Super Soft Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese milk bread is literally the softest and fluffiest bread you’ll ever eat, it’s like love at first bite! But the best part is that it is incredibly easy to prepare!

Japanese milk bread

About This Recipe

Once you try Japanese milk bread your life will never be the same again! Seriously, it’s extremely soft, fluffy, and has a beautiful flaky texture, which is a result of the tangzhong method.

What is the Tangzhong method?

The tangzhong method is a technique used in bread baking where a portion of the flour and liquid in a bread recipe is cooked together to form a thick paste or roux, which is then added to the rest of the ingredients. This paste helps to retain moisture in the bread, resulting in a softer and more tender crumb. The tangzhong method is commonly used in Asian bread recipes, such as Japanese milk bread, to create a light and fluffy texture.

I highly recommend you use a stand mixer for this recipe, the dough is going to be sticky! But that does not mean it cannot be made by hand, it’ll be a bit harder but the end result will definitely be worth it.

Japanese milk bread can be made in different forms like a loaf or dinner rolls. In this recipe I’ll be making dinner rolls, which is really really easy, even if you’ve never baked bread before you cannot get it wrong!

What You Need To Make This Recipe

Flour: Although I use all-purpose flour in this recipe, if you have bread flour you should definitely use that for the bread instead. But for the tangzhong you’ll need AP flour.

Sugar: sugar plays a few important roles in bread making. It provides food for the yeast, which helps with fermentation and rising. Sugar also adds sweetness and flavor to the bread. Additionally, sugar helps with browning and caramelization during baking, resulting in a golden crust.

Water: this is for the tangzhong, you’ll need room temperature water.

Yeast: I used instant yeast so there’s no need to activate it, but if you’re using active-dry yeast you’ll need to activate it in the lukewarm milk first (milk in this case not water because it’s milk bread). See detailed instructions below.

Egg: adds moisture and richness to bread, and also helps to bind the ingredients together. Make sure to use a room temp. egg. Here’s a tip to quickly bring eggs to room temp. You’ll also need an extra egg yolk for the egg wash.

Milk powder: this is an optional ingredient, but it is highly recommended!

Milk: it’s Japanese milk bread so you’re going to need milk! I used whole milk and I recommend you do as well for the best results. Your milk should be lukewarm (not hot!), 98-105°F (37-40°C).

Butter: you MUST use softened butter, otherwise it will not fully incorporate into the dough. Here’s a tip to quickly bring butter to room temp. if you forgot to remove it from the refrigerator ahead of time.

How To Make Japanese Milk Bread

Step 1: Make the tangzhong: in a small saucepan combine water and flour, then cook that on medium heat until a thick paste forms. Transfer the paste into a bowl and refrigerate it for at least 20 minutes or until it’s cooled down completely.

Step 2: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the other ingredients except the butter. Add in the cooled tangzhong and knead on medium-high speed until the dough comes together.

Step3: Add in the softened butter in two batches kneading well between each addition.

Step 4: Once you’ve added the butter, knead the dough on medium speed for an additional minute or two.

Step 5: Transfer the dough to greased bowl and let the dough rest for one hour or until it has doubled in size.

Step 6: Once the dough has risen, divide it into 75g balls and arrange the balls in a greased 9 inch round pan. Cover and let that rest for another 45 minutes.

Step 7: Brush on the egg wash and bake in an oven preheated to 180 °C / 350 °F for 20 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush on some melted butter and let it cool down a bit before serving.

Storing The Japanese Milk Bread

It is best to store Japanese milk bread in an airtight container or plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. It stays surprisingly soft for 2-3 days because of the tangzhong. It can also be stored in the refrigerator for longer shelf life, but this may affect the texture of the bread. 

Pro Tips

  • Hack to quickly bring butter to room temperature: Cut the butter into small cubes and place them into a microwave safe bowl, then microwave at 20% power in 10 second intervals until the butter has softened (it should take about 20 seconds in total).
  • Hack to quickly bring eggs to room temperature: Place the eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for about 5-10 minutes. This will help them come to room temperature faster.
  • Let the tangzhong cool down completely before adding it to the dough. You could also make the the night before and refrigerate it. Then simply let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes before adding it in with the remaining ingredients.
  • After the Japanese milk bread is baked you could also brush on some garlic butter instead of regular melted butter to elevate the bread to a whole new level.

FAQ’s

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Yes! You could make the dough, let it rest for an hour, divide it into balls, arrange them in your pan, then cover and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning, let the pan sit at room temp. while the oven is preheating and then bake as usual.

Or you could just make the dough the the night before and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, divide the dough into balls, arrange them on the pan and then cover and rest those for 45 minutes before baking as usual.

Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?

Yes, but you’ll have to activate it first. Combine the lukewarm milk, active dry yeast and the sugar in a glass. Give it a whisk and let that sit for 5 minutes. Then you can add it into your mixer with the rest of the ingredients.

Japanese Milk Bread

Check out my YouTube Channel for detailed recipe tutorials! Made one of my recipes? Tag me on Instagram, I would love to see your creations!

Love these savory bread recipes? Then you should definitely try my Cheese Pide recipe!

Recipe Card

Super Soft Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese milk bread is literally the softest and fluffiest bread you’ll ever eat, it’s like love at first bite! But the best part is that it is incredibly easy to prepare!

Prep Time: 2 hrs. 15 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Total Time: 2 hrs. 35 min

Course: Appetizer

Cuisine: Japanese

Servings: 6-8

Calories: 238kcal

Ingredients

For the tangzhong:

  • 17g all-purpose flour
  • 85g water, room temp.

For the dough:

  • 310g all-purpose flour
  • 12g milk powder
  • 35g granulated sugar
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 47g unsalted butter, softened
  • 5g salt
  • 70g lukewarm milk (98-105°F (37-40°C))
  • 1 large egg, room temp.
  • Tangzhong

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp milk, room temp.

Equipment/Utensils

  • Stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
  • Kitchen scale
  • 9 inch round pan
  • Pastry rush

Instructions

  1. Make the tangzhong: In a small saucepan combine flour and water, give it a good mix and then place it on medium heat and cook while constantly stirring until the mixture thickens and forms a paste. This should only take about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the paste to a small bowl and refrigerate it for 20 minutes, or until it has cooled down completely.
  2. Make the dough: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all-purpose flour, milk powder, granulated sugar, instant yeast, salt, lukewarm milk, an egg, and the cooled tangzhong.
  3. Knead this on medium to high speed until the dough starts to come together, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Next add in the softened butter in two batches kneading well between each addition.
  5. Once the butter is fully incorporated into the dough, let the dough knead for another 1-2 minutes. Cover and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  6. One hour later, give the dough a gentle punch and transfer it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 75g balls and arrange them in a greased 9 inch round pan. Make sure to leave sufficient space between the balls as they are going to double in size. see pic above. Cover and let that rest for another 45 minutes.
  7. Once it’s been 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F and make the egg wash: whisk together an egg yolk and some milk in a small bowl.
  8. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the egg wash onto the risen dough balls and bake for 20 minutes, until the top are evenly golden brown (or even a bit darker if you prefer).
  9. Immediately as it comes out of the oven, brush the piping hot bread with melted butter (*optional) and let it cool down a bit before serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 237.81kcal

Total Fat: 7.06g

Carbs: 36.85g

Sugars: 5.69g

Protein: 6.16g

Sodium: 263.89mg

Fiber: 1.1g

** Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more. **

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