Hokkaido milk bread – this by far the softest , milkiest bread that I have made ! Like the name suggests it is Japanese in origin. This is the soft spongy bread that you can find in many Asian stores and wait – this is what those super expensive magical breadcrumbs called panko is made from.
This is a perfect example of soft and airy bread made using the tangzhong method. This is not a lean bread, it is enriched with whole milk , egg and butter. It is not brioche , but dare I say it better than brioche ?.
You can always make it a little lighter by halving the amount of butter and using skim milk. It will be a delicious and soft bread still, but not Hokkaido Milk Bread ! Use whole milk for flavor and add at least some sugar and butter as an insurance.
If you are going to bake this bread, be forewarned – the most tantalizing milky yeasty aromas are going to fill the house . In other words don’t bake it if you are not in a sharing frame of mind.
This recipe starts with making the tangzhong – follow the link to know more about tangzhong.
I am going to follow my rule of 10% or less of flour in the recipe to use for tangzhong . Measure 5 times the weight of the flour in milk. Mix milk and flour and cook to 149°F to make the roux. Cool to room temperature .
While I love the process of kneading the bread , I do not always have the time or energy for it. the recipe has instructions for both hand kneading and machine kneading. If you don’t have a stand mixer, but is not up for kneading all the way, do it in batches – rest and dough after mixing to let the gluten develop naturally.
How long will it take
Since it is an enriched dough the rising times will be a longer. Expect to have close to 2 hours for first rise and 45 minutes for second. You could increase the amount of yeast to make it work faster , but that interferes with the flavor.
If planning ahead
The dough can be mixed and kept in the fridge for a slow rise for overnight. Take it out and let it come to room temperature before shaping. You could shape and refrigerate for a couple of hours too, but not any longer.
Usually these Japanese milk breads are shaped as in the picture. The shaping is a little involved , but the end results are beautiful .
Make sure that the pan is generously buttered or lined with parchment paper as in the picture. The last thing you need is the beautiful sculpted loaf to stick to the pans.
The pictures are self explanatory, but let me just recap –
Punch down the risen dough. Knead a few times in the bowl itself. Divide the dough into the number of loaves to make.
Generously butter a 9X5 loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
Take one portion and divide into 4 equal portions. Form each into a ball . Lightly flour a kneading surface . Take out one dough ball . Roll it out into a rectangle . Fold the opposite sides inwards as in the picture. Press and roll from one end to form a log. Pinch the seam to form a tight seal.
Transfer to the prepared pan , seam side down Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Neatly arrange the logs in the pan side by side. Cover and let it rise for 30 to 45 minutes .
By this time dough has risen significantly and is peeking out from the top of the loaf pan . Around 15 minutes into the final rise preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash . Transfer to the hot oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes . Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to wire rack cool completely, at least for an hour.
That is the side view of the loaf .. see the beautiful swirls ? I bet you can do better than mine 🙂 .
What flour should I use
I have made this with both bread flour and AP flour. Both variations yield good results. But I guess both these flours in the markets here have good protein content (11% or more). I am fairly certain that if your flour has about 10% protein content the bread will be beautiful.
What about butter
The recipe will say use unsalted butter. But for all practical purposes you can use either. The salted butters in the in the market will add negligible amounts of extra salt in this recipe. It will not interfere with flavor or rise of the dough. On the other hand if you have a gourmet butter with high salt content , do not substitute.
You can cut down the butter in the recipe by about half as well.
What would I like to do with these ? Just a pat of butter or pineapple jam and down the hatch it goes with chai !
Serve warm ! This bread will stay fresh for 3 days at room temperature provided you are not leaving it out, uncovered, in hot humid tropical heat. Slice and freeze in freezer bags for up to 3 months.
Here is the recipe for Hokkaido Milk Bread or Japanese Milk Bread !
If you make this , I would love to hear about it ! Leave a COMMENT, RATING , share a photo and TAG me on INSTAGRAM
Hokkaido Milk Bread
- 1/4 C Bread Flour (30g)
- 3/4 C Whole Milk (150g)
For the dough
- 3 + More C Bread Flour / AP Flour (370 g)
- 1/4 C Sugar (60g)
- 2 1/4 Tsp Active Dry Yeast (1 Pkt or 7g)
- 1 Tsp Fine Sea Salt (4g)
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 C Whole Milk (120g)
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (60g)
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tbsp Milk
- In a small heavy pot, whisk flour, milk together until smooth. Heat over medium-low flame and cook, stirring often, until thickened . When it’s ready, the spoon will leave tracks on the bottom of the pot. Transfer into a bowl and tightly cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature . Warm the milk to 110° F or just warm to touch. Mix in 1 tbsp sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top . Set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to become active.
- Take the flour in a big bowl . Make a well in the middle add the cooled tangzhong ,yeast, sugar and the beaten egg . Stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is moistened .Cover with a plastic wrap or a wet towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes .
- Uncover , transfer to a lightly floured surface . Sprinkle the salt on top and knead gently for 5 minutes . Add a couple of tablespoons more of the flour if the dough is too sticky. Add the softened butter 1 tablespoons at a time and knead gently to incorporate well. As you need the dough becomes very soft and pliable . Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl. cover and let it rise for an hour or so till doubled in volume .
In the mixer
- Take most of the flour in the stand mixer's bowl. Add the egg , activated yeast, and tangzhong to it. Fit the paddle attachment and set the machine to the lowest (stir) and mix for about 1 minute until all the flour is moistened.
- Change to the dough hook and knead for 1 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add the remaining flour slowly while kneading. Once the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (1 to 2 minutes) add the softened butter and sugar and salt. Keep kneading for 3 to 4 more minutes until the dough looks glossy. It should feel slightly warm and supple when touched. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl. cover and let it rise for an hour or so till doubled in volume .
- Generously butter the bread pan or line it with parchment paper.Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal size portions . Form each portion into a ball.
- Working with one ball at a time . Roll it out into rectangle . Fold the opposite sides quarter way in to meet at the middle . Roll this from one end to form a log . Pinch to close . Transfer the log into the buttered bread pan seam side down . Repeat with the other balls and arrange logs neatly in the pan .Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm place , until it has more than doubled and peeking out over the top of the pan .
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF(175ºC) . Make the egg wash by mixing the egg and milk and beating well .Brush the top of the bread with egg wash and transfer to the preheated oven .Bake for 30 to 40 minutes . Check and adjust temperature at 25 minutes to prevent over browning .
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 1 hr before slicing .
- The recipe can be doubled or tripped to adjust to your needs.
- The loaf will rise taller on 8 X 4 pan but shorter pans are not recommended.
Originaly Publised Nov 18, 2015. Edited for content and images.