July 1, 2021

Milk Bread Loaf

Milk Bread Loaf

I've been making this Japanese shokupan or milk bread at least twice a week now for the last several months. And while each time I seem to get a different hump shape (ugly-cute in my opinion), this bread recipe is probably one of the easiest out there and is so rewarding! For those of you like me who aren't bread bakers, I would definitely start with this bread. I've branched out a bit by making stuffed buns using the same bread recipe.

Growing up in Singapore with Japanese bakeries on practically every corner, milk bread was always something we got as a special treat, being far more expensive than our regular white bread at the local market. Using a pullman loaf pan would create a taller and narrower loaf, but if you only have a regular loaf pan those work perfectly well too. Ah, the simple pleasures of bread baking :)

Milk Bread Loaf

Looking for a practically foolproof bread that comes out perfectly each and every time? This Japanese Milk Bread loaf is just the thing!


Shilpa Iyer













For the starter (tangzhong)

  • 2 Tbsp bread flour
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 4 Tbsp water

For the dough -

  • 113g milk (1/2 cup), boiled and returned to room temperature
  • 300g bread flour (2.5 cups)
  • 10g dry milk powder (1.5 Tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoon butter, softened

For the bun topping

  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp of water for the egg wash


  1. To make the tangzhong or starter, in a small pot, combine the flour, milk and water and stir gently and continuously over low heat until there are no lumps. The mix will eventually come together and form a gel-like substance. This takes about 2 minutes and you'll know it is done when your spatula leaves lines at the bottom of the pot as you stir. Set aside.
  2. In a separate small pot, bring the milk to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Set aside until it cools down to room temperature.
  3. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast and salt and whisk until well combined.
  4. Once the scalded milk has returned to room temperature, add the tangzhong and egg to the milk and whisk until well incorporated.
  5. With the stand mixer on low, pour the milk-egg mixture gently into the dry ingredients.
  6. Continue mixing for approximately 5-7 minutes until a smooth, soft dough forms. The dough should feel elastic and stretch a bit when pulled.
  7. With the dough hook running on low, add the softened butter until it incorporates completely into the dough. Approximately 4-5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the dough into a bowl and cover loosely with a towel. This can be done on a kitchen counter.
  9. Allow the dough to rise, which should take approximately 1.5-2 hours. Alternatively, the dough may be placed in the refrigerator overnight to rise at a slow pace.
  10. Once the dough has risen slightly after 1.5-2 hours, divide the dough equally into 4 balls. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball and fold the dough like a letter into 1/3. Then roll this 1/3 folded dough flat and shape them into a roll, like this. Place each roll into a pullman loaf pan, fitting all four rolls snugly. Cover the loaf loosely with a cloth. If the dough was refrigerated overnight, allow the dough to come to room temperature (approximately 1 hour) before proceeding with shaping the rolls.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  12. Allow the shaped rolls to rise a second time, this time for approximately 1 hour. The dough should leave a small indent but spring back slightly when pressed.
  13. Brush the egg wash on each of the four humps and place the loaf into the oven.
  14. Bake the loaf for approximately 30 minutes until they are golden on top.

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