Japanese Milk Bread

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Soft, pillowy Japanese Milk Bread is perfect for slicing and toasting or serving as sandwiches. It has the soft white bread texture you know and love!

We’re making bread almost on a daily basis around here. It is not great for my carb intake, but it is good for my soul. Homemade bread is truly comfort food for me.

Although we love our standard country white bread and egg twist bread, sometimes I get anxious to learn something new. This Japanese milk bread is our newest bread recipe and is sure to be a favorite for your family too!

loaf of japanese milk bread

What is Japanese Milk Bread?

There are many different forms of milk bread and each one looks just a little bit different than the others. What they all have in common is a soft, pillowy, white bread texture that is perfectly sliceable. It is ideal for toast and for sandwiches.

Try an authentic Shokupan Japanese Milk Bread here.

Why do I need to make a starter for this bread?

Just like our homemade sourdough bread, this bread uses a starter. Another word for the starter is Tangzhong. It is basically a wet roux that is made beforehand and incorporated into the dough. It helps make up a good crumb and create the soft and fluffy texture in the dough.

ingredients for japanese milk bread

What will I need to make milk bread from scratch?

You will need the following ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour: It is common to use either all-purpose flour or bread flour (also known as strong flour). I have only ever used all-purpose flour for this recipe, but feel free to use bread flour if you are in a pinch. When using all-purpose flour, it makes a difference to use a separate spoon and scoop the flour into your measuring cup, then level it with a knife, so don’t skip that step. It ensures you get the right amount of flour.
  • Half and half: You can also use ¼ cup cream + ¼ cup milk if you don’t have half and half available. You can also use whole milk if that is all that you have available, but I have only ever tried this recipe with half and half.
  • Active dry yeast: You can use either rapid rise instant yeast or active dry yeast. Read all about baking with yeast here.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dry milk: If you don’t have powdered dry milk on hand, use sweetened condensed milk instead. Using sweetened condensed milk will result in a sweeter bread.
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Butter: I used salted butter for this recipe, but you can also use unsalted butter. I was a little worried that the salted butter would affect the rise time, but I didn’t have any problems with the rise and felt that it added more flavor to the bread. Just make sure that your butter is nice and softened before it goes into the dough. You don’t want any cold chunks left in the dough before it rises.

Tools to Make Bread

How to Make Milk Bread

Make the tangzhong.

  • Whisk starter ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir constantly for 4 minutes until it is thick and the whisk leaves lines in the pan.
  • Put starter on a separate plate or bowl and let cool. I like to spread it thinly on a plate in order for it to cool faster.

Mix the dough.

  • Add the yeast, sugar, flour, dry milk, and salt in that order into the bowl of a stand mixer.
dry ingredients for japanese milk bread
  • Whisk together and then add in the cooled starter, ½ cup half and half and beaten egg.
wet ingredients for japanese milk bread
  • Put on dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and beat on low for 5 minutes.
  • Add in butter and beat for an additional 5 minutes on low (you may need to knead it by hand to incorporate the butter so that the dough hook can pick up the bread. It’s supposed to feel very oily and greasy at this point).
soft dough in mixing bowl
  • Turn up the speed one notch on stand mixer and beat for an additional 5 minutes.

Rise the dough.

  • Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough.

  • Transfer dough to a clean surface and divide it into 4 equal sections.
  • Roll each piece out into about 8×5 inches in diameter.
  • Fold the long sides into the center and then roll it up like a cinnamon roll (see pictures above for this step).
  • Place each piece into a lightly greased 9×4 inch pan.

Rise again.

  • Cover and let rise for an additional 45 minutes.
unrisen japanese milk bread
risen japanese milk bread

Bake.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Brush bread with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
pastry brush brushing butter on milk bread
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The inside should be 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove bread from the oven and allow it to sit in pan for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
baked japanese milk bread

My bread won’t rise. Why is that?

The most important part of using a yeasted bread is to use fresh yeast. Make sure that you are following package storage instructions and checking the expiration date before making this bread. I usually have more luck using the individual packages of yeast, even though it’s not as cost effective as buying in bulk.

Make sure that you place your dough in a warm area to rise. I always let my dough rise in the oven with the oven light on (make sure no one turns on the over while it’s inside!!).

What can I eat with Japanese milk bread?

Milk bread can be used for a variety of purposes. It is very soft and fluffy with a neutral flavor, which makes it versatile. I have used this as a sandwich bread and it’s great for French toast. I also like to eat it with butter and jam, but it can also be eaten alongside a soup or curry.

loaf of sliced japanese milk bread

How do I store milk bread?

You can store milk bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5-7 days. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months. I prefer to slice it before freezing so that I don’t have to wait for it to thaw before cutting it. I pull it straight from the freezer and toast it.

sliced white bread
sliced white bread

Japanese Milk Bread {Easy White Bread}

4.75 from 4 votes
Soft, pillowy Japanese Milk Bread is perfect for slicing and toasting or serving as sandwiches. It has the soft white bread texture you know and love!
Servings 10
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 35 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the Starter (Tangzhong):

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup water

Dough:

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 yeast packet)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled off)
  • 1 tablespoon dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup half and half (room temperature)
  • 1 large egg (beaten, room temperature)
  • ¼ cup salted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter (melted)

Instructions
 

  • Whisk starter ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir constantly for 4 minutes until it is thick and the whisk leaves lines in the pan.
  • Put starter on a separate plate or bowl and let cool. I like to spread it thinly on a plate in order for it to cool faster.
  • Add the yeast, sugar, flour, dry milk, and salt in that order into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Whisk together and then add in the cooled starter, ½ cup half and half and beaten egg.
  • Put on dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and beat on low for 5 minutes.
  • Add in butter and beat for an additional 5 minutes on low (you may need to knead it by hand to incorporate the butter so that the dough hook can pick up the bread. It’s supposed to feel very oily and greasy at this point).
  • Turn up the speed one notch on stand mixer and beat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  • Transfer dough to a clean surface and divide it into 4 equal sections.
  • Roll each piece out into about 8×5 inches in diameter.
  • Fold the long sides into the center and then roll it up like a cinnamon roll (see pictures above for this step).
  • Place each piece into a lightly greased 9×4 inch pan.
  • Cover and let rise for an additional 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Brush bread with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The inside should be 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove bread from the oven and allow it to sit in pan for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Cut or pull apart bread to serve.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe being cut into 10 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of bread. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 275IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Bread
Cuisine Japanese
Calories 233
Keyword apple breakfast, bread, brunch

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Beth
2 years ago

Hello, I only have buttermilk in my refrigerator and was wondering if I can use buttermilk for this recipe? Please advise. Thank you so much!

Julie McNeely
2 years ago

Good morning, what is the weight of the flour….either in grams or ounces? Thank you.

Martha
1 year ago

5 stars
My best bread yet, I followed this recipe to a T. Finally a bread that actually came out. Wow, bread making skills are hard. But this recipe will be my go to from now on, it came out perfect. I will be serving it in the morning with Nutella.