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Pillow-y-Soft Ladi Pav (No Milk Powder & Eggless) | Tangzhong Method

BreadIndian

Extremely soft, moist, and as light as clouds (that’s what our neighbor’s little daughter said). These Ladi Pavs are made without any milk powder, eggs, or any softening agent but still, they are very fluffy, too soft, and totally impossible to resist. You would want to have it the moment they are out of the oven.

These are made with a Japanese Technique – Tangzhong or water roux. This process makes it springy and spongy. This bread has great elasticity that they bounce back after pressing. & the best part is that it stays soft and fresh for longer. This method increases the shelf life of the bread. That means you can make it a day before and no need to wake up early to bake fresh and soft bread.

Story Time

Ladi Pavs or dinner rolls are quite easily available in the stores in India. But in Munich, I did not find these anywhere. When we started craving some Vada Pav, Misal Pav, or Pav Bhaji, I decided to make it myself. This is something which I like about living in Munich. I got to learn so many different recipes if they are not easily available or even if they are, they are not vegetarian or vegan. I learned to make vegan mango cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, cinnamon buns, etc.

To make these buns, I watched a couple of recipes but honestly, they did not turn out that good. They were good enough and soft the day I baked but they were not as good as the store-bought ones. They even got dry the next day. I asked some people about it and they said that I need to use milk powder or some softening agent to get the perfect result. They even told me to use bread flour. I did not want to do any of these things. I wanted a simple recipe whose ingredients are easily available in every household.

Then I found this Japanese technique – Tangzhong – which solved my problem. I baked these ladi pavs using this technique and every time they turned out absolutely perfect – extremely soft and moist and don’t get dry for at least 3 days. Wao. Respect for the person who created this.

What is Ladi Pav?

Ladi Pav is a very common bread that is quite popular in Maharashtra. You get plenty of recipes there that needs this bread – vada pav, misal pav, usal pav, pav bhaji, dabeli, etc – mostly snacks or street food.

These are extremely soft and moist milk bread that you don’t even need to toast. It is small in shape that comes in rows of three or four, all joined together. It is similar to dinner rolls but these are much softer than that.

What is Tangzhong or Water-Roux?

Tangzhong or roux method is a Japanese technique that is used to make soft and moist bread – dinner rolls, sandwich bread, and milk bread. In this method, a portion of flour and milk/water are mixed together and cooked on a low flame until a thick gel-like consistency is achieved. This mixture when cooled is added to the remaining ingredients and mixed together. It achieves two things:

  1. It makes the bread much softer and tender.
  2. It increases the shelf life of the bread. The bread remains soft and moist for longer compared to the ones that are made without tangzhong.
tangzhong

How does tangzhong technique work?

Tangzhong creates a structure that can hold more moisture throughout the process of kneading, baking, and cooling. It means that:

  1. The bread may rise higher because of more water/liquid, hence more steam resulting in more rise during baking.
  2. Since it has more moisture, the bread will ultimately be more soft and moist and remain softer for longer.

You can read more about it here.

Ladi Pav

Tips to bake it right

  1. Room Temperature: Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. It is very important in baking.
  2. Measure Accurately: Correctly measuring the ingredients is very important. Adding extra flour is one common mistake. Just fill your measuring cup with flour using a spoon and then level it off with a knife. Or, if you are into baking then I would recommend investing in a kitchen scale. It makes the work much easier.
  3. Sifting: Sift the flour. This ensures that there are no lumps in the dough.
  4. Over mixing: This is something that happens accidentally. Over mixing the dough makes these buns hard and not rise enough. If you are kneading by hand, knead until it becomes soft and smooth. If you are using a stand mixer, knead till it starts to leave the sides (not completely though). Touch the dough with your finger. If it doesn’t stick, that’s your clue to stop kneading.
  5. Milk Temperature: We add warm milk to activate the yeast. Make sure it is lukewarm – neither hot nor cold. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If it is cold, it won’t activate the yeast. You should be able to put your finger in the milk. That’s another clue!

Can we replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour?

This is the most common question. In order to make things healthier, we feel like replacing the refined flour (maida) with whole wheat flour. But it doesn’t work that easily. Baking involves science and maths too. Replacing one ingredient and keeping other things exactly the same won’t give you the same result or in fact, may ruin the bread.

Every flour has a different protein content which gives different results in bread baking. The higher the protein, more will be the gluten formation, and hence the higher will be the rise. You may think that whole wheat flour has more protein so it should have more rise. But whole wheat flour contains fibers and bran which cuts the gluten formation. This leads to low rise and denser and dry bread.

In order to achieve good results with whole wheat flour, try replacing 25% of the refined flour first and then gradually proceed. Whole wheat flour will need more moisture to soften the bran and hence will give good results in terms of softness and rise.

