When I baked this I was in the mood for baking and eating something simple, no-fuss and reminiscent of being home. I decided that hokkaido milk bread fits all of these factors, and thus I put a baking plan into action. Yes it’s a plain loaf – but look how soft and fluffy it is, with that lovely golden brown crust. The crumb really is like eating cotton wool (although eating cotton wool would be awful, I can’t even touch cotton wool!), or like a non-sticky bread-like version of candy floss. This bread can be eaten plain or with things, and also makes great sandwiches. I quite liked it with a really thick layer of cream cheese.
Hokkaido milk bread is an Asian bread made using the popular tangzhong method (basically a water roux heated to about 65C). It’s secret to the softness is the tangzhong paste, which really ups the moisture content. I’ve made things using the tangzhong method lots before, but never made the basic hokkaido milk loaf, which is a classic in chinese bakeries.
This is quite a simple and easy recipe, but it really shows the beauty of the tangzhong method! This recipe can be made more interesting by marbling cocoa layers to create an interesting swirly marbled effect in the end loaf. It can also be filled with traditional asian fillings such red bean, black bean or mung bean, or it can be filled with chocolate.
Thanks to this blog for the recipe.
Ingredients for tangzhong paste:
25g strong white flour
Ingredients for dough:
All of the tangzhong paste
125 ml whole milk
7g fast action yeast
350 g bread flour
60 g sugar
1 teaspoon or 5g salt
1 large egg
30 g unsalted butter (melted)
(plus an additional egg for brushing on top before baking)
First, make the tangzhong paste (water roux). In a pan, mix the flour with the cold water until there are no lumps. Then, whisk quickly over a low heat until the mixture thickens to a paste. It should be about 65C if you have a thermometer. It should be a white colour, if it’s grey chuck it out and start again.
Cover the tangzhong and place in the fridge until cooled to room temperature.
Next, mix the tangzhong with the milk, melted butter (should be warm but not too hot to touch) and egg. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients, ensuring the salt is not poured directly on top of the yeast.
Mix this until all the flour is roughly incorporated, then tip on to a surface and knead until smooth and very elastic such that you can stretch it paper thin using your fingers (see picture below!). The dough should be a little sticky and difficult to work with initially, but keep kneading and it should become easier to work with. A dough scraper may come in useful too. You can add a little flour but avoid adding too much.
You should be able to stretch the dough quite thin without it breaking easily, like this:
Once you have achieved this, place the dough into a container and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for about an hour, at room temperature.
(above picture is before rising)
Once the dough is more than doubled in size, divide into four roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, then roll up tightly and gently press on the seam to seal. Place this, seam side down, into a baking tin. Repeat this with all the pieces of dough.
Loosely cover the tin with cling film, and let rise at room temperature for about another hour. Before rising, my dough reached about half way up the tin, but see the pictures below for how much it rose!
Brush the dough with beaten egg…
Then bake for about 5-8 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C (at this point the bread should have formed a shiny brown crust), then bake for a further 25 (ish) minutes at 160C. Keep an eye on the baking and cover the loaf with foil once you’ve achieved the desired golden brown colour – this will usually only take about 5-10 minutes to!
Once ready, remove the loaf from the oven and let cool for a bit. Gently remove from the tin and enjoy it warm!
It’s nice to see the spiral pattern on the side of the loaf! The reason the dough is rolled up like that is because this shaping helps to create the surface tension needed for a good oven spring. And as you can see, this bread rises lots!
Thanks for reading and happy baking!!
Also: next week I’m doing a yummy wholemeal seeded version of this!