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Japanese Milk Bread (72% Hydration)

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    Japanese Milk Bread (72% Hydration)

    Japanese Milk Bread (72% Hydration)
    MBM: Modified after King Arthur Baking Company (KAF)

    This recipe is a slightly modified version of KAF’s take on Japan's Hokkaido milk bread, which makes a loaf said to be so light it's often described as feathery. The technique to make it involves pre-cooking some of the flour and milk into a soft paste (roux) called tangzhong. This simple step yields a loaf that’s tender, moist, and stays fresh longer than loaves prepared the standard way. Bread made with tangzhong is sweet, flavorful, and vastly superior to the pre-sliced, plastic-wrapped white bread loaves found on grocery store shelves.

    This exact dough can also be used to make rolls instead of loaves. You might want to check out the KAF web site to see how it's done.

    Makes: 1 sandwich loaf (about 1½ lb./ 690g)
    Takes: Prep: 30 minutes; Bake: 30 to 35 minutes; Proof (resting/rising): 1½ to2½ hours; about 3½ hours total
    Special Tools: 9 or 10-inch loaf pan; stand mixer (optional)

    Ingredients (scale using provided weights as needed for multiple loaves)

    NOTE: The original KAF recipe specified unsalted butter. Here, salted butter is used and salt amounts have been reduced accordingly. (Original amounts are shown if you’d rather use unsalted butter)

    Tangzhong (a slightly thickened light roux, no color added during cooking)
    • 3 TBSP (43g) water
    • 3 TBSP (43g) whole milk***
    • 2 TBSP (14g) KAF Unbleached Bread Flour

    • 2½ cups (298g) KAF Unbleached Bread Flour
    • 2 TBSP (14g) Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
    • ¼ cup (50g) sugar
    • Scant tsp (5g) fine salt (Original: 1 tsp (6g))
    • 1 TBSP (9g) Instant Yeast
    • ½ cup (113g) whole milk ***
    • 1 large egg (assume 50g) per loaf
    • 4 TBSP (57g) salted Land O Lakes butter, melted (Original: unsalted butter)

    ***NOTE: To use reconstituted instead of whole milk, mix ¼ cup (28g) KAF Baker’s Special Dry Milk with 1 cup water to make 1 cup of “whole milk”. KAF says their dried milk won’t reconstitute, but it will be ok for this purpose.


    To Make the Tangzhong
    1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and stir until no lumps remain.
    2. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened and the spoon or whisk leaves “tracks” on the bottom of the pan, about 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the roux to darken.
    3. Transfer the tangzhong to a small mixing bowl or measuring cup and let it cool to room temp.

    To Make the Dough (for best results, proof in a 100ºF (38ºC) oven)
    1. Combine the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients, then mix and knead – by hand, stand mixer, or bread machine – until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
    2. On a lightly floured surface (and with floured hands), shape the dough into a single ball.
    3. Let it rest – seam side down – in a lightly greased (use butter) bowl (the mixer bowl will do), covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in size.
    4. On a lightly floured surface, gently deflate the dough, divide into equal amounts for loaves as needed. then reshape each using a few stretch-and-folds followed by tension pulls.
    5. Using your hands and without deflating any further, gently shape each dough ball into an oblong to roughly fit the loaf pan(s).
    6. Place each oblong dough ball – seam side down – in a lightly greased (use butter) 9" x 5" loaf pan.
    7. Cover each loaf and allow it to rest/rise for 40 to 50 minutes, until puffy.
    8. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC).

    To Bake the Bread
    1. Brush each loaf with milk (or an egg wash if you like it darker) and bake it at 350ºF (177ºC) for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's golden brown on top and its internal temp is at least 190°F (88ºC).
    2. Remove each loaf from the oven and cool in the pan until you can transfer it safely to a rack to finish cooling completely.

    Store leftover bread, well wrapped, at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days; freeze for longer storage.

    Click image for larger version

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    That's the recipe I use, but I double it and use half the dough for bread and half for rolls. Sometimes I use a bit more than half the dough to get a taller loaf too. I also cut the amount of sugar by 25% so it's not quite as sweet. That's just my personal preference.

    You can use the dry milk available in most grocery stores, but you may not get quite the rise as with KA's dry milk.

    And folks, MB is right - this is way better than a store bought loaf. I have stopped buying white bread since I started making this recipe.
    Last edited by RonB; October 19, 2021, 11:38 AM.


      My wife has used the KA tangzhong method for rolls and bread, but not this exact recipe. That stuff is just amazing - pillowy and rich doesn't do it justice. Cinnamon rolls, bread, dinner rolls - yes, please. I hope she tries this one!


      • Caffeine88
        Caffeine88 commented
        Editing a comment
        And she has tried it. I stand corrected. Again.

        It was amazing. Might be my favorite roll ever.

      One of my favorite breads. Done both loaf and rolls.



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