This Hokkaido Milk Bread isn’t a newly invented recipe. I have seen dozens of recipes for this bread in recent years. These recipes in general fall into two groups: the first group follows the regular bread-making method, while the second group applies Tangzhong method (or Water roux), which is famous for its ability to make the bread super soft and tender.
The recipe that I am sharing in this post belongs to the first group, which use traditional bread-making methods, hence, very straight-forward and easy-to-follow. Despite of the absence of Tangzhong, the texture and taste of the bread are still incredible. I introduced this recipe to my Vietnamese blog readers (in my other blog: Savoury Days) three years ago and till now, it is still among the most beloved recipes with hundreds of positive feedback from people who tried it (and fell in love with it).
The key ingredient of this bread is whipping cream, which gives the bread the amazing milky smell with super soft, fluffy and tender texture. Hence, although in some cases, whipping cream can be substituted by butter and milk, I would not recommend doing that in this recipe.
HOKKAIDO MILK BREAD RECIPE
TOOLS: 2 loaf pans or 2 bread pans (25cm long each)
INGREDIENTS (adapted from Angie’s recipes)
- 540 gram (4 C plus 2 Tbsp) bread flour
- 60 gram (1/2 C) cake flour
- 10 gram (1 Tbsp) instant yeast
- 30 gram (3-1/2 Tbsp) dried milk powder
- 80 gram (1/2 Cup minus 1-1/2 Tbsp) caster sugar
- 1.5 teaspoon (8 gram) salt
- 1 egg medium size (50 gram, excluding shell)
- 250 ml (1 C plus 2 tsp) milk
- 150 ml (1/2 C plus 2 Tbsp) whipping cream
– If you don’t have bread flour and cake flour, you can substitute them entirely with all-purpose flour.
– Prepare extra 20 gram cake flour to coat (if you will be kneading dough by hands)
– If you don’t have dried milk powder, you can leave it out and use a bit more flour (10 – 15 gram/ 2 – 3 tsp). However, milk powder deepens the milky flavor of the bread quite a lot so it’s better to include it in the recipe. Don’t buy the milk powder for babies or toddlers as it’s very expensive. Normally, I buy the milk powder that is used to mix with coffee.
Note: the video is in HD setting and has English subtitle, please press CC to activate it.
– In the video, I only make half of the above recipe.
– The yeast used in the video is instant yeast, hence, it does not need to be activated. However, if you use dry yeast and not instant, you will need to activate it in advance. Instructions on how to activate yeast is in step (1) below.
1. Warm up milk to about 35 – 40°C/ 95 – 105°F ideally (must not be any hotter than that, it could kill or deteriorate the yeast’s activeness). Add 5 gram/ 1 tsp sugar and the entire amount of yeast to the milk, stir gently. After 5-10 mins, the yeast will have absorbed the liquid to activate and begin to rise to the surface, producing a foamy layer like the picture below. If the yeast doesn’t rise then either your yeast is spoiled and unusable, or the milk is too hot and has probably killed the yeast. In either case, just discard the mixture and/or spoiled yeast and start all over again.
2. Put bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk evenly together.
3. In another bowl, combine the egg and whipping cream. Add the yeast and milk mixture, mix well together.
4. Slowly transfer the egg and milk mixture (3) into the flour bowl (2). Combine well with a spoon. After all the ingredients have come together, you should get a lumpy mixture.
A. Kneading by hands:
– Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and set aside for 20-30 mins. This step’s purpose is to enable the dough to absorb the moisture and build some initial gluten chains, which will mitigate the dough’s stickiness, making it easier to knead.
– Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands (or knead with a bread-mixer for an equal amount of time). If you press your finger into the dough, it should spring back.
The Hokkaido milk bread dough is rather moist, kneading it by hands entails some patience. You can use flour to coat, but only little by little, avoid adding too much from the early step, which could dehydrate and harden the dough. After 5-10 mins of kneading, the dough should become much less sticky. Eventually, it should feel moist to the touch, but no longer stick to your hands, and can easily be handled.
In the last minutes of this kneading stage, I use the dough slamming technique. For dough with high moisture, slamming the dough against the surface is an effective method to enhance the gluten formation, increasing its resilience. For visualise instructions, see video above.
