What is Japanese milk bread?
Sometimes known as Shokupan or Hokkaido Milk Bread, this simple white bread is very popular in Japan. You can probably find it in most Japanese bakeries and even convenience stores.
Although you can find this in some grocery stores, I find that homemade milk bread has a much better texture, flavor, and a lot less preservatives. Once you make this delightfully soft and tasty bread with just a handful of ingredients, you’ll find yourself wondering why the store-bought kind has more than 20 ingredients!
How to make the best Japanese milk bread
What separates Japanese milk bread from other kinds of white bread is the method of warming the flour with liquid first to form a roux. This practice has two effects: it activates the gluten in the flour, which is what gives that fluffy texture, and it helps the bread stay fresh longer! No preservatives necessary.
In this recipe, I use a variation of the “tangzhong” method, wherein flour is made into a roux with water at around a 1:5 ratio. Instead of water, I like to use milk. Another popular style is the “yudane” method, which involves combining flour with boiling water at a 1:1 ratio.
I also create a roux when making my ube pandesal with cheese recipe! This is another delicious Asian bread recipe I think you should try.
What to eat with Japanese milk bread
Because this bread is so soft and milky, you might be surprised to know that in Japan it’s often used to sandwich savory foods like wagyu steak or katsu (fried breaded pork). The mildly sweet taste of the milk bread actually complements stronger flavors while the pillowy texture pairs really well with both crispy and dense fillings. So feel free to experiment with using this in savory applications. You can even try it with Japanese curry!
For something milder, I highly recommend serving this with butter, condensed milk, or even soft cheese with herbs. The mildly sweet, milky flavor of the bread buns will definitely go wonderfully with similar flavors.
Since it’s good for anything from sandwiches to toasting to dipping, I find this Japanese milk bread to be a great “everyday bread” that you can use for practically anything!
How long does Japanese milk bread last?
This delicious bread usually disappears in a flash! But if you happen to have some left over, store it in room temperature or below, preferably in a cloth bread bag or wrapped in paper so air can circulate. Keeping it this way, the milk bread can stay soft and airy for as long as 7 days.
Homemade Japanese Milk Bread Rolls from Scratch
This homemade bread is wonderfully fluffy and soft, made from scratch using simple, wholesome ingredients. In this recipe, I teach you how to make these delicious milk bread rolls at home. Freshly baked, pillowy soft, with a hint of milky sweetness, you’ll want to make these Japanese bread buns over and over again!
- 320 grams Bread Flour
- 20 grams Bread Flour
- 1/2 cup Whole milk
- 1/2 cup Evaporated milk (or just use whole milk again)
- 1 pack INSTANT Rise Yeast
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 stick Butter
- 4 TBSP Sugar
Step 1: cook 1/2 cup of whole milk with 20 grams of bread flour into a paste
Step 2: mix paste with 1 egg and 1/2 cup of evaporated milk (or whole milk)
Step 3: mix 320 grams of bread flour, 1 pack of Instant Rise yeast with mixture from Step 2 for 1 min. or until all dry ingredients are combined. Rest dough for 10-15 minutes
Step 4: continue to mix dough and add 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, 4 TBSP of sugar and 1/2 stick of butter one at a time at speed setting #2
Step 5: once all ingredients are all combined, mix at speed setting #4 for about 8 minutes
Step 6: do the stretch test; if dough stretches without tearing, it is ready
Step 7: rest dough for 1 hour covered in oven with oven lights on or rest dough for 1/2 hour in Instant Pot at Yogurt setting at medium heat
Step 8: deflate dough and get all air bubbles out and shape dough into desired form
Step 9: cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes in oven with oven lights on
Step 10: pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Step 11: bake Milk Bread for 20-25 minutes; for small rolls 20 minutes should be good; for loaf size, 25 minutes is great; baking time does depend on how hot your oven gets
Step 12: ENJOY!