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Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread

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Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread

This recipe produces a pillowy soft white bread that is perfect for making sandwiches or toasting. The recipe uses a traditional tangzong which is also called a starter, it’s similar to a roux. The tangzong is easy to make and apart from this step the process is very similar to standard bread recipes.

There is a video tutorial at the bottom of this article that shows the step by step processes. Before I move on to the recipe I’ll run through a few pointers that you should find useful.

Don’t forget to check out my chicken katsu recipe that uses this Hokkaido milk bread to make an outstanding sandwich.

Can I use a different type of milk?

I have chosen to use cow's milk with 3.5% fat. You could use milk with more or less fat, just remember that it will alter the texture and taste of the crumb. In addition to the liquid needed to make the dough the milk adds flavour and fat.

I have used plant-based milk in my sourdough sandwich loaf with great success but haven't tested it in this recipe yet, although I’d encourage you to give it a go.

Click here to see the sourdough sandwich bread made with almond milk.

Which flour should I use?

In this recipe, I use 50% strong bread flour and 50% soft all-purpose flour. The combination of the two flours delivers a well-structured crumb that isn’t too chewy. If you have both you can try this combination, if you don’t it's no problem, you can use 100% bread flour.

I don’t worry too much about building a strong dough for this recipe as the dough is supported by the bread tin and the final texture of the bread should be soft. It’s good to remember that different types of flour absorb different amounts of liquid. If you find the dough is a little dry or wet you can adjust the recipe for the next bake.

If you are struggling with sticky dough then read my article by clicking here.

Equipment needed for this recipe

You’ll need a set of digital scales that weigh in grams. A bowl scraper and a bench scraper are two invaluable baking tools that make moving and dividing the dough easy and help with the cleanup process too.

You’ll need a bread tin to bake your loaf in. I use a Pullman tin with a lid for this recipe, it measures 19.5cm long, 10.5cm wide, 11cm deep (inside measurements, length and width measured from the top of the tin). It’s a 2lb or 900g tin.

I have been using the same Chef Made non-stick baking tins for over two years now and they have been fantastic, nothing sticks (although I always oil them), they are a breeze to clean and they leave an awesome wavey pattern on the crust.

View the chef made tins on Amazon

Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread Recipe

Kitchen temperature: 16c / 60f
Oven temperature: 180c / 355f - conventional oven (bake mode) with no fan
Bake time: 35-40 minutes (checking towards the end of the bake)


185g All-purpose flour
185g Strong bread flour
265g Milk (3.5% fat)
30g White sugar
7g Salt
1 Egg
7g Instant yeast
25g Unsalted butter

To make the Tangzong

1. Weigh 100 grams of milk, 10 grams of all-purpose flour and 10 grams of bread flour into a small pan. Whisk the mixture over medium heat (6/9) until it thickens to a paste (see video below). Keep whisking throughout to avoid lumps and the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2. Leave to cool

Making the dough

1. In a bowl combine 165 grams of milk, 30 grams of white sugar, 7 grams of salt and 1 egg. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the egg is well combined. Sprinkle 7 grams of instant yeast on the top of the mixture.

In the video that accompanies this recipe, I gently warm the milk to room temperature before adding the other ingredients. This speeds the process up a little, but you can use the milk cold, from the fridge.

2. In a bowl combine 175 grams of all-purpose flour and 175 grams of strong bread flour. Make sure the tangzong has cooled to room temperature and add it to the flour.

3. Add the milk mixture to the mixing bowl with the flour and tangzong. Using a spoon and then your hand combine the ingredients. Don’t worry about making a smooth dough at this point, just make sure there are no dry pockets of flour. Cover the bowl and leave it at room temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead for 7-8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth. (If your dough is a little wet or dry see the note regarding flour above the recipe).

5. Add 25 grams of room-temperature butter to the dough and knead for another five minutes or so, until the butter is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Place into your bowl, cover and leave out at room temperature to proof.

6. Once your dough has roughly doubled in size you can turn it out onto your work surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape them into balls.

Lightly flour your worktop and roll each ball into an oval shape, about the width of your tin and three-quarters of the length of your tin. Lightly oil the inside of your baking tin.

Roll the dough up into a tight sausage shape and place it into the bottom of your tin. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

7. Cover the tin and leave it to proof. If you are using a Pullman tin with a lid, you can cover it with the lid now. Or you can cover the tin with a bag and place the lid on after the dough has risen. Both methods need constant attention - I discuss this more in the video below.

8. Once the dough has risen (mine took 2.5 hours) place the tin in an oven that has been pre-heated to 180c or 355f and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time check the bread to make sure it isn’t over colouring on the outside.

9. Remove the dough from the tin immediately and allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing.

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