This Hokkaido Milk Loaf is the fluffliest and lightest bread you can ever come across! It's incredibly easy to make and it's great at any time of day!
I've been dying to share this Japanese milk bread recipe with you! And you know why? Because this is the most delicious fluffy, soft white bread you'll ever taste! This slightly sweet, melt-in-your mouth bread will become your all-time favourite bread and will disappear in no time, so be sure to make a double batch!
What Makes this Bread so Great?
This bread is just amazing? Why? Well, it's
- fluffy, soft, and light
- slightly sweet
- great at any time of day
- milky in taste
- and it's really easy to make!
What is Hokkaido Milk Bread?
Hokkaido Milk Bread or Japanese Milk Bread is a type of bread with an extremely soft texture. The softness of the bread is achieved by a technique known as "Tangzhong", which is prepared and mixed into the bread dough. The bread is slightly sweet and chewy but also soft and tender. It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish to accompany a meal.
What is Tangzhong?
Tangzhong, or water roux, is a type of bread starter made by using flour, water, and milk. Its cooked on medium heat until it forms a paste, then allowed to cool, and incorporated into the bread dough. Tangzhong is quite easy to make but its a very important step when making milk bread as it is responsible for the fluffiness of the bread :). This Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe uses the Tangzhong method, and I will take you through the few steps required to make the perfect bread starter and bread loaf!
How to Make Hokkaido Milk Loaf (Step by Step)
We will be splitting this recipe into two parts: Making the Tangzhong, and Making the Hokkaido Milk Loaf. The Tangzhong requires a few easy but very important steps if you want to achieve a super soft and fluffy loaf.
Ingredients for Tangzhong
For the Tangzhong, you will need the following ingredients:
- Semi-skimmed milk
- Bread flour
To make Tangzhong, you will need to use equal amounts of milk and water. Semi-skimmed milk is enough, however you can also use whole milk (same amount). It's very important to use bread flour for this recipe. Compared to all-purpose flour, bread flour has more protein, contributing to the gluten needed in bread. The Tangzhong can be made ahead and left to chill overnight. Be sure to thaw to room temperature before using!
Ingredients for Hokkaido Milk Loaf
For the Hokkaido milk loaf you will need the following:
- Bread flour
- Sugar (white)
- Instant yeast
When making the milk loaf, you will need Tangzhong (which should be cooled down completely). It's also important to use bread flour here, for the same reasons as above. Bread flour will also help the bread to rise better than all-purpose flour so I strongly suggest using bread flour for this recipe. Sugar will provide the slight sweetness to the bread.
For this recipe, I prefer using instant yeast, but you can also use active dry yeast. If using active dry yeast, this needs to be dissolved in lukewarm water before using. Instant yeast on the other hand can be mixed into the dry ingredients right away. The butter needs to be softened at room temperature and cut into small cubes.
Tangzhong requires a few easy steps. Place the flour, milk, and water into a small saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Whisk constantly, making sure to break all lumps and keep whisking until a smooth paste or slurry forms. This usually requires around 1-2 minutes of heat.
Once the slurry forms, remove from heat and transfer the Tangzhong into a small glass bowl and allow to cool completely before using for the next steps. This usually requires a few hours, but can also be made the day before and chilled in a refrigerator overnight, but thaw to room temperature before using!
Making the Hokkaido Milk Loaf
To make the Hokkaido Milk Loaf, sift the flour, yeast (instant), sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer which is fitted with the bread hook attachment. Then, add the Tangzhong, egg, and milk and start mixing on low speed for 2-3 minutes, until combined. Use a spatula to scrape any ingredients from the side of the bowl.
Add the softened cubed butter and mix on low until a smooth dough is formed that pulls from the side of the bowl. This will take 7-10 minutes. Note that at first, the dough will stick all over the bowl. Don't panic! As the butter starts to incorporate, the dough will start pulling from the side of the bowl and will form a smooth "ball" of dough.
Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours, until doubled in size. Once doubled in size, punch the dough and place it on a lightly floured working surface (you may also need to lightly flour the dough if its too sticky). Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls (you can weigh the dough balls to make sure they are equal). Lightly grease a loaf tin with butter.
Roll out each of the dough balls using a rolling pin. The width for each piece needs to be equal to the width of your loaf tin, whilst the length should be around 6 inches. Roll the dough tightly so that it resembles a Swiss roll. If the width of the dough is longer than that of the loaf tin, carefully "push" in the sides. Do the same for the remaining 3 dough balls. Place each rolled dough piece into the loaf tin, with the seam side at the bottom side of the tin.
Cover the loaf tin with plastic wrap and leave to proof in a warm place for at least 1½ hours, or until doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C (356F).
Once doubled in size, brush the surface of the dough with milk using a pastry brush. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-35 minutes (depending on the size of your bread), until the surface becomes golden brown. Bring out of oven and allow to cool in loaf tin for 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Can I Make Milk Bread Rolls Instead?
Yes! If making bread rolls, split the dough into 8 equal sized portions, roll them into a ball, and place them into a (greased) square pan instead. You will still have to proof the rolls and brush with milk before baking, but baking time will be shorter (around 20 minutes), due to the smaller size.
Storing Hokkaido Milk Loaf
Although the Tangzhong can be made one day ahead, this bread is best eaten on the same day it's baked. Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting through (as it would be very soft when still hot!). If storing the bread, place in an airtight plastic container at room temperature and consume within 1-2 days.
Have you tried this fluffy Hokkaido Milk Loaf? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to rate the recipe! Also, don't forget to follow Baked Fig on Pinterest, and Instagram to stay updated with any new recipes! Also, check out other bread recipes here.
Hokkaido Milk Loaf
- 60 mL milk semi-skimmed or whole
- 60 mL water
- 25 g bread flour sifted
- Tangzhong room temperature
- 320 g bread flour sifted
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 7 g instant yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg medium-sized, room temperature
- 120 mL milk semi-skimmed or whole + more for brushing
- 60 g butter softened and cut in cubes
- Place water, milk, and flour into a small saucepan on medium heat, whisking continuously to prevent to formation of any lumps.
- Heat for 1-2 minutes, until a smooth and thick slurry forms and turn off heat. Transfer Tangzhong to a small glass bowl and cool completely before using. If making ahead, chill overnight in fridge and thaw to room temperature before using.
Hokkaido Milk Loaf
- Place sifted flour, instant yeast, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl of an electric mixed fitted with the bread hook attachment.
- Add egg, milk, and Tangzhong (room temperature).
- Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until combined. Scrape any ingredients from the side of the bowl using a spatula.
- Add cubed softened butter.
- Mix and knead on low speed until dough is smooth and pulls from the side of the bowl, around 7-10 minutes. (Please note, at first, the dough will stick all over the bowl. As the butter incorporates, the dough will start pulling from the side of the bowl and form a smooth “ball”).
- Cover the mixing bowl containing the dough with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for 1½-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, punch the dough and place it on a lightly floured working surface. (you may also need to lightly flour the dough if its too sticky). Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls (you can weigh these to make sure they're equal in size!).
- Lightly grease a loaf tin with butter. Roll out each piece of dough using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. The width for each piece needs to be equal to the width of your loaf tin, whilst the length should be around 6 inches (15cm). Roll the dough tightly so that it resembles a Swiss roll. If the width of the dough is longer than that of the loaf tin, lightly "push" in the sides.
- Place each piece of rolled dough into the loaf tin, with the seam side at the bottom side of the tin. Do the same for the remaining 3 dough balls.
- Cover the loaf tin with plastic wrap and allow to proof for at least 1½ hours in a warm place, until doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C (356F).
- Lightly brush the surface of the proofed dough with milk, using a pastry brush. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-35 minutes (depending on the size of your bread), until the surface becomes golden brown. Bring out of oven and allow to cool in loaf tin for 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.