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Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

Japanese Milk Bread, known as Hokkaido milk bread or simply Shokupan, is a pillowy-soft, slightly sweet, and tender loaf that has stolen the hearts of many bread enthusiasts.

Its feathery texture and delightful taste sets it apart from other bread varieties and has made it a favorite both in Japan and in bakeries all over the world.

The secret behind its unique texture is the use of an interesting technique that involves creating a tangzhong, a pre-cooked paste made from flour and milk.

In this recipe you’ll understand the importance of using bread flour, which has a higher protein content to allow for more gluten development.

This ensures the unmistakable airy texture of this bread.

Additionally, the type of milk you use will play a crucial role in the flavor and final result, with options like non-fat, whole, or 2% milk at your disposal.

How to Make Japanese Milk Bread

japanese milk bread recipe feat

Ingredients List

To make Japanese Milk Bread, you’ll need the following ingredients:

For the Tangzhong:

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons bread flour

For the Milk Bread:

  • 275g bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

Step-by-step Process

Step 1: Prepare the tangzhong

Combine 3 tbsp of water, 3 tbsp of milk, and 2 tbsp of bread flour in a small saucepan.

Whisk until no lumps remain.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.

Step 2: Activate the yeast

In a small bowl, combine the warm milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.

Step 3: Mix dry ingredients

 In a separate mixer bowl, whisk together 275g of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of milk powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining sugar.

Step 4: Combine wet and dry ingredients

Add the activated yeast mixture, the cooled tangzhong, and the softened unsalted butter to the dry ingredients.

Attach the dough hook to your mixer and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well-combined.

Step 5: Knead the dough

Continue kneading with the dough hook attachment for about 10 minutes or until the bread dough forms a smooth, elastic dough ball.

Step 6: First dough proof

Lightly grease a clean bowl, and place the dough ball inside.

Cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap, and place it in a draft-free spot with a warm temperature (you can use your turned-off oven with just the oven light on).

Allow the dough to rise for about 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

Step 7: Shape the milk bread dough

Gently deflate it on a floured surface once the dough has risen.

Divide the dough into equal portions, then place each into a ball and place them in a greased loaf pan.

Step 8: Second dough proof

Cover the loaf pan with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Step 9: Preheat the oven

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) while the dough rises.

Step 10: Apply egg wash

Gently brush the tops of the dough balls with a lightly beaten egg to create a shiny egg wash.

Step 11: Bake the Japanese Milk Bread

Place the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Step 12: Cool and serve

 Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, slice and enjoy your homemade Japanese Milk Bread!

Side Dishes for Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese Milk Bread, also known as Hokkaido or Shokupan, is a soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet bread that pairs well with various side dishes.

Here are some delicious options to accompany this versatile bread:

Miso Soup

Miso Soup is made from a combination of miso paste, dashi, and various ingredients such as tofu, seaweed, and green onions.

The soup’s savory umami flavor complements the sweetness of the milk bread, making it an ideal side dish.

The warm soup adds a cozy, comforting touch to your meal.

Japanese Curry

Japanese Curry is a milder and slightly sweeter version of Curry compared to its Indian counterpart.

With a thick, rich sauce paired with vegetables, meat, or tofu, this Curry can be served alongside Japanese Milk Bread as a delicious and filling option.

The bread can be used to sop up the curry sauce, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is a Japanese rolled omelet infused with a hint of sweetness, often served as a side dish or for breakfast.

The fluffy texture of the omelet matches well with the softness of the milk bread.

The subtle sweetness of both dishes creates a harmonious combination, perfect for a satisfying meal.

Goma-ae

Goma-ae is a light and refreshing Japanese side dish with blanched vegetables, such as spinach or green beans, tossed in a sesame dressing.

The nutty, savory dressing adds a contrasting flavor to the mild sweetness of the Japanese Milk Bread.

Goma-ae is a great option if you’re looking for a balanced, healthier side dish.

In summary, these side dishes can elevate the taste of your Japanese Milk Bread meal, providing a range of flavors and textures that cater to different palates.

Enjoy experimenting with these options and savor the exquisite combination of tastes in your next meal.

Ingredients Substitutes

Japanese Milk Bread is a soft and fluffy bread that can be made using a variety of ingredients.

In this section, we’ll explore some possible substitutes for specific ingredients, including yeast, salt, and unsalted butter.

Fresh Yeast

Another option for yeast substitution is using fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast.

This type of yeast is rare, and it has a short shelf life, but it can be a viable substitute for dry yeast in your recipe.

When substituting fresh yeast for dry yeast, use twice the weight of fresh yeast as the dry yeast amount called for in your recipe.

Kosher Salt

If you don’t have regular salt, you can use other brands of salt like Morton’s or even Kosher salt.

Keep in mind different salts have different grain sizes, which can affect the overall taste of your bread.

As a general rule, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of table salt or 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt for every 1 teaspoon of Diamond Crystal salt required.

