Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Also referred to as Hokkaido milk bread, these rolls are incredibly soft and airy thanks to a simple technique involving a roux "starter," known as tangzhong. The roux is mixed into the final dough, producing wonderfully tender bread each and every time.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
25 to 30 mins
Total
3 hrs 57 mins
Yield
8 to 10 rolls, depending on size
Japanese Milk Bread Rolls - select to zoom
Japanese Milk Bread Rolls - select to zoom
Japanese Milk Bread Rolls - select to zoom
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Instructions

  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

  2. To make the tangzhong: Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.

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  3. Place the saucepan over low heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  4. Transfer the tangzhong to a small mixing bowl or measuring cup and let it cool to room temperature.

  5. To make the dough: Combine the tangzhong with the remaining dough ingredients, then mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

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  6. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

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  7. Gently deflate the dough, divide it into 8 equal pieces (for large rolls) or 10 equal pieces (for medium-sized rolls), and shape each piece into a ball.

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  8. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 8" or 9" round cake pan. Cover the pan, and let the rolls rest for 40 to 50 minutes, until puffy.  

  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the rolls with milk or egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water), and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top; a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the middle roll should read at least 190°F.

  10. Remove the rolls from the oven. Allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Tips from our Bakers

  • With origins in Japan's yukone (or yudane), tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Taiwanese cookbook author Yvonne Chen. Tangzhong involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which makes them more able to retain liquid — thus enhancing the resulting bread's softness and shelf life.

  • To make a loaf: After the dough's initial rise, divide it into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle, then fold the short ends in towards one another like a letter. Flatten the folded pieces into rectangles again and, starting with a short end, roll them each into a log. Place the logs in a row of four — seam side down and side by side — in a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan. Cover the loaf and allow it to rest/rise for 40 to 50 minutes, until puffy. Brush the loaf with milk or egg wash and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads at least 190°F. Remove the loaf from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

  • This soft dough lends itself beautifully to fried doughnuts. After the dough has risen once, hop on over to our Yeast-Raised Doughnuts recipe and start at step #3 to see how it's done.

    Join pastry chef Gesine Bullock-Prado as she demonstrates how to make Yeast-Raised Doughnuts out of this dough from start to finish. Watch Episode 7 of the Isolation Baking Show now.

    Japanese Milk Bread Rolls – Tip: Doughnuts