Japanese Milk Bread | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

Join! 12 weeks for $1

.
Sonoko Sakai shows us how easy it is to make this tender, pillowy bread
Milk Street Bowtie Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese Milk Bread

Appears in May-June 2021

4 hours 50 minutes active, plus cooling

Japanese Milk Bread

Free

Japanese milk bread is a fluffy, slightly sweet, fine-textured loaf. It stays moister and softer longer than standard sandwich bread thanks to the Asian technique of mixing tangzhong into the dough. Tangzhong is a mixture of flour and liquid cooked to a gel; it’s often referred to as a roux, though it does not contain any butter or oil and serves a different purpose than a classic roux. The gelatinized starch in tangzhong can hold onto more water than uncooked flour, thereby offering several benefits. The dough is easy to handle despite the high hydration level; the loaf attains a high rise and a light, airy crumb; and the baked bread keeps well. Sonoko Sakai, author of “Japanese Home Cooking,” makes her milk bread with a small amount of non-wheat flour combined with bread flour. When adapting her formula, we opted to use rye flour for its nutty flavor. This recipe makes two loaves, so you will need two 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans; metal works better than glass for heat conduction and browning. The baked and cooled bread keeps well at room temperature in an airtight container or plastic bag for several days (it can be stored in the refrigerator for slightly longer but would then be best rewarmed or toasted). Or the bread can be frozen, unsliced and wrapped in plastic then foil, for up to one month.

2

1½-pound loaves

Tip

Don’t be tempted to add more flour to the dough as it is kneaded. The dough will be sticky and gluey, but after rising, it will be workable. When shaping the dough, use minimal flour so the dough remains as moist as possible. Lastly, when inverting the loaves out of the pan and turning them upright to cool, handle them gently as they are delicate and easily separate at the seam.

4 hours

50 minutes active, plus cooling

½ cup water
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
¼ cup (34 grams) bread flour
113 grams (8 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 8 pieces, room temperature, plus 28 grams (2 tablespoons), melted, for brushing
3 large eggs, divided
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
639 grams (4⅔ cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
60 grams (½ cup) rye flour
80 grams (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar
27 grams (¼ cup) nonfat or low-fat dry milk powder
1½ tablespoons instant yeast
1¾ teaspoons table salt
For the roux:
  • ½

    cup water

  • ¼

    cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

  • ¼

    cup (34 grams) bread flour

For the dough:
  • 113

    grams (8 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 8 pieces, room temperature, plus 28 grams (2 tablespoons), melted, for brushing

  • 3

    large eggs, divided

  • 1

    cup whole milk, room temperature

  • 639

    grams (4⅔ cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting

  • 60

    grams (½ cup) rye flour

  • 80

    grams (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 27

    grams (¼ cup) nonfat or low-fat dry milk powder

  • tablespoons instant yeast

  • teaspoons table salt

Directions
  1. 01
    To make the water roux, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk and flour, then whisk until lump-free. Set over medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens (a silicone spatula drawn through the mixture leaves a trail) and bubbles slowly, 2 to 4 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly against the surface and cool to room temperature.
  2. 02
    To make the dough, brush a large bowl with melted butter; reserve the remaining melted butter. Add two of the eggs to the cooled roux and whisk until well combined. Add the room-temperature milk and whisk until homogeneous and smooth.
  3. 03
    In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the bread and rye flours, sugar, milk powder, yeast and salt. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer and, with the machine running on low, slowly add the roux-egg mixture. With the mixer still running, add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is very strong and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes; it will stick to the sides of the bowl. Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl, then brush the surface with melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours. Meanwhile, coat 2 metal 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans with melted butter.
  4. 04
    Lightly flour the counter. Gently punch down the dough, then turn it out onto the prepared counter. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 equal portions, each about 355 grams (about 12½ ounces). Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Using your hands, pat one ball into a 7-by-4-inch rectangle, then fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Pinch the seam to seal. Turn the dough seam side down and place on one side of one of the prepared loaf pans so the seam is perpendicular to the length of the pan. Shape a second portion of dough, then place it in the pan alongside the first portion, positioning it the same way; there should be just a small amount of space between the 2 pieces of dough. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel.
  5. 05
    Repeat the process with the remaining portions of dough, then place under the towel alongside the first pan. Let rise until the dough domes 1 to 1½ inches over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until well combined; set aside.
  6. 06
    When the dough is properly risen, gently brush the tops with the beaten egg. Bake until the loaves are well risen and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Gently invert the bread out of the pans, stand them upright on the rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.
    See Demo
    japanese-milk-bread-step
Tip: Don’t be tempted to add more flour to the dough as it is kneaded. The dough will be sticky and gluey, but after rising, it will be workable. When shaping the dough, use minimal flour so the dough remains as moist as possible. Lastly, when inverting the loaves out of the pan and turning them upright to cool, handle them gently as they are delicate and easily separate at the seam.
.
In the store
More

