Japanese Milk Bread

If you've ever been to an Asian bakery, you've had milk bread. It's fluffy and light and stretchy and probably one of my favorite dessert-y breads. It's similar to challah but more moist and a bit more delicate.

I love making this because it's gorgeous and it's a fun dough to make. The dough is super soft and kneading it is pretty therapeutic.
Ingredients [yields 1 regular loaf or 2 mini loaves]:
2 tablespoons bread flour
6 tablespoons water
¼ cup heavy cream
1 egg
¼ cup warm milk (110F)
1½ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon + ¼ cup sugar
9 oz. bread flour (2 to 2½ cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
+ egg wash

Start by making a water roux (a.k.a. tangzhong) which is a technique that gives the bread a lighter texture and extends its shelf life. To make the water roux, add 2 tablespoons of flour with 6 tablespoons of water to a sauce pan and whisk vigorously until there are no lumps.
Pop the saucepan onto a low heat. Whisk continuously and allow the mixture to thicken. It should take on the texture of a gluey paste at which point, it should be removed from the heat immediately and then allowed to cool. As it cools, it will thicken up more and become quite sticky.
To the roux, add in heavy cream and whisk until the roux is loosened and the mixture is smooth. Then, crack in an egg and whisk again until smooth.
In a separate container, warm up some milk. I like to pour the milk into a glass measuring cup and let it warm up in a small saucepan of water. If your yeast-using experience is limited, use a thermometer to make sure that the milk gets no hotter than 110F. Any hotter and the yeast will die.
To the warmed milk, pour in 1 teaspoon of sugar and the dry active yeast and stir. Let sit until the yeast foams up, which is a sign that it's alive and bloomed.
Pour the yeast mixture into the water roux mixture and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ¼ cup sugar, and salt.
Make a well in the center and pour in the wet ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until a blob of dough forms. Then, scoop the dough out onto a working surface and knead until smooth.
Incorporate the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the dough until it's smooth and elastic. Knead vigorously and keep stretching the dough to work the gluten.
Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film, and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled. The other option is to allow the dough to rise in the fridge for 8 hours.
Punch the dough down and then portion into 4 pieces per loaf pan. So, if you're making one large loaf, portion the dough into 4 pieces and if you're using two mini loaf pans, portion the dough into 8 pieces.
Roll the dough out, fold into thirds, and repeat several times until the dough looks silky. Then, roll it up.
Tuck each roll into the loaf pan.
Cover the loaves with cling film and allow to rise for an hour.
The loaf that was assembled first obviously rose significantly more but I just went ahead and baked them at the same time. It was no biggie.
To promote browning, whisk up an egg and brush it onto the top of each loaf.
Bake the milk bread in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until beautifully golden brown.
Cool the loaves, pop out of the tins, slice, and then serve.
This bread is super fluffy, super light, barely chewy, and it's great alone but a smear of butter is my favorite preparation. And there is so much you can do with this bread. You can smear it with jam and Nutella for breakfast, toast it in butter and drizzle with dulce de leche and top with whipped cream for dessert, make a sandwich with mashed raspberries for lunch; it's awesome.
Here's the recipe page:


  1. This looks delicious and it's so easy to make. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Thank you for reading. Let me know if you make the bread and how it turns out :)


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