Can we replace toned milk (1.5% fat) with full-fat milk (3.5% fat)?

Just like whole wheat flour, different milk also has different protein and fat content. This difference plays a huge role in the texture and overall result and experience of the bread baking. I baked this recipe using toned milk that gave me a soft and moist bread. Also, it resulted in a higher rise in bread.

Switching toned milk with the full-fat milk affects the protein and fat content of the bread in a way that it becomes difficult to knead the dough. I tried this and it took me around 60 minutes to knead the dough using a stand mixer and eventually I had to dust some flour to make it come together. Though the dough looked good and proofed well. But the overall result was dry and hard bread.

What happens if we over-knead the dough?

Over-kneading is another mistake that we should avoid. It results in hard and dry bread. There are a couple of things that you can follow to make sure that your bread is well kneaded:

1) Window Pane Test: This name sounds funny but it is actually how it sounds. To check if your dough is done, take a piece of your dough and stretch it gently. Put it in front of the window or some light source in general and if you can see the light through the dough, it means it is done. If the dough is breaking while stretching, it means it doesn’t have enough gluten to hold it. Knead further till it passes the window-pane test.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

2) Bounce Back: Once the dough is done, shape it into a smooth dough ball and gently press it with your finger. If the dough bounces back (not completely though), it means it is perfectly done.

3) Non-Sticky Dough: The other two methods are the foolproof way to check if the dough is done but there is one more way to check if the dough is done. If you are using a stand mixer, you will notice after a while that the dough starts to come together (not sticking to the sides and starts to clean the bowl) and looks smoother. At the stage, touch the dough with your finger. If it sticks to your finger, it means you need to knead more. If it doesn’t stick, try the window-pane test to be sure.

Can we knead the dough with our hands instead of using the stand mixer?

You can surely knead the dough using your hands but I would not recommend it since this dough takes a lot of time to become smooth. It is a high hydration dough which means that it has a lot of moisture/liquid. Kneading using the slap and fold method is doable if you are ready to invest some time and your elbow grease.

On the plus side, you will have some good arm exercise if you knead with your hands 🙂

If you don’t have the stand mixer, knead on the kitchen counter. Do not be tempted to dust some flour since the dough will be quite sticky. After some time, the dough will develop gluten and start to come together. Knead until it becomes smooth.

How long does this bread stay fresh?

This bread can easily stay fresh, soft, and moist for up to 3 days. After 3 days, it will start to become a little dry.

Store this bread in an air-tight container to keep them soft. You can put them on the kitchen counter itself.

Ladi Pav Texture

When it is out of the oven, it will have a hard surface. But let it cool down completely. After cooling, the bread will become soft and spongy. Press it in between your hands and it will bounce back.

Is this recipe vegan?

No. I am afraid that this recipe is not vegan or plant-based. But I am working on a plant-based Ladi pav and it will be out soon. Just watch the space.

If you want some vegan recipes, here are a few options to try: Banana Walnut Muffins, Mini Mango Cheesecake, Vegan Fudgy Brownie.

Tools Needed

  1. Stand Mixer
  2. Kitchen Scale

More Bread Recipes

  1. Cinnamon Buns (Vegan)
  2. Braided Garlic Bread (video)
  3. 100% Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread (bread)

Now you are all ready to make these pillowy soft and moist ladi pav or dinner rolls at home, with full confidence. Grab all the ingredients, and let’s get baking.

If you like the recipe, please share the photo on Instagram and tag us too @thefearlesscooking. We love to see your recreation of our recipes.

Happy Cooking 🙂

Love from us

Richa & Jatin

Recipe

Pillow-y-Soft Ladi Pav (No Milk Powder & Eggless) | Tangzhong Method

Soft. Eggless. No Milk Powder.

Servings

16

Prep Time

50 min

Cook Time

25 min

Rest Time

2 hour

Ingredients

Tangzhog or Roux

  • 18 g All-Purpose Flour (Maida) (2 Tbsp)
  • 142 g Toned Milk (1.5% fat) (10 Tbsp)

Dry Ingredients

  • 412 g All Purpose Flour (Maida)
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 7 g Yeast
  • 1 tsp Salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 258 g Toned Milk (1.5% fat)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 56 g Butter (4 Tbsp)

Other

  • Milk to brush
  • Butter to brush

Steps

Tangzhong or Roux

  1. In a pan, add flour and milk. Whisk till they are combined with no lumps. 
  2. Place the pan over low heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly. Cook till it thickens and forms a gel-like consistency - 4-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer tangzhong in a bowl and let it cool completely.
    To speed up the process, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. But make sure it is at room temperature while mixing in the dough.

