Stay-soft white, rye and wholemeal milk loaf

Stay-soft white, rye and wholemeal milk loaf


fits one BakeryBits 2lb loaf tin

for the cooked rye mix

180g cold water
70g Matthew's Dark Rye Wholemeal flour

for the dough

5g LeSaffre DCL Instant Dried Yeast fast-action yeast
30g warm water
15g honey
70g milk, any sort
280g strong white flour
50g wholemeal flour
6g salt
20g unsalted butter, softened

This is an easy bread to make by hand that stays very soft for days without turning crumbly, making it for me a perfect sandwich loaf. For the flour I used 2/3rds roller-milled white flour and 1/3rd stoneground rye and wholemeal which gives you a great flavour and higher fibre than a regular white flour, but still keeps it light-textured. If you're looking for a Japanese-style extra-soft white loaf we have one here, designed for heavy-duty machine mixing.

The recipe uses a kind of very thick gruel – an old word for a soup of starch and water simmered until thick – as the base, a little bit like adding leftover porridge to a bread dough. Many countries still have these cooked starch mixtures as part of their eating: I’ve enjoyed rye flour soup for breakfast in Finland cooked by legendary chef Sasu Laukkonen with sour cream, honey and berries, and always looked forward to 'rice soup' (often called congee) made with soft-cooked rice in many Chinese and SE Asian kitchens. Giving a similar result to adding mashed potato to bread, like bakers used to do in England in the 1800s, if you add this cooked starch mixture to bread dough you get a very soft texture that stays “just-like-fresh” for days. In the early 2000s this method once again became popular with online bakers, possibly related to a 1950s Japanese baker's method of adding a water roux to his milk bread, and among Mandarin Chinese speakers a slightly more complex but easier to manage version for home bakers called 湯種 Tāng zhǒng (pronounced tung-jong) excited bakers the world over.

Here I’ve kept it simple, using a thickish cooked rye flour mix at the start, and combined it with white flour and dash of wholemeal for the dough. The recipe perfectly fits our excellent Professional Quality Traditional 2lb Loaf Pan, double coated with a tough (Whitford’s Skandia Xtreme) non-stick coating to make it easier to clean and bake with. Do get one of our tins and try this recipe, it’s a great everyday bread to have at home. 


Make the cooked rye mix by whisking the cold water and rye flour together in a saucepan. Then stir it over a medium heat until it thickens and almost boils. Spoon it into a large mixing bowl, cover and leave until barely warm.

Meanwhile in a smaller bowl whisk together the yeast and warm water until dissolved. Stir in the honey and milk. Then whisk this into the warm cooked rye mixture until smooth. Add the strong white flour, wholemeal flour and salt and mix everything together to a smooth dough. Cover the bowl, leave for 10 minutes then add the butter in small pieces and knead again until smooth.

Cover the bowl and leave somewhere warm for about an hour until doubled in volume. Then remove the dough from the bowl and on a floured surface. Now you can simply pat the dough out into a rectangle, roll it up like a scroll, place it seam-side down in the tin and leave it to rise.

Or there's another way: in Japan and SE Asia there’s a rolling technique for tin sandwich loaves that has become very popular because it produces a neat looking bread and ensures the shaping is tight and well-rounded. This is how you do it.

Divide it into three equal pieces (about 225g each). Roll each piece out about 25cm long and about 15cm wide, fold each long side inward so the strip is about 8cm wide then roll it up tightly into a scroll. Place the scroll with the coiled ends facing each long side of the tin, then repeat with the remaining dough pieces. You can pre-shape the dough into balls beforehand, then leave them covered under plastic for 30 minute before rolling out, as this gives a neater finish but takes slightly longer.

When the loaf has risen somewhere between half and double in the tin, heat the oven to 160C fan. Brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg, if you like, and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and just coming away from the sides of the tin. Remove the loaf from the oven and the tin, place the loaf on a tray and quickly return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to firm the outer crust. Then remove again from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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