Hokkaido Milk Bread
by B loves B
Hokkaido milk bread by far one of my favorite bread recipes. It makes a beautiful addition to a breakfast table scape, and you can also use it as a sandwich bread. Many recipes call for the use of both cream and milk, but I personally never have heavy cream on hand and don’t love buying ingredients that I may not use up, so I decided to keep this take simple with just whole milk.
For the Tangzhong:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons flour
For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups (320 g) all purpose or bread flour, plus more for kneading
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
For the Egg Wash:
1 teaspoon water
Step 1: Make the Tangzhong
Make the tangzhong* by whisking flour, milk, and water in a small saucepan and then heating and stirring constantly, until you develop a paste. Let cool to room temperature before using.
*A tangzhong is similar to a rue that you would use to thicken sauces and soups, but it serves a different purpose in bread. Heating up a small amount of flour with water (and in this case milk) helps to keep the dough more hydrated and results in a fluffier, softer bread that stays fresh longer.
Step 2: Activate the yeast
Warm milk to about 100 degrees F in microwave or over the stove. Whisk in sugar or honey and sprinkle in yeast, then set aside for about 5 minutes until bubbles form. If you are using instant yeast as opposed to active dry yeast, you can skip this step and add all of the ingredients in the next step accordingly.
Step 3: Combine the ingredients
In a large bowl, add the tangzhong and whisk in yeast mixture and 1 egg until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Add in butter and more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Step 4: Knead the dough and let rise
Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface or with a bread hook until dough is completely smooth, about 8 minutes. Coat a bowl with butter or oil, place dough in, cover and let rise for about an hour, until it doubles in size.
Step 5: Shape the dough and proof
Divide dough into four equal pieces and shape into balls. With a rolling pin, flatten the ball out, then fold over like an envelope from the top and the bottom, rotate it and flatten once more. Then roll up the dough and place it into your buttered pan.
Once all the dough is shaped and in the pan, let sit for 40-50 minutes to proof.
Step 6: Apply egg wash and bake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place a baking sheet in the oven with about a cup of water in it. This will create steam, which you will use for the first 15 minutes of baking.
Beat together one egg and teaspoon of water and brush top of the proofed bread with egg wash.
Bake the bread for 15 minutes with the steam inside the oven. Remove the pan of water, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until done. It may need an additional 5 minutes.
Let cool before cutting, and enjoy!