.
I brush my loaves with egg wash 10 minutes before they are done to give it a golden hue. Brush with water to make it crustier, or brush with butter to make it super soft. It’s up to you!
As much as you’d like to leave the oven to do the job, make sure to check halfway the baking time if you need to turn your loaf for even browning.
Soft and Fluffy White Bread Recipe using Tangzhong
- 130 ml whole milk – -lukewarm
- 1 tbsp instant dry yeast
- 350 grams all-purpose flour
- 60 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 30 grams unsalted butter
- 1 small egg – + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Tangzhong / Water Roux
- 25 grams flour
- 100 ml milk
- Prepare the water roux or Tangzhong first by whisking together the flour and milk in a saucepan and cooking it while stirring or whisking continuously over medium-low heat until it gets a pudding-like consistency. Let it cool down to room temperature before using.
- Using a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the yeast, Tangzhong, butter, egg, and lukewarm milk then mix for 12 minutes at medium-low speed. It will be very sticky at the beginning but just keep on beating until the dough is smooth and no longer too tacky.
- Form the dough into a ball and coat it with oil. Place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise until it almost doubles in size (30 mins-2 hours).
- Gently punch down the dough and transfer on a surface greased with oil. Roll the dough in a rectangle, with a length almost thrice the length of the loaf pan. Then fold like a letter, from right covering the center then from left covering both layers. Then roll the dough jellyroll fashion from the end closest to you towards the farther end.
- Place the dough in a 5"x9" loaf pan greased with oil with the seam facing down and cover with kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise for the second time until it doubles in size.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes with the pan placed on a lower or middle rack.
- In a small bowl, beat 1 small egg and 1 tablespoon water until frothy. Take out the loaf from the oven and brush the exposed part with egg wash then place back in oven for to go on baking for another 10-15 minutes or until top is nice brown and shiny.
- Take the loaf out of the oven and let it cool down for some minutes. Remove it from pan to cool down completely. Slice with a bread knife in your preferred thickness.
This recipe of white bread was originally published in May 2016. Updated in June 2020 to include more tips and a recipe video.