Japanese Milk Bread Loaf

Japanese Milk Bread
Japanese milk bread

Japanese milk bread is probably the softest bread you’ll ever eat. The first time I ever had it I was both shocked and in love. It’s SO good. It’s tremendously fluffy, like cotton candy in bread form. It’s slightly sweet, but it’s not a dessert bread. I love to eat it with whipped cinnamon butter, without even toasting the bread. It’s like heaven.

Many people have never had or even heard of Japanese milk bread, so I’m here to inform you. If you’ve ever had Brioche, you know how bread can be a little sweet, soft, and rich flavored. I think milk bread and brioche share a lot of similarities in texture and form, but don’t really taste similar.

One of the biggest differences in making Japanese milk bread is that milk bread uses a technique called Tangzhong. You take a small percentage of the milk and flour, cook it slightly creating a roux. You allow that to cool, then add it to the dough. When you cook the flour and milk together, you gelatinize the starches. This results in the bread becoming extra soft, and also it’s able to retain moisture longer keeping the bread from drying out quickly.

Some breads develop a crust on the exterior, and this is not true for milk bread. This loaf will have a slightly hardened top, like a sandwich loaf, that softens as it cools. This bread is a must bake for soft bread lovers.

One tip I want to give while baking this bread is allow extra time. I always knead my dough a little bit extra, let the dough proof until it’s really doubled in size both times and it’s always worth it. I have made this recipe many many times as it is a favorite in our home. The extra time will give you fluffier and softer results. You can also make this recipe as Soft Milk Bread Buns, Milk Bread Chocolate Babka, or Chocolate Malt Milk Buns.

This loaf can be baked in a regular 8.5×4.5″ loaf pan or you can use a pullman loaf pan which has straight sides which is more traditional. I use this one without the lid. You can bake it with the lid on as well, that is a popular way to make milk bread, however you may need different shaping.

Japanese Milk Bread Key Ingredients

  • Milk – Make sure to use 2% or whole milk. We want the fat from the milk to help tenderize the bread.
  • Milk Powder – If you look up other Japanese milk bread recipes, you’ll see this ingredient is common but not always required. It IS an optional ingredient, but I think it makes a big difference in the texture of the bread.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter still lends flavor and fat, helping make this bread soft, soft soft!
Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese Milk Bread Loaf

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep: 45 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Proofing Time: 4 hours
Servings: 1 loaf



  • 15 g Bread Flour ~2 tbsp
  • 80 g Whole or 2% Milk ⅓ cup


  • 315 g AP or Bread Flour 2¾ cups
  • 25 g Granulated sugar 2 tbsp
  • 2 tsp Instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp Baker's Dry Milk
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 large Egg room temperature
  • 120 g Whole or 2% Milk ½ cup, warm
  • 42 g Unsalted butter 3 tbsp, softened


  • Prepare the tangzhong. Mix together, 15g flour, and 80g of milk in a small saucepan. Put the saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk constantly. When the whisk starts to leave trails where you can see the bottom of the pan, it is done. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer with your dough hook attached, add flour, baker's dry milk, yeast, salt, sugar, egg, and milk. Mix on low until a shaggy dough forms.
  • Stop the mixer, cover the bowl for 10 minutes and allow the dough to rest.
  • After 10 minutes, one tbsp at a time, add softened butter. Let butter fully incorporate into the dough until adding the next.
  • Knead dough on low until dough is very smooth and no longer sticking to the sides. Anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
  • When dough is ready, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Allow dough to rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  • Prepare a 8.5×4.5" or 9×4 pullman loaf pan with parchment.
  • Punch down the dough and remove it from bowl. Divide dough into 4 equal parts.
  • Shape dough piece into a rectangle and roll out into a long skinny rectangle. The width of the dough should be about the width of your pan. Roll up the dough into a log.
  • Place seam side down into the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  • Cover the pan and allow dough to rise again for about another 45 minutes-1 hour, or until dough has puffed significantly to about twice in size.
  • About 20 minutes (more or less depending on your oven) into the second proof, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • When loaf is ready, place on the middle rack of your oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. A thermometer inserted into the bread should read 190°F.
  • Remove the bread from the pan to a wire cooling rack within 5-10 minutes. Let bread cool at least 30 min before eating. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
  1. Pingback:Soft Milk Bread Buns › Bread Baking Babe

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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