Sides

Down arrow

Japanese Milk Bread

Get Ready to Cook

2

1½-pound loaves

4 hours

50 minutes active, plus cooling

Tip

Don’t be tempted to add more flour to the dough as it is kneaded. The dough will be sticky and gluey, but after rising, it will be workable. When shaping the dough, use minimal flour so the dough remains as moist as possible. Lastly, when inverting the loaves out of the pan and turning them upright to cool, handle them gently as they are delicate and easily separate at the seam.

For the roux:
  • ½

    cup water

  • ¼

    cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

  • ¼

    cup (34 grams) bread flour

For the dough:
  • 113

    grams (8 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 8 pieces, room temperature, plus 28 grams (2 tablespoons), melted, for brushing

  • 3

    large eggs, divided

  • 1

    cup whole milk, room temperature

  • 639

    grams (4⅔ cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting

  • 60

    grams (½ cup) rye flour

  • 80

    grams (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 27

    grams (¼ cup) nonfat or low-fat dry milk powder

  • tablespoons instant yeast

  • teaspoons table salt

Step 1 of 6

Prepare Roux

½
cup water
¼
cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
¼
cup (34 grams) bread flour

To make the water roux, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk and flour, then whisk until lump-free.


Set over medium and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens (a silicone spatula drawn through the mixture leaves a trail) and bubbles slowly, 2 to 4 minutes.


Scrape into a medium bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly against the surface and cool to room temperature.

Step 2 of 6

Add Eggs and Milk

28
(2 tablespoons) salted butter, melted, for brushing
2
large eggs
1
cup whole milk, room temperature

To make the dough, brush a large bowl with melted butter; reserve the remaining melted butter.


Add two of the eggs to the cooled roux and whisk until well combined. Add the room-temperature milk and whisk until homogeneous and smooth.

Step 3 of 6

Combine Ingredients In Stand Mixer

639
grams (4⅔ cups) bread flour
60
grams (½ cup) rye flour
80
grams (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar
27
grams (¼ cup) nonfat or low-fat dry milk powder
tablespoons instant yeast
teaspoons table salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the bread and rye flours, sugar, milk powder, yeast and salt. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer and, with the machine running on low, slowly add the roux-egg mixture.


With the mixer still running, add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is very strong and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes; it will stick to the sides of the bowl.


Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl, then brush the surface with melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours. Meanwhile, coat 2 metal 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pans with melted butter.

Step 4 of 6

Shape Dough and Add to Pan

Bread flour, for dusting

Lightly flour the counter. Gently punch down the dough, then turn it out onto the prepared counter. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 equal portions, each about 355 grams (about 12½ ounces).


Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Using your hands, pat one ball into a 7-by-4-inch rectangle, then fold the dough into thirds like a business letter. Pinch the seam to seal.


Turn the dough seam side down and place on one side of one of the prepared loaf pans so the seam is perpendicular to the length of the pan.


Shape a second portion of dough, then place it in the pan alongside the first portion, positioning it the same way; there should be just a small amount of space between the 2 pieces of dough. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel.

Step 5 of 6

Rest Dough In Pan

1
large egg

Repeat the process with the remaining portions of dough, then place under the towel alongside the first pan. Let rise until the dough domes 1 to 1½ inches over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.


Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until well combined; set aside.

Step 6 of 6

Bake, Finish and Serve

When the dough is properly risen, gently brush the tops with the beaten egg. Bake until the loaves are well risen and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.


Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Gently invert the bread out of the pans, stand them upright on the rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Milk Street Bowtie Logo

Done!

Did you enjoy this recipe?

Want more?

See More Sides
MAY 2021
JIA WOK + WOK SPATULA + SPIDER SKIMMER

$150 VALUE

Success!

Thank you for participating in our monthly giveaway!

Entry Form
How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your giveaway entry as well as communications from Milk Street. We will not share or rent your email address. You can unsubscribe from receiving our emails at any time.

Enter the Milk Street Giveaway
Enter the Milk Street Giveaway