Dough (using machine)

  1. In a saucepan, heat milk and olive oil together until lukewarm.
    Do not make it hot, it will kill the yeast. Do not keep it cool, the yeast won't activate. Just enough warm that you should be able to put your finger in the liquid.
  2. In the stand mixer bowl, sift all-purpose flour. Then on one side of the bowl, add salt and on another side of the bowl, add sugar and yeast. Mix well using a spatula. 
    Yeast and salt should not come in direct contact.
  3. Add tangzhong and start the stand mixer on low speed. Let it get incorporated well. Then start pouring the warm milk and keep mixing on low.
  4. Increase the speed to high and knead the dough until it starts to come together. It takes around 15 minutes. 
    Stop in between to scrape the bowl from the sides, if needed.
  5. Once the dough starts to come together, start adding 1 Tbsp of the butter at a time. Let it incorporate well into the dough at low speed.  Once all the butter is added, knead the dough on high speed again till it starts to leave the sides and become smooth. 
    Overall time to knead the dough is around 25 minutes.
  6. First Proofing: Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover tightly (using a cling wrap). Place the bowl in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles in size. I prefer to put it inside my switched-off oven.

Second Proofing

  1. After an hour of proofing, take out the dough from the bowl. Knead it on the countertop for a couple of minutes to even out the surface. 
    Dust some flour, only if it is needed.
  2. Divide the dough ball into 4 pieces (almost equal) and then divide those 4 pieces further into 4 more equal pieces each. You will get a total of 16 pieces (weighing around 55-56 grams each).
    Use a kitchen scale for accurate measurements.
  3. Knead the small dough ball using your fingers to smoothen out the bottom part. Then flip and roll it in between the sides of both your palms. It will roll in an anti-clockwise motion. Do this till the top surface is smooth. The bottom part would be not so smooth but that is okay. 
    Dust some flour on your fingers while kneading only if it is needed.
  4. Place the balls on a greased baking tray with some space in between. Don't leave much space as we want them to proof and join together.
    Make rows of three or four depending on the size of your tray.
  5. Cover and let it proof for another 45 minutes or until they are doubled in size.
    They will rise, become bigger and join together.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C, top/bottom.
  2. Brush some milk over the proofed dough balls. Do it gently as you don't want to poke the balls. 
  3. Bake at 200 C for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is evenly brown. 
  4. Once done, take them out of the oven and brush some butter on top. Let them sit in the baking tray for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack. Your delicious and soft ladi pavs or dinner rolls are ready to be enjoyed.
    If you let them cool completely on the baking tray, they become soggy at the bottom because of the condensation of steam.
frequently asked questions

FAQs

What happens if we over-knead the bread dough?
+

Over-kneading is another mistake that we should avoid while baking bread. It results in hard and dry bread. While kneading, when the dough starts to come together, becomes non-sticky, and looks smoother, that is when you know that it is done. But to be sure, check with the window-pane test or roll the dough in a smooth dough ball and press gently with your finger. If it bounces back, it means it is done.


What happens if we dust extra dry flour in ladi pav recipe?
+

The dough to make soft and moist Ladi pav needs more moisture or high hydration. This results in the sticky and wet dough. We often get tempted to dust some flour to speed up the process of kneading but that results in dry and hard bread.


What is Tangzhong or Water roux method of bread baking?
+
Tangzhong or roux method is a Japanese technique that is used to make soft and moist bread – dinner rolls, sandwich bread, and milk bread. In this method, a portion of flour and milk/water are mixed together and cooked on a low flame until a thick gel-like consistency is achieved. This mixture when cooled is added to the remaining ingredients and mixed together. It achieves two things:
  1. It makes the bread much softer and tender.
  2. It increases the shelf life of the bread. The bread remains soft and moist for longer compared to the ones that are made without tangzhong.

What are the main ingredients to make ladi pav?
+

Ladi Pav is an extremely soft and moist milk bread that you don’t even need to toast. It is small in shape that comes in rows of three or four, all joined together. It is similar to dinner rolls but these are much softer than that. These are made of the following ingredients:

  1. All-purpose flour (Maida)
  2. Milk
  3. Butter
  4. Yeast
  5. Sugar & Salt

What is the purpose of adding olive oil in making ladi pav?
+

Ladi pav is often made with butter but when the bread cools down and comes to room temperature, it becomes slightly hard and dry because of the butter. Butter solidifies on cooling resulting in hard and dry bread. Olive oil on the other hand keeps the bread moist and soft on cooling or when it comes to room temperature.


Can we make tangzhong and use it later?
+

Yes. Of course. If you already prepared tangzhong but have no time to bake the bread, put it in the refrigerator. Before making the bread, take it out and let it come to room temperature.


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