Hokkaido Milk Bread

This  is the  softest  milkiest  bread  I have  made  at  home  so far ,  something  a  bread baker’s  dreams  are  made of . A   perfect  example  of  soft   and  airy  bread  made by the Tangzhong  method  . By no means  it is a lean  bread.   Enriched   with   whole  milk ,  egg  and  butter,  it is  an indulgence ,   more like a Brioche .  But  you  can always make it a little  lighter  by   halving  the  amount  of  butter  and   using  skim milk ,   and  still have a  light  and  soft bread . without  compromising   the  lightness of  the   bread .

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  ….In   this  recipe I am  going  to use  400 gm  (3 C) bread flour for  this bread  .   I am   going  to follow   my rule of 10% or  less  of  flour  being  used  for  to make  Tangzhong .  Measure 30 gm  ( roughly 1/4C)  flour ,  mix with  150  ml of   milk  (3/4 C).  Heat  this  slurry to  149 degree F   to make  the   roux .  Click  here  for  detailed  instructions  on how  to make  Tangzhong .  Cool   it   to  room  temperature .
While  I love  the  process  of   kneading  the   bread ,  I do not  always  have  the  time  or  energy for  it .   What  I have  found after   countless  loaves is  that one  can  achieve the same  results  by letting  the   dough   rest   and  the  gluten  to develop  naturally . This   lets  me   do   the  minimal  kneading    with  hand   while   still  being  able  to   develop  the  gluten  network .  Of   course  there  is nothing   stopping  you  from using  the stand mixer  .
If   using  active  dry  yeast   activate  the  yeast  in  ½ c  milk   mixed   with  1  tbsp  sugar . Warm  the  milk to 110  degree F   ,  stir in the sugar . Sprinkle  the   yeast on top  and wait for 5 to 10 minutes   to see it  froth . Beat the  egg  well  in a small bowl .    Set aside .

Take a  big  bowl  ,   one  that is  convenient   enough to  stir  everything in . Take the  measured flour  in  the   bowl .  Make  a  well in the   center put  the  cooled  Tangzhong , the   sugar , yeast  mixture (or  yeast  and   milk )and   egg .  Using   a   spoon   gently mix  the   flour  into  the  wet  ingredients . If  the  mixture  is  too  dry  and   is  not   coming  together  add  more milk in  1 tablespoon   at a  time .   This  is  highly unlikely  though   as  the   dough  mentioned   here   itself  is  very  sticky . Once  all the  flour  is  mixed in cover  and  let  sit  for  20 mins .

I usually   reserve   1  teaspoon of  the   egg mixture .  This I mix   with   2  tbsp of   milk  and   use  to  brush the   top of  the   bread   later.

After  20 mins  turn the  dough out  onto a   lightly floured   kneading  (flat) surface .   Knead  gently   for  five  minutes .   The   dough  will be  sticky .  Do not  add   extra    flour at   this  time  .   If  after   few  minutes  of   gentle  kneading  if the   dough   is  still   very sticky add   flour   1  tbsp at a  time  up to a   quarter   cup .   Please   remember    this   will be  a  soft   dough .    Once  the   dough  comes  together  in a  ball   add  the    butter  in   1  tbsps   at a   time  . Knead in  the   butter    after   each  addition .  You  will notice  a  marked  difference  in the   dough .  Knead  enough  just  to  incorporate  the   butter .   Do not   over  knead .  The   dough   will be   very soft  and  pliable .  Gather the  dough into a  ball  and     transfer  to a  well  buttered  (oiled) bowl  for  proofing .   Cover  with a  damp  towel or  plastic   wrap . Leave  the  dough  undisturbed  for  an  hour  to  2  till  doubled in volume .  Remember  here  that the  ambient   temperature  plays a  big  part  in  how  the   dough   rises . If the  room temperature  is  on the  cooler   side keep the  dough   on a  warm place  to rise .

Once  the  dough has  doubled in volume   punch the   dough  down .  Knead a few  times in the bowl  itself .  Divide the   dough  into 4  portions .  Form  each into a   ball .  You can  use  the  same  bowl  or    another   well  greased one . Generously butter a 9X5 loaf  pan  or  the  pan for  baking the   bread .  Lightly   flour  a  kneading  surface .   Take  out  one  dough ball . Roll it out into a  rectangle . Fold 2 opposite  sides inwards as  in the  picture . Roll to form a  log. Pinch  the  end 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 degree F . 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 a  wire  rack  cool  completely ,  at  least  for an  hour .


Slice  , serve  with your  favorite jelly  jam or  any way you like it .


Hokkaido Milk Bread

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 1 9X5 Loaf

Hokkaido Milk Bread


For Tangzhong
Bread Flour - 30 gms (1/4C )
Whole Milk - 150 gms (3/4C)
For the dough
Bread Flour - 370 gms (3C)
Sugar - 60 gms (1/4 C)
Active Dry Yeast - 7 gm (2Tsp)
Salt - 4gm (1Tsp )
Egg - 1
Whole Milk - 120 gms (½ C)
Unsalted Butter - 60 gms (4Tbsp)
Egg wash
Egg - 1
Milk - 2 Tbsp


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 .Activate the yeast with milk and 1Tbsp sugar .

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 soft 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 .

Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal size portions . Form each portion into a ball . Butter the bread pan generously .

Working with one ball at a time . Roll it out into rectangle . Fold the 2 long 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 .


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