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Hokkaido Milk Bread Recipe – How to Make it in 15 Simple Steps

A staple at Asian bakeries, Hokkaido is created by beginning with a cooked starter, also called a tangzhong. This mixture is created by mixing together flour, milk, and water and cooking it on the stove until it is thick and pudding-like in texture. This starter makes the bread soft and springy.

A couple of slices of Hokkaido Milk Bread with coffee and butter.

Hokkaido Milk Bread Recipe

April Freeman
Soft and tender with loads of flavor, Hokkaido Milk Bread is a kind of white bread that hearkens from the nation of Japan.
Prep Time 1 hr 45 mins
Baking Time 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 25 mins
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 10 Slices


  • Small saucepan
  • Electric Mixer
  • Medium-Sized Bowl
  • Small Microwave-Safe Bowl
  • Wire whisk
  • Deep Loaf Pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Rolling Pin


  • ¼ cup Flour
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • ¼ cup Water
  • cups Flour
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Milk Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 1 pc Egg
  • ¼ cup Softened Butter
  • Heavy Cream or Melted Butter


  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, Mix together the ¼ cup flour, the ¼ cup milk and the ¼ cup water. Stir this constantly for four or five minutes, cooking the ingredients together until it makes a mixture that is the consistency of mashed potatoes.
    Flour, milk and water are mixed in a saucepan.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and put the lid on it. Let it sit out at room temperature for twenty to thirty minutes or until the temperature of the mixture drops to room temperature.
  • Using the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, stir together the 2 ½ cups flour, the ¼ cup sugar, and the yeast, along with the milk powder and the salt.
    The dry ingredients are mixed in a bowl.
  • In a small microwave-safe bowl or a 2 cup measuring cup, microwave the milk for about 25 seconds to bring it to room temperature. Crack the egg into the warm milk and beat them together.
    Milk and egg mixed in a measuring cup.
  • Pour the milk and egg mixture into the flour mixture. Add the pot of the flour mixture that you heated up earlier. Make completely sure that this mixture is not too hot or it will ruin your yeast and the bread will not rise well.
  • Turn on the mixer and, using the dough hook, mix the mixture at low speed for about five minutes. Add the softened butter and mix with the dough hook for another five minutes on low speed. Finally, turn the speed to medium speed and knead the bread dough for a final five minutes.
    A look at the formed dough.
  • By now, the dough should be smooth and elastic and starting to make a dough ball. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and take the dough hook off. Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil over the bread dough along the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough ball so that the entire ball is coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • Punch down the dough and remove it to a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a log shape.
  • Lightly grease a deep loaf pan.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into four equal pieces. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each quarter into an eight by five inch rectangle. Roll the rectangle up from the short side to make a kind of tube.
    The dough is flattened with a rolling pin.
  • Place this tube in the prepared pan with the seam down. Repeat with the remaining dough quarters.
    The rolled dough is placed in a deep loaf pan.
  • Cover the pan with a clean dish towel and let the loaf rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. When the bread dough has risen, brush the top of the dough with heavy cream or melted butter.
  • Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is golden brown.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes before removing it from the pan.


When you cook flour and liquid together, something magical happens in the molecular structure of the mixture. The starch in the flour becomes something like gelatin but doesn’t form any gluten. This enables the flour to absorb more liquid than it would otherwise.
When you can keep plenty of moisture in the bread dough, the end result is a soft, light, and tender loaf. Beginning with a tangzhong is a popular bread-making method that is frequently used in Asian baking.
The dough for this bread is kneaded in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook. If you have made bread before, you may think that the dough is too sticky and will need extra flour. Try to avoid adding any excess flour. The long kneading time can actually help the dough come together in a soft and shiny dough that is the perfect texture. Adding extra flour will just keep the dough from being as soft and fluffy as it should be.
This bread dough is shaped slightly differently than many that you may have made. The dough is divided into fourths and each section is rolled up cinnamon roll style and placed into the pan in different sections. This shaping gives the bread loaf a lovely, unusual shape after it rises and is baked.
Keyword Bread, Breakfast, Recipe

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