Japanese milk bread is unlike any other bread out there. Extremely soft, fluffy and flakey texture that is a product of the tangzhong method. The first time I tried making it I failed terribly, but after a few tweaks to the recipe it is now perfect. I will be going through two ways to make this recipe. One will be to make the perfect dinner rolls, and the other will be to make the softest loaf of bread.
Japanese milk bread 2 ways: dinner rolls vs loaf
The only difference between how the dinner rolls are made vs a loaf is in the second proofing portion. You will need to portion them into different weights and also shape them differently.
Portions: For dinner rolls we will separate the dough into 75g pieces.
Shaping: After you have separated them into 75g pieces, you will want to shape them into balls, making sure you create surface tension so that they are smooth looking.
Here is the video for dinner roll method:
Portions: For the loaf method, you will need to separate our dough into three equal pieces which will end up being about 250g.
Shaping: After you have separated the dough into 3 equal pieces, first flatten into a rectangle, then fold the long ends towards the middle, and finally roll it up from the short side. Make sure to seal and tuck the dough on the bottom. This will create a thick roll of dough which we place into our loaf pan to proof in.
Here is the video for our loaf method:
Key steps and ingredients for Japanese milk bread
Tangzhong method: The tangzhong method uses flour, water, and milk, cooked down into a paste like substance which is then added as a dough ingredient. You want to cook it down until you can pick all of it up in a spoon. What this does is make the bread softer and more springy. This is an essential step and you definitely don’t want to skip it. Even after a few days, my bread is still really soft and springy.
Active dry yeast/instant yeast: With active dry yeast you will need to activate it in lukewarm before using. Alternatively, you can use instant yeast which does not require any activating. However, I would still add the 2 tbsp of water to maintain hydration level.
Softened butter: Make sure your butter is softened, not melted and be patient when mixing the butter in. When you initially try to add the butter, the dough will break, but after a couple minutes, you will see the butter incorporate into the dough better.
Japanese Milk Bread
- 2 tbsp flour 20g
- 2 tbsp water 27g
- 4½ tbsp milk 60g
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast or instant yeast 10g
- 2 tbsp lukewarm water 20g
- Yeast mixture
- 2⅓ cup AP flour 380g
- ¼ cup sugar 60g
- 1 tsp salt 3g
- ½ cup milk 130g
- 1 large egg
- 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
- Add the active dry yeast into the lukewarm water, mix and allow to sit for 10 minutes. You know the yeast is active if it blooms. If you are using instant yeast, skip this step.1 tbsp active dry yeast or instant yeast, 2 tbsp lukewarm water
- In a saucepan, add the tangzhong ingredients and cook, continuing to stir over low heat until a paste forms. Should be thick and you will be able to pick all of it up with a spoon.2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water, 4½ tbsp milk
- Add your yeast mixture and tangzhong along with the remaining dough ingredients except for the softened butter in a stand mixer bowl. If you are using instant yeast, add the yeast and water in at this stage as well. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until a proper dough forms.Tangzhong, Yeast mixture, 2⅓ cup AP flour, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, ½ cup milk, 1 large egg
- Add your softened butter, 1 tbsp at a time and mix on medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is very smooth. If your dough is too sticky, add more flour 1 tbsp at a time until manageable.3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
- Allow your dough to proof in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
Dinner roll method
- Portion the dough into 75g pieces and place into a 9 inch cake pan giving them 1cm of space. When shaping, you want to make sure to form surface tension on the dough balls to make sure they come out looking smooth. Allow it to rest another 1 hour
- Brush with egg wash which is just 1 beaten egg and bake in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes.
- Top with garlic butter and enjoy.
- Separate your dough into 3 equal pieces, it should be about 250g each.
- Flatten each piece into a rectangle.
- Fold the long sides towards the middle.
- Roll it up and seal the edge towards the bottom.
- Place into an oiled 9 inch loaf pan leaving 1 inch of space between each roll.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 1 hour.
- Brush with egg wash which is just 1 egg.
- Bake 350F for 25-30 minutes. I like to immediately brush with butter and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into.
If you enjoyed this, check out some more bread recipes here: