Japanese Milk Bread Rolls
The Ultimate Dough Pillow

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Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

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Tangzhong (starter)
43 gr Milk
43 gr Water
14 gr Plain Flour
298 gr Plain Flour
14 gr Powdered Milk
50 gr Crystal Sugar
9 gr Instant Yeast
5 gr Salt
113 gr Milk
1 large Egg
57 gr + 1/2 tsp for brushing the rolls Butter
1 Egg
14 gr Milk

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  • 3 h
  • Serves 9
  • Medium


Yes, this is the ultimate dough pillow. It’s Japanese and it’s called Hokkaido and it will probably be the most soft bread you have every tasted. So fluffy that you almost don’t want to eat it. And, please keep in mind, that the started of the dough, called tangzhong also keeps the bread good for a few days, so you don’t have to panick and eat all of them at once. It is hard to resist, but you can leave some for tomorrow as well.

Perfectly covered with a nice, soft crust, a sweet-salty inside with rich milk taste and a firm bottom that gives a nice kick, these Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are the definion of a perfect soft bun. I tried a lot of recipes and a lot kinds of varities and finaly I came across one that is a wonder. On kingarthurflour.com made also by CleoButtera there is a recipe than made my dreams come true. I only had to change 2 minor things because I was “smart” enough not to have full milk in the house when I decided to make bread and everythin went according to the plan. Now regarding the looks of my buns, yes, I have to practice more and try harder to make them pretty, but somehow I am always in a hurry with them. So don’t jusge at how they look like but think about all those moments in your life when a soft, delicious bun could make your day. I mean it, these fluffy dough clouds can make you smile and enjoy food like never before.


As I said before, the original recipe asks for bread flour and full milk, but I ued hal-full milk and normal flour and it worked just fine. 

The dough is sticky so use a little oil on you hands. 

Don’t follow your instincts and do not add more flour. It will make them less puffy. Although, if you consider the dough too soft add 1/2 tbsp at a time. 

Use a kitchen scale and a bench scraper. They make your recipe perfect and your life easier.

Do not deflate the dough too hard. I might have left it a bit too puffy, but the secret is to not destroy all the air bubbles in there.

Let the dough puff until light like a cloud.

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We start with making sort of a roux. Mix in a sauce pan the water, milk and flour and whisk until everything is dissolved. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until it reached a thick, but not quite like a roux, consistency. Remove from fire, put it in a bowl, cover with plastic foil and place in the refrigerator until you get everything ready for the next step. The tangzhong needs to reach room temperature.


The Dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer combines the flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and yeast. In a separate bowl mix the milk, egg, melted butter and cooled tangzhong. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and knead using the dough hook. The kneading procees is very important, because you need to obtain an elastic and fluffy dough. Knead on low for 5 minutes than go to medium-low for the next 15-20 minutes.


You know that the dough is ready when it feels a little bit sticky but you can handle it if you rub your hand with a little oil. You can also try the Windowpane Test - cut off a small piece of the dough, hold it with both hands between your thumb and first two fingers and gently spread your fingers and thumbs apart, stretching the dough into a thin membrane. If it doesn't break it's ready to go, if it breaks in circles it is also good, but if it breaks very fast or it tears than it's time for some more kneading.


When it's done, place you dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic foil and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in volume. Mine is way more than double and very, very puffed.


Remove from the bowl and spread, with your hands, in a 8 inch square. Gently divide in 9 equal parts. As you can see I did not make such a great job at dividing, so next time I will use a scale.


Use baking spray in a 10 inch tray (round or square) and start forming round balls. Gently flatten the dough, bring the corners and edges to the center (this is going to be the bottom of your buns). Move your hand in small circular motions making very round smooth-surfaced balls. I still have to work on this technique and I really need to weigh my dough and measure better. Next time, I promise!


Place buns in the tray, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise again in a warm place for 60 minutes.


Egg Wash

Preheat your oven at 180 C. Mix in a small bowl the eggs and the milk and using a brush apply a light coat of egg wash over your buns. This will make them shine bright like a diamond! Bake buns immediately for 25 to 30 minutes until brown on top.


Remove from the oven and let them cool off for 10 minutes. Take out from the tray and let them cool completely on a rack. Cut in half and enjoy with sweet raspberry jam, flavoured garlic and herbs butter or kust like us, with pulled pork and sriracha sauce. Absolutely fantastic!


I am Adriana and I love food, as you can probably see from what I cook. I like to bake and I like to experiment with new tastes, and my 2016 resolution is to try to cook healthy and special meals every day.

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