Hokkaido Milk Bread is a Japanese-style bread that’s incredibly soft and fluffy, subtly sweet and beautifully-buttery.
This pull-apart bread is great for making sandwiches, or just enjoying by itself with a nice warm cup of green tea.
Of course — there is a secret behind its softness. It’s called the “Tangzhong” method, which originated from China and is frequently used to create this sort of texture. This technique requires just two ingredients — bread flour and water in a 1:5 ratio, cooked into a roux — that gelatinizes the starch in the flour. This keeps the moisture inside the bread, making it softer and acting almost as a natural preservative.
This recipe here will give you a subtly-sweet loaf, but if you’re craving something more similar to sweet bread, you’re welcome to adjust the sugar level. Otherwise, add some butter or jam to lift up this pillowy loaf!
- Tangzhong: 15 g bread flour, 75 g water
- Bread flour: 260g
- Active dry yeast: 5g
- Caster sugar: 45g (if using artificial sweetener: 1/4 cup)
- Can be modified depending on how sweet you want it; this here gives a very subtly sweet taste.
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Milk: 75g
- Egg: 1, beaten, at room temperature
- Condensed Milk Powder: 25g
- Softened butter (unsalted): 35g
- Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbs water)
- To create the tangzhong: Add the flour and water into a saucepan. Stir over low heat, until the flour is fully dissolved.
- Continue stirring until the mixture starts to thicken up (slightly thicker than gravy-consistency).
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Add all ingredients (including tangzhong) except butter into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Mix at low speed until dough begins to form (~2 min).
- Scrape down the sides, and add butter.
- Mix at medium speed for about 10 minutes. Check to see the dough passes the windowpane test. [Note: If the dough can be stretched without breaking, your gluten is well-developed. Onto the next step!]
- Place dough into a lightly-oiled bowl, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour (until dough has doubled in size).
- After the first proof, divide the dough into four pieces.
- Shape each piece into a letterfold roll. [Note: First, create a rectangle. Then, fold the left side halfway, and the cover it with the right side. Then, flatten out into a long rectangle and tightly roll up.]
- Place the four rolls into a lightly-oiled loaf pan.
- Proof again for about 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat over to 350F.
- Wash the rolls with the egg wash to get the shiny, golden finish.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. [Note: Usually, I cover the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent loaf from browning too much about halfway through.]
- Enjoy with a nice warm cup of tea!
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