* Note: Different flours have different levels of moisture absorption. This dough is high in liquid content, but not too moist, and can absolutely be handled by hands. If your dough seems excessively sticky, then your flour may be less water-absorbent. In this case, you can add more coating flour, but try to add as little as possible, because the dough will dry up during the kneading process.
In contrast, if the dough feels dry and hard or stiff when you knead it, add 1 – 2 tsp milk and continue kneading until it’s softer and more flexible. Note that higher hydration is better for bread dough as water helps bread rise better and gives softer, moister texture.
B. Kneading with bread mixer:
Transfer the whole mixture into the mixing bowl, start at low speed then gradually raise speed to medium. Mix for 12-15 mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If dented by your finger, the dough should spring back. Be careful not to overmix, since the gluten structure might be dwindled.
6. Primary fermentation: Use a big bowl, grease the inside with a thin layer of oil. Turn over the dough inside the bowl so that the oil evenly covers the entire dough surface. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let proof at room temperature (25-32°C/ 77-90°F) until the dough has doubled in size.
* Note: There’s no fixed fermentation time, because the dough’s rising pace depends on the ambient temperature. “Until the dough has doubled in size” is the most accurate benchmark. You can also test the dough by poking it with 2 fingers, about 1-2 cm deep. If the dough stably holds the indent, then the dough is properly fermented. If the indent starts to fill back in, you need to let it proof for a bit longer.
7. Shaping: After the dough has doubled in size, gently press the heel of your palm into the dough to force some gas out of it. Transfer the dough to worktop, quickly knead for 1-2 mins.
At this point, depending on your preferences and what you’re after, you can shape your bread into a large sandwich loaf; or divide the dough into smaller pieces (scale to make sure they’re equal) and roll them up into bread rolls.
I’ll hereby be giving you instructions on how to shape a loaf of smaller rolls. I used ½ of the ingredients amount, which perfectly fit a 25 cm loaf pan. After the first fermentation and brief kneading, I rescaled the dough and divided it evenly into 4 small pieces (approximately 140 gr each).
At this step, the dough is very smooth and not sticky at all (if it still feels sticky, you can add some more coating flour). Roll each peace out into thin rectangles. When rolling, the dough may slightly spring back, which is a normal phenomenon. The best way to deal with this is rolling out all 4 pieces, then letting them rest for 2-3 mins so the stretched gluten strings can “rest”. Then come back to the first piece, roll them again before shaping, the dough should be less springy by now.
Here’s how to shape each dough roll: Roll the dough along the longer edge (or fold each 1/3 or ¼ of the dough over one another). We will get a “fat roll” then.
With a roller, flatten each of these fat rolls and roll them up again to get the final roll.
After you’ve finished shaping all the rolls, line them up inside the loaf pan. If your pan isn’t non-stick, grease the inside with either melted butter or oil so the bread won’t stick into the pan
8. Final fermentation: Let the shaped breads proof in a warm and humid place, until they have doubled in size. I placed mine in the oven by preheating it at 50°C/ 122°F for about 3 mins, then turned it off. Place a glass of boiled water inside the oven to assure sufficient humidity, preventing bread surface to dry up. Ideal temperature should stay between 33 – 38°C/ 91 – 100°F, it must not be any hotter, which could weaken or deteriorate the yeast’s activeness.
Preheat oven before baking for about 15 mins, at 170°C/ 338°F (top and bottom heat). Since preheating takes some time, you can start preheating when the breads have risen by 70-80%. When the oven reaches its needed temperature, your breads will have finished proofing as well. (Don’t forget to take the breads out before turning on the oven if you’re letting them proof in there.)
9. Bake at 170 – 175°C/ 338 – 350°F for approximately 30 – 40 mins until the top is dark golden brown. If the bread turns dark too quickly, cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil to avoid the bread getting burned. Don’t overbake the bread because it’ll make the bread dry with thick crust.
10. Once the bread is done, take it out of the pan. For the final glow and delicious aroma of the bread, you can brush the top of the bread with some melted butter or whipping cream. Brush little by little so the butter or cream has time to be evenly absorbed.
This bread can be eaten warm, but if you wish to slice it like how you do a sandwich loaf, then you have to wait for it to completely cool, otherwise the inside of the bread can get sticky to the cut.
Store in completely sealed box/bag, in a cool place. Good to eat for about 1-2 days.
Hokkaido milky buns – my favourite for breakfast (and dinner, also )