If you prefer soft bread over crusty, hard loaves, you will love this Japanese Milk Bread, or Shokupan! It is truly the softest bread, with a light, pillowy texture and a subtle buttery, sweet flavor. It can be eaten on its own as it is, or toasted with butter and jam, or even as a great sandwich bread. This bread can also be used to make dinner rolls, babka, cinnamon rolls, burger buns, and really any kind of soft bread bake you can think of.
Here are the ingredients needed to make this Japanese Milk Bread (exact quantities are in the recipe card below):
- Bread flour - I strongly recommend using bread flour for this recipe as it has higher protein content than all purpose flour and allows making a wet dough that still has structure. If bread flour is not available where you live, you can use all purpose flour, but might need to add 2-3 tablespoon more
- Whole milk
- Active dry yeast or instant yeast
- Granulated sugar to add a bit of sweetness and provide the yeast something to feed on
- Milk powder - I like to use Nido
- Unsalted butter to give the bread a brioche like texture and richness
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE MILK BREAD (SHOKUPAN)
Now let's cover the method. First, watch this short video to see the process in action:
1. Prepare Tangzhong
Tangzhong is a roux or slurry made of flour and milk very commonly used in Japanese breads. It is added to breads as it allows the bread to hold more moisture, keeping it softer and fresher for longer.
To make Tangzhong, simply combine the flour and milk in a nonstick saucepan, stirring to remove any lumps. Stir and cook on low heat until the mixture forms a thick paste.
2. Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cold milk and hot tangzhong, mixing together to create a warm mixture. To this, add the yeast, sugar, milk powder, egg, salt and remaining flour. You can activate the yeast first in the milk, but I find this step to be unnecessary.
Use the dough hook attachment to knead this mixture for 5-7 minutes until it forms a sticky dough which starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl. Then, add the softened butter, and knead for another 5-7 minutes. The dough will feel quite sticky and wet to begin with, but will ultimately become smooth, soft and stretchy, and you should be able to do the window-pane test on it.
Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a clean bowl sprayed with oil, cover with cling wrap, and place in a warm humid spot for 60-90 minutes until it doubles in size.
3. Shape the loaf
Once the dough is proofed, divide it into 3 equal parts. Working one piece at a time, roll into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a thin circle shape, about 8-9" in diameter.
Then fold into thirds so you have a long rectangle. Roll up the rectangle tightly and as neatly as you can so you have a cylindrical shaped mini-loaf. Repeat this for all 3 pieces.
Place the 3 rolls side by side in a greased loaf pan. At this point, I like to do the first egg wash. Combine the egg yolk and milk, and brush generously all over the dough.
Loosely cover and let rise for a second time, for about 30-45 minutes until the dough looks puffed up.
4. Bake the bread
Towards the end of the second rise, pre-heat your oven to 350F (conventional). Once the dough has risen, give it another coating of egg wash, being gentle so as to not disrupt the shape of the bread. The double coating of egg wash will give your bread a beautiful golden shine on it.
Bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes until it has reached a deep golden color.
Congratulations, you have now made a beautiful loaf of bread. You can eat the bread as it is, or slice it up, toast it and eat with butter, jam or other spreads. You can also use it to make sandwiches. Keep the bread tightly wrapped at room temperature for 3-4 days.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Japanese Milk Bread is made with a wet, sticky dough which allows it to have its signature soft texture. Using a stand mixer allows kneading this wet dough easily. However, you can also make it without a stand mixer, although it will be much more work!
Knead the dough using your palms and a dough scraper for about 8-10 minutes. Then add the butter and continue for another 8-10 minutes to incorporate the butter. This will be a sticky mess and difficult work , especially as the heat of your hands will cause the butter to melt. But don't be discouraged and continue, using the dough scraper to bring things together when needed. You will be tempted to add more flour, but don't add more than ~1-2 tablespoon so as to not affect the final outcome.
I strongly recommend bread flour for this recipe, but if you don't have it, you can use all purpose flour instead. You may need to add a little more flour, but don't add more than 1-2 tbsp.
If you enjoy this recipe, also check out the following bread based recipes:Print