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Hokkaido milk bread, also known as Japanese milk bread, is a wonderfully soft, milky and lightly sweet bread that originated in Japan. What sets it apart from Western-style bread is the fact that it's made using tangzhong, a flour and water or milk mixture that's cooked into a paste. Tangzhong gives the bread that soft airy texture it's so famous for 😍If you've ever wondered how to make milk bread for yourself, it's actually not that much difficult than a regular loaf of white bread! Don't believe us? Try this halal Hokkaido milk bread recipe for yourself and make your own fluffy loaf 😁
P.S. If you make Hokkaido milk bread, it's perfect for making Japanese egg sandwiches (tamago sando), like the kind that's sold at Japanese convenience stores such as Lawson's, Family Mart and 7-Eleven!
For the tangzhong:
¼ cup water
¼ cup whole milk
23g bread flour
For the dough:
½ cup whole milk, lukewarm (about 40 degrees Celsius)
7g Active dry yeast
15g dry milk powder (this gives that nice milky taste and helps make the loaf tender! If you can't find this, you can omit it and still get nice bread, though the milky taste won't be as obvious).
350g bread flour
1 tsp salt
58g unsalted butter, softened
Make the tangzhong. Place all the tangzhong ingredients into a small pot and whisk to combine until no lumps remain.
Heat the pot over medium heat, whisking consistently until the mixture gets thick and the whisk leaves lines at the bottom of the pan. It should take 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.
To make the dough, activate the yeast by placing it in a small jar or bowl with the lukewarm milk, and 2 teaspoons of the sugar, mixing gently to combine and letting it stand for 5 - 10 minutes until bubbly.
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), combine the bread flour, remaining sugar, dry milk powder and salt, and mix well. Add the tangzhong, yeast mixture and egg and mix well. Knead (using your hands or the dough hook of your hand or stand mixer) until a sticky dough comes together (about 5 - 7 minutes ).
Add the butter in 2 to 3 portions, mixing well each time to incorporate it into the dough. Once all the butter is mixed in, continue kneading for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Shaped the dough into a ball, place it back in the bowl, cover, and let rest for about 1 hour or until double in size.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each dough portion into a ball.
Using a rolling pin, flatten one dough ball into a rough rectangle, then fold the top and bottom thirds of the inwards, like a letter. Rotate the dough and flatten it using the rolling pin again. Then, starting from the bottom, roll them it up into a log. Place the log (seam side down) in a lightly greased and floured 9" x 5" loaf pan (this should be able to fit all 4 logs - if you have a smaller loaf pan just add 3 logs instead).
Repeat with the remaining dough balls. For a clearer look, you can see Emmy from Emmy Made In Japan rolling out the dough as described below!
Cover the loaf pan and let dough rise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Once the bread is proofed (i.e. risen), brush the top of the bread dough with milk (for a more matte crust), or an egg wash (i.e. a beaten egg, for a glossy crust). Bake in the preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes, until golden brown on top. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature of the bread should be at least 190 degrees Fahrenheit or 88 degrees Celsius. If the bread starts to brown too much in the oven before there it's fully cooked, place a piece of foil over the surface of the bread to prevent it from burning. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before removing bread from pan. Let cool on a cooling rack.
Instead of a loaf, an easier option is to just shape the dough into rolls! Once you've rested your dough, instead of dividing into 4 portions, divide into 8 or 9 equal portions (depending on your baking pan). Roll each piece into a smooth, round dough ball and place them in a square or circle baking pan, with about ¼ - ½ inch of space between each ball. Cover and rest until double in size (about 40 minutes) before baking at 175 degrees Celsius for about 20 - 30 minutes golden brown on top. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature of the bread should be at least 190 degrees Fahrenheit or 88 degrees Celsius. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before removing bread from pan. Let cool on a cooling rack.
Hokkaido milk bread is a lusciously fluffy loaf of bread that no doubt everyone will enjoy, so make one for yourself following this recipe! If you're looking for more easy bread recipes, don't forget to check out our roundup for recipes that won't even need a breadmaker.