Chocolate marble swirl bread (Tangzhong method)

chocolate swirl marble bread tangzhong2

I don’t usually bake Asian style breads because I love my crusty loaves. However, this slightly sweet, fluffy swirl bread is actually pretty good.

For those of you who prefer a sweet, light and fluffy Asian style bread, I would highly recommend you to try the Tang zhong (汤种) method. It involves cooking a water roux paste to 65 degrees celcius, with a ratio of 1:5, flour to water. I think this method really helps to produce a softer, fluffier bread without using any artificial enhancers.

marble swirl bread loaf

I haven’t been baking breads for a long time and this week, I decided to bake some Japanese inspired marble swirl bread. I baked this twice – chocolate the first time and matcha the second time. Both has their merits. I can’t say which I prefer.

I had the chocolate marble swirl bread with Nutella and the matcha one with raspberry jam. I love seeing the swirls on the bread when I wake up in the morning; it makes a happy breakfast food.

The recipe is pretty straight forward though it may be a little time consuming but it is no different from all other breads. The toughest part is probably getting nice swirls on the bread.

While I’m still far from getting it perfect, I’ve learnt that the key is to fold and roll the dough out thin as thin as you can. The dough is pretty elastic so it does take some strong arms and patience to get there.

And even if you don’t get nice swirls, I think the taste would more than make up for your efforts.

matcha swirl bread tangzhong

bread dough prove

Recipe: Marble swirl bread (Chocolate or matcha)
Makes one loaf (in a 7 inch loaf pan)
Adapted from Alex Goh’s Magic bread book

This is one of those Japanese inspired bread recipe, one that produces fluffy and light texture without the use of bread improvers. It uses the Tang zhong method, a popular method for making Asian breads. It is believed that this method produces a softer and more fluffy loaf.

For those who are new to this, the Tang zhong/water roux method helps to develop some of the gluten when you cook the roux to  65 degrees celcius.

Water-roux paste or Tang zhong (makes enough for 2 loaves)
50g bread flour
250ml water

Bread dough:
300g bread flour
6g instant dry yeast
30g sugar
4g salt
24g milk powder
75g roux paste/Tangzhong
120ml full-cream milk (or substitute half cream, half skimmed milk)
30g unsalted butter

Chocolate paste (or you can make a matcha paste by replacing the cocoa powder with matcha powder):
8g dutch-processed cocoa powder
8ml water
8g sugar

Egg wash:
an egg yolk
a splash of milk
a pinch of salt


1. Prepare the tangzhong/roux paste: Add flour and water into a saucepan and cooking over low fire. Stir to a smooth and thickened paste and when the temperature reaches 65ºC, remove it from the pan to cool to room temperature. You can make this a day before and store covered in the refrigerator.

2. Prepare the bread dough: Place all the bread dough ingredients into a mixer bowl except the milk and the butter.  Using a dough hook, mix it at low speed. Gradually add in the milk until a soft dough is form. Then, run the mixer for 10 minutes at speed 2.

3. When the dough comes together, start adding the cubed butter and allow butter to be mixed into the dough at low speed. The dough should be smooth, elastic at this stage.

4. Divide the dough into two (3/4 for one portion and 1/4 for the other portion). Knead in the chocolate/matcha paste for the smaller portion until well-incorporated and evenly mixed.

4. Round the two doughs to form balls. Place each of the doughs into separate floured bowls. Cover the bowls with cling wrap. Place it in a warm and dark corner of your kitchen. I like to use my (turned-off) oven for this purpose. Let the dough ferment for about 1 hr or until about double in size.

5. Take the dough out of the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock back the air bubbles (by folding the dough over one-third back onto itself). Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.

6. Shaping the dough: Using a rolling pin, roll out the chocolate/matcha dough into a rectangle, approximately 16 by 12cm. Then, roll out the plain dough into a rectangle, approximately 35 by 14cm. Place the chocolate dough in the center of the rolled out plain dough. Fold the plain dough, from both ends towards the center,  to enclose the chocolate dough.

7. Roll out this dough lengthwise into a neat rectangle, about 1cm in thickness. Fold the dough from both ends towards the center like before. Then, fold over another time. Roll it out lengthwise again, until about 1 cm in thickness.

8. Roll the dough up  like you would with a swiss roll. It should look like a long log.

rolling out marble swirl bread dough

9. Line a 7 inch non-stick loaf pan with baking parchment. Cut the log up into three portions. Line the bread dough, side by side, in the  loaf pan.

10. Prove the dough in a dark, warm place in your kitchen for about 1- 1.5hrs until about double in size.

11. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Mix the egg wash and brush the top of the bread dough twice. Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. You can cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil mid-way if the bread starts turn too dark.

chocolate swirl marble bread tangzhong

About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
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15 Responses to Chocolate marble swirl bread (Tangzhong method)

  1. health advocation says:

    wow, this bread looks delicious!

  2. Gorgeous and I love the step by step process you have included might give this one a go. I quite like the matcha bread but I know my boys would prefer the chocolate. Take care, BAM

    • Let me know if you do try this bread..

      Ah..yeah chocolate is always a perennial favourite..and matcha is kinda more subtle but elegant.. I find it hard to pick between the two!

  3. Loving this bread my friend, the swirls are gorgeous 😀


  4. Have never seen this method before – great pictures too, they really help.

  5. Didn’t these turn out just gorgeous?! I’ve never seen a roux used like this before, what a cool recipe! xx

    • Am very happy with how the bread turned out too!

      I know..when I first read about this method..I was very skeptical. Roux to make bread? Really goes against all that I know of bread making.

      but it works if you like soft, fluffy bread. 😉

  6. Divine! You got the most distinct, beautiful swirls in it Jo! 😀

  7. I’ve wanted to try this technique for years (yes, years!) but I find it so intimidating. You just can’t argue with the results though… Those swirls are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a loaf of bread!

    • Thanks Hannah! It took me awhile before I tried this method too.

      I would say that it only sounds intimidating but it’s not, really. You’ve made so many more difficult things..

  8. Pingback: Chocolate marble bread – Not quite Le Cordon Bleu

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