I have a soft spot for good bread. There’s just something about fluffy bread right? I’ve finally baked one of my favorite breads at home and I’m so excited to share it with you. This is a Japanese Asian white bread recipe also known as Hokkaido Milk bread. It has only 8 ingredients. Now you don’t have to go to the Asian bakery and buy milk bread, you can make it yourself! Baking bread is actually pretty fun and rewarding and this iis my favorite sandwich bread hands down.
Fresh Bread Bread Is So Good! It may seem like a daunting task to make bread from scratch, but it’s actually not very difficult and quite honestly I feel so accomplished after baking. My kids love to help and if you try making bread yourself, you won’t believe how easy it is to make fresh bread! I grew up eating this bread and can literally eat it by itself, with some type of spread, or as a roll for a sandwich. You won’t believe how soft and fluffy it is until you’ve tried it. If I were to choose between bread form the states vs. Asian bread, I would choose milk bread in a heartbeat. It may be because it’s what I’m used to, but please give it a try, I don’t think you’ll have any regrets.
Why This Recipe Works
- Minimal Ingredients You only need a few ingredients to make this. Just 8 ingredients, most you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator.
- Longer Shelf Life – The method below really does extend the shelf life of this bread. It keeps it fluffy and soft much longer than traditional breads.
How to Make It
- Preheat oven 350F and grease a loaf pan, Whisk 2 tbs of flour with 6 tbs of water, over low heat, for 2 minutes or until the tangzhong has thickened. Set aside.
- In small bowl pour the yeast and sugar over the warm milk. Let sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should began activating.
- In a large bowl or mixing bowl, stir the yeast mixture is bubbly into the tangzhong until all components are dissolved.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients and knead with dough hook 6-7 minutes, until dough is smooth.
- Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a wet hand towel and proof for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- When dough is properly proofed, remove from bowl and cut into 3 equal portions.
- Roll each portion into a rectangle and fold the ends over each other. The dough may also be rolled up like a cinnamon roll.
- Place dough seam side down into greased loaf pan. Proof again for another 10 minutes or until dough has risen to the top of the loaf pan, then brush with egg. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before unpanning.
Step By Step Instructions
First, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan. Gather your 2.5 tablespoons of Bread Flour and an additional 2 tbs., 6 tablespoons of Water, 1 ½ tbs Sugar, ½ cup Luke Warm Milk, 1 packet Active Dry Yeast (~2tsp), 2 tbs Melted Butter, 1 tsp Salt, and 2 eggs.
Next, it’s time to learn the tangzhong method. It’s a Japanese technique which makes bread incredibly soft and makes it last longer. It all starts by using a small amount of flour and water until it thickens, you’re essentially making a roux or a thick gelatinous mix. Around 150F the starches in the flour will gelatinize. This procedure is what makes these dinner rolls especially fluffy!
Start by whisking 2 tablespoons of bread flour with 6 tablespoons of water, over low heat, for 2 minutes or until the tangzhong (the flour and water) thickens. If you want to be precise, use a food thermometer to check until it reaches 150F. It happens quickly. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Next, in a small bowl, pour the yeast and sugar over the warm milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should began activating. You’ll know if it’s active when the liquid starts bubbling. I always like to test my yeast at the beginning to make sure I don’t waste time making bread that doesn’t rise. This is truly the most challenging part of any bread recipe as a beginner. Yeast is very fickle. You want your milk to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not hot enough to kill it. I’ve added some easy tips below in the FAQ section if you’re new to using yeast.
Then, in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast mixture until it is bubbly into the tangzhong (the flour and water mixture) until it has dissolved.
Then you’ll want to mix in the remaining ingredients and knead it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 6-7 minutes. If you’d like a sweeter bread add two tablespoons of sugar here. You may also knead it by hand for 12-15 minutes, if you don’t have a mixer.
You’ll know when the it’s kneaded enough when it looks smooth and it starts to come away from the bowl and spring back when poked with your finger. If it isn’t springy, knead for a few more minutes and try again. It should look like this, nice and smooth.
Next, it’s time to proof the dough. Proofing is just a fancy way to say let the dough rest and allow it to rise before baking. Roll the dough into a ball and place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover it with a wet hand towel.
You’ll want to go grab a book now or watch a show so you can allow it to rise and proof for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
When dough is properly proofed, remove from bowl and cut into 3 equal pieces.
Next flatten each dough piece with a rolling pin.
Then you’ll want to roll each portion into a rectangle and fold the ends over each other. You may also shape the dough and roll it up like a cinnamon roll.
