Japanese milk bread is the lightest, fluffiest bread you will ever taste! It is delicious as a sandwich bread as well as toasted; making it a delicious (and easy!) homemade everyday bread.
One of the greatest Japanese culinary surprises I found when we lived in Nagoya, Japan, was the bread. I arrived fully expecting to be educated about noodles, rice or sushi; but not about Japanese bread. It was so light, soft and fluffy – and utterly addictive! I ate it every morning for breakfast, lightly toasted and spread with strawberry jam. Sometimes I’d buy plain milk bread, other times I would buy it flavoured with Matcha or sweet beans.
Once back in Australia it took me a while to bake milk bread as I assumed it would be a complicated recipe to make. But it is actually really easy. If you own a stand mixer with a dough hook on it that will do the kneading for you, it is a very easy bread recipe!
When the bread is toasted, it smells of brioche – which is utterly addictive! Like brioche, the dough is enriched with egg and butter, these two ingredient also help make this bread rich and tender – although it is much less rich than brioche!
Whilst the middle of this white bread is as light as air; the crusts are soft too, and toddler Mini Jones – who often eats around his crusts – will eat the whole slice of bread.
What is the secret to making this super soft and fluffy bread?
The secret is ‘tangzhong’ which in Chinese means ‘water roux.’ You gently heat a little flour and water together to make a paste, and then leave it to cool before adding to the other bread ingredients. The trick to remember is that the liquid: flour ratio is 5:1.
I have made the tangzhong and left it at room temperature for 1 hour and 7 hours, the length of time didn’t seem to make much of a difference to the loaf of bread.
Folding the dough before the second rise in the tin:
Or watch this detailed video here:
Tips for making this milk bread:
- Oil/grease your bread tin before putting the dough in it.
- Leave the loaf of bread to cool before slicing – otherwise it can be crumbly!
- You can use all water in the tangzhong or a mixture of milk and water, but remember to keep it 5 parts liquid to 1 part flour.
- I have added just a little sugar to this recipe, but if you want a sweeter dough then increase it to 15 grams.
Serving Ideas for the Japanese bread:
- Use as a sandwich bread. We enjoy sandwiches filled with ham, cheese or eggs – such as this avocado and egg sandwich filling
- Toast and serve with butter, jam, this banana jam, or savoury toast toppings such as cream cheese smoked salmon pate or this Hungarian cottage cheese Korözött
Japanese Milk Bread
For the Tangzhong (water roux)
- 17 g bread flour
- 83 ml water
Rest of Ingredient for Japanese Milk Bread
- 300 g bread flour
- 1 tbsp | 8g milk powder
- 10 g white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 g instant yeast
- 120 ml milk
- 1 egg beaten
- 60 g butter melted
To make the Tangzhong:
- In a small saucepan combine water and flour. Add half the water to the flour, whisk and then add the rest to prevent lumps from forming
- Place over low heat and whisk – for about 3-5 minutes until it starts to thicken.
- Stir for another 2 minutes until it becomes smooth paste – should be able to get soft peaks from it and the whisk leaves lines on bottom of pan that the paste doesn't fill.
- Cool completely before use.
To make the milk bread:
- In a bowl or mixer bowl combine the flour, milk powder, sugar and yeast.
- In another bowl whisk together the milk, egg, melted butter and tangzhong.
- Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and knead for 15-20 minutes
- Place in a bowl and cover with a towel or greased clingfilm and leave to rest for 90 minutes.
- Lightly grease a 1 lb loaf tin.
- Divide the dough into 4.
- Take one ball of dough and flatten out to a ½cm thick rectangle. Fold one short side over by a third, and then fold the other short side of dough over. (Refer to the process images in the body of the post).
- Flatten this out and repeat: folding one short side over and then the other.
- Place in the tin seam side down.
- Repeat with the other three balls of dough.
- Cover with a tea towel/greased cling wrap and rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 175˚C(fan)/350˚F
- Bake the loaf of bread for 30 minutes until lightly golden.
- Leave in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.