Unsalted Butter

Unsalted butter is the recommended choice for Japanese Milk Bread because it allows for more control over the bread’s salt content.

However, if you only have salted butter available, you can use it as a substitute.

To compensate for the additional saltiness, reduce the amount of salt specified in your recipe by 1/4 teaspoon per 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter used.

Remember to consider these substitutes and adjust your Japanese Milk Bread recipe accordingly to ensure a delicious outcome.

How to Store Japanese Milk Bread

After making Japanese Milk Bread, it is important to store it properly to prolong its freshness and maintain its soft, fluffy texture.

Follow these methods to store your finished loaf:

At Room Temperature

Keep the finished loaf in an airtight container or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.

Store the container or wrapped loaf in a cool, dark pantry or on the countertop away from direct sunlight and heat.

Avoid keeping the bread in a warm location, as this might encourage mold growth.

This storage method is suitable for short-term storage of up to 2-3 days.

In the Refrigerator

For longer storage, wrap the finished loaf tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

This method will slow down the staling process and keep the bread fresh for up to a week.

Before consuming the refrigerated bread, let it come back to room temperature to restore its original softness.

In the Freezer

To store Japanese Milk Bread for an extended period, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, label it with the date, and place it in a freezer-proof bag or container.

This method allows the bread to be stored for up to three months.

When you want to enjoy it again, thaw the bread at room temperature and then gently reheat it in the oven or toaster to restore its softness and warmth.

Remember, proper storage is crucial in preserving the quality and taste of your homemade Japanese Milk Bread.

Choose the appropriate method based on how long you plan to store it, and enjoy this delicious treat anytime you desire.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when preparing Japanese Milk Bread.

Over-flouring sticky dough

It’s normal for Japanese Milk Bread dough to be sticky, so don’t be tempted to constantly add more flour.

Embrace the stickiness and trust the process.

Using a dough scraper can help you manage and handle the dough without adding unnecessary flour.

Not shaping dough logs properly

When dividing and shaping the dough into logs, make sure to do so evenly and with a gentle touch.

Over-handling or uneven shaping can result in irregularly shaped or dense final loaves.

Proofing period

The proofing period is crucial for allowing the dough to rise and develop its signature soft and fluffy texture.

Make sure to give it enough time (usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours) in a warm environment, allowing it to rise and create carbon dioxide, which will give your bread its desired airiness.

Rushing the proofing process can lead to a dense loaf.

Cutting proofed dough

Once the dough has been proofed, refrain from cutting or puncturing it, as doing so may cause it to deflate.

This can affect the bread’s final texture, making it less soft and fluffy.

Not preheating your heating element

A properly preheated oven or heating element will ensure that your Japanese Milk Bread cooks evenly and develops its desired golden-brown crust.

Turning up the temperature to compensate for a cold oven or heating element will only result in uneven cooking and a potentially overcooked or burnt loaf.

Inadequate warm environment

For optimal fermentation and rise, your dough must be in a consistently warm environment, typically around 75-80°F (24-27°C).

If your environment is too cold, your dough will not rise as desired, and if it’s too hot, the yeast may become too active, causing uneven and rapid fermentation.

japanese milk bread recipe feat

Japanese Milk Bread Recipe

Japanese Milk Bread, known as Hokkaido milk bread or simply Shokupan, is a pillowy-soft, slightly sweet, and tender loaf that has stolen the hearts of many bread enthusiasts.
It's feathery texture and delightful taste sets it apart from other bread varieties and has made it a favorite both in Japan and in bakeries all over the world.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 6
Equipment
  • loaf pan
  • kitchen scale
  • saucepan
  • bowl
Ingredients
  
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons bread flour
  • 275 g bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1 egg for egg wash
Instructions
 
  • Combine 3 tbsp of water, 3 tbsp of milk, and 2 tbsp of bread flour in a small saucepan.
    Whisk until no lumps remain.
    Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes.
    Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.
  • In a small bowl, combine the warm milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
    Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  • In a separate mixer bowl, whisk together 275g of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of milk powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining sugar.
  • Add the activated yeast mixture, the cooled tangzhong, and the softened unsalted butter to the dry ingredients.
    Attach the dough hook to your mixer and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well-combined.
  • Continue kneading with the dough hook attachment for about 10 minutes or until the bread dough forms a smooth, elastic dough ball.
  • Lightly grease a clean bowl, and place the dough ball inside.
    Cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap, and place it in a draft-free spot with a warm temperature (you can use your turned-off oven with just the oven light on).
    Allow the dough to rise for about 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  • Gently deflate it on a floured surface once the dough has risen.
    Divide the dough into equal portions, then place each into a ball and place them in a greased loaf pan.
  • Cover the loaf pan with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) while the dough rises.
  • Gently brush the tops of the dough balls with a lightly beaten egg to create a shiny egg wash.
  • Place the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.
    Once cooled, slice and enjoy your homemade Japanese Milk Bread!

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