Place dough seam side down into greased loaf pan.
Proof again for another 10 minutes to 15 minutes or until the dough has risen to the top of the loaf pan. Your dough should now have risen 3x it’s original. Then brush on the egg wash, making sure your egg wash is room temperature not cold.
Lastly, bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Make sure to allow it to cool before removing it from the pan and place it on a wire rack if desired.
Cook’s Tips To Make Tangzhong Bread a Success
- Test out your yeast and make sure it’s not dead. In case you didn’t know, yeast is actually a single cell organism and it can expire. You don’t want to go through an entire recipe process and find out your dough won’t rise because of yeast that’s no good.
- Make sure your temperature for the milk is not too hot or not too cold. A food thermometer or candy thermometer comes in handy.
- You’ll know when the tangzhong is ready when the slurry leaves streaks in the pan when scraped with a whisk. It should remain very white not tan.
- You can use an oven as proofer by setting the temperature to 180 degrees F and placing a small oven safe bowl of water inside.
- All ovens are not created equal, if bread is browning too quickly in your oven when baking, cover it with foil for the last 10 or so minutes.
- Your dough has had enough kneading when it does not sharply tear when stretched.\
- All-purpose flour may be substituted for Bread Flour, but I really do prefer bread flour for this recipe. Details below.
- Oat milk may be substituted for dairy milk.
- Instant yeast is not the same as active yeast. To compare, instant dry yeast does not need to be proofed in warm water. You can directly add it to dry ingredients like flour and salt. This recipe calls for active yeast!
- Why did my dough for my milk bread not rise?
- Your yeast is no longer active, either it’s expired or simply has just gone bad. Always check to see if it’s active before baking so you don’t waste a batch.
- Your liquid, in this case milk is either too hot or too cold.
- You didn’t wait long enough
- The environment is too cold.
- How do I know if the milk is the right temperature?
- The milk for activating the yeast should be around body temperature. A simple test is to feel the temp with your finger. It should feel neutral. It it’s too warm it will kill the yeast. If it’s too cold it will not activate the yeast.
- Can I skip the Tangzhong method?
- I would not. It really does make this bread soft and also extends its shelf life.
- Can I make the dough ahead?
- Yes, sometimes I don’t have all the time during the day to make this in its full glory. You can refrigerate your dough overnight. Just place the dough into the greased bowl. Make sure you plastic wrap and refrigerate. Do not leave it out on the counter, your cold refrigerator will slow down the rising.
- Can you freeze these?
- This recipe is best fresh. But, you may freeze it. Place in an air tight container once it’s cool. Freeze and reheat it when ready to eat.
- How long will it keep on the counter?
- You can happily keep them on the counter for 3-4 days. I would make sure to wrap it in a plastic wrap. The method we used above will help it remain soft and fluffy much longer than other breads.
- Can I use all purpose flour instead of bread flour?
- Yes, the bread will be more soft as opposed to more chewy. Not a huge difference, but I do like bread flour if you can find it.
Looking for more baking recipe ideas? Try These:
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This homemade milk bread is one of the fluffiest you'll ever try! Made with just 8 ingredients you won't resist eating the entire batch.
- 2 1/2 cups Bread Flour + 2 Tbs.
- 6 tbs Water
- 1 ½ tbs Sugar
- ½ cup Luke Warm Milk
- 1 packet Active Dry Yeast ~2tsp
- 2 tbs Melted Butter
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 Egg 1 egg for egg wash
- 2 tbs. sugar optional, if you like a sweeter bread
Preheat oven 350F and grease a loaf pan.
Start by whisking the 2 tbs of flour with 6 tbs of water, over low heat, for 2 minutes or until the tangzhong has become thickened. It happens quickly. Set aside to cool.
In small bowl pour the yeast and sugar over the warm milk. Let sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should began activating.
In a large bowl or mixing bowl, stir the yeast mixture is bubbly into the tangzhong until all components are dissolved.
Mix in the remaining ingredients and knead with dough hook 6-7 minutes (or by hand for 12-15 minutes). This is when you would add the sugar if desired. When the dough has been kneaded thoroughly it should be smooth, start to come away from the bowl and spring back when poked with a finger. If it isn’t springy knead for a few more minutes and try again
Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a wet hand towel and proof for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
When dough is properly proofed, remove from bowl and cut into 3 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a rectangle and fold the ends over each other. The dough may also be rolled up like a cinnamon roll.
Place dough seam side down into greased loaf pan.
Proof again for another 10 minutes or until dough has risen to the top of the loaf pan, then brush with egg.
Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before unpanning.