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How To Make The Softest Spongiest Milk Bread – The Hokkaido or Japanese Milk Bread

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.

Hokkaido Milk Bread Inside view
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 .

Hokkaido Milk Bread Dough
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.

Shaping Hokkaido Milk Bread

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.

Hokkaido Milk Bread Side View


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.

Hokkaido Milk Bread

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 Inside view

Hokkaido Milk Bread

By Syama
Hokkaido Milk bread  or  Japanese  milk bread  is  one  of the  softest   and  freshest tasting  milk  bread   ever.  This  has a  very  nice  oven  spring  and   the   bread  is  very spongy  and  tastes  incredible  even  when toasted  plain . It  uses  the tangzhong  method to  enhance the  bread's  softness  and   keeping  qualities. 
4.24 from 17 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
In active Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Course Bread
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 1 9X5 Loaf


For Tangzhong

  • 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)

Egg wash

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tbsp Milk


Make Tangzhong

  • 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 Dough

  • 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.

By Hand

  • 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. 

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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Hokkaido Milk Bread or Japanese Milk Bread
Originaly  Publised  Nov 18, 2015.  Edited for  content  and   images. 

Recipe Rating


Sunday 23rd of July 2023

I was excited as the dough turned out really nicely, and rose beautifully. But it baked to get really strange, it took forever to get done, and in the end it was very heavy and dense. And it tasted more like what I would use as a fruit cake base than bread. It made nice French toast but I don't think I'll repeat the experiment. (Wrong flour? Wrong temperature? Who knows).


Friday 25th of November 2022

If you use the buttons (1X, 2X, 3X) to double or triple the recipe, be aware that it only multiplies the measurements, not the gram weights. So if you bake by grams, you have to do the math yourself.


Wednesday 29th of December 2021

LOVE this recipe. I was listening to an Aikido master on a podcast that explained this Tangzhong method of bread making and searched for a recipe. I came across your post. Thank you so much. The main difference in your recipe from the one I got from my mother/grandmother is the Tangzhong (roux). This recipe rose twice what my usual recipe does....and it is flavorful and soft. I did not use weight measurements. I used USA measures in cups. I doubled your recipe because I wanted more bread. I started with 5 cups AP flour in my stand mixer, added all the ingredients as you suggested, reserving last cup of flour to add as I needed it. I did use it all. Thank you. God bless you.


Tuesday 25th of May 2021

thanks for this amazing recipe! I just made these and they turned out super soft and fluffy!!


Sunday 16th of May 2021

Absolutely LOVE this bread! My family's favourite! Thank you :)