Japanese Milk Bread, also known as Hokkaido Milk Bread and Shokupan Bread is a recipe you NEED in your book. Soft like a pillow and with a longer counter life than most loaves, this delicious white sandwich bread will be the perfect addition for your breakfast!
Every single time I bake this loaf is paradise. Japanese Milk Bread is the fluffiest, lighter, tender bread you can ever come across in your life. This bread is dangerous: I can’t stop eating after the first slice.
This bread is perfect for sandwiches and toast, and stays soft for days after baking thanks to the tangzhong method. It’s not a complicated recipe to make, and after your first Shokupan, you’ll never want to buy sandwich bread again.
Why Bake This Recipe
- Shokupan bread is SUPER SOFT;
- You’re looking for a hokkaido bread made with all-purpose flour;
- You want a loaf that’s perfect for sandwiches and toast;
- Japanese milk bread has a longer counter life than most bread.
- This Shokupan has an extra milky in taste thanks to my secret ingredient!
What Is The Tangzhong Method
Tangzhong is the term used for the mixture of semi-cooked flour and water. It’s a water roux, and it’s the first thing you’ll need to do to make Japanese milk bread.
Using this technique is what adds fluffiness to your bread and keeps it from drying out. It’s easy to do so don’t worry, you can easily make this roux in a microwave in less than 5 minutes.
Why Add Dry Milk To This Recipe
Dry milk helps create a tender loaf of bread and gives it a stronger milky flavor.
If you don’t have milk powder, you can still make this bread: substitute it for 3 tablespoons more of flour. But try not skipping this ingredient, if possible!
How To Make It
For this recipe to work perfectly, be sure to:
- measure correctly dry ingredients, specially all-purpose flour;
- knead dough until you get a good windowpane.
1. Make the tangzhong base. For this, we’ll need ½ cup of water plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Whisk ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl until there are no lumps remaining. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds, stop and whisk it. Do it again 2 times more, always remembering to pause and whisk between each time. You’ll end up with a smooth and pudding-like starter, as you can see below.
2. Mix dry ingredients. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer if using one, mix all dry ingredients: flour, milk powder, instant yeast, sugar and salt.
3. Mix wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, mix the tangzhong base with egg and whole milk. Don’t add butter to this mixture.
4. Make the dough. Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until dough is formed.
5. Add butter and knead. Add room temperature butter and knead the dough for 5 minutes if doing it with a stand mixer, 8 to 10 minutes if doing it by hand. Dough should feel slightly tacky, and if doing using a stand mixer, stick to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides.
6. First rise. Let the dough rest in a warm spot, covered, for 1h to 1h and 30 minutes, or until it doubles.
7. Divide dough. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces.
8. Shape dough. In a floured counter, roll each piece open, as shown in the photo below (8a). Then roll each strip of dough into a cylinder (8b), and pinch ends to seal. When arranging into the loaf pan, remember to place the pinched side facing down, with the spiral against the long side of the pan.
9. Second rise. Let the dough rest again for 1 hour, or until it almost doubles (9a). Dough should look puffy when ready (9b).
10. Bake it. Bake Shokupan for 35 to 40 minutes at 350°F, until top has a deep golden brown color. Don’t bake at a higher temperature, and bake for at least 30 minutes or it will be undercooked in the middle. Wait for at least 1 hour before slicing, so Shokupan will be cooled and fully cooked.
For open and shaping the dough, you can make it as described here and in the recipe card, or you can make it the way I show in the video. Both ways work, but by dividing the dough before rolling it open, you get even pieces.
Also, dividing into 4 pieces gives this bread even more structure, which is good as it’s made with all-purpose flour. But 3 pieces works as well.
Tips For The Best Shokupan Bread
- If the dough is too sticky, try kneading more. That is valid specially if you’re doing it by hand! This dough feels tacky, but it gets easier to work with the more you knead it. So before adding more flour, knead a few minutes more.
- Add more flour just if the dough is impossible to work with. Resist the urge to add more flour if the dough is a bit stickier than what you see in the photos. For this bread, is better to add less than more flour: the more you add, the denser your Japanese milk bread can get. If you absolutely NEED to add more, start with ¼ cup.
- Measure your flour CORRECTLY. If not using a scale, first fluff the flour with a spoon. Then, instead of scooping the flour directly with a cup, use a spoon to add the flour to the cup until it reaches the top. Lastly, level off the top with a knife. That way will give you a more accurate measurement.
- Don’t overwork your dough while rolling it open, or you risk ending up with a dense, tough loaf. Be gentle and be quick. Roll it open just once, roll it closed, and don’t sweat it if the shape is not exactly perfect. Practice makes bread baking better, you’ll get it right next time.
- The dough will rise considerably in the oven If you want a perfectly shaped bread, use a deep 9x4 inch loaf pan.
- If you don’t end up with 4 perfectly equal rolls: leave the bigger ones in the middle to get a more beautiful shape.
- Remove Shokupan from loaf pan as soon as is out of the oven. I f you let it cooling while in the baking pan, your milk bread might become soggy.
Storing and Freezing
Let shokupan bread cool for 1 to 2 hours before slicing. Store it in an air thigh container or bread keeper, so your bread will keep soft for longer. This loaf is good for about 5 to 7 days after baked.
For freezing, I prefer to freeze this loaf already sliced. Store slices into a freezer safe bag, pushing all the air outside before sealing. Keeps for 3 months in the freezer.
To reheat, just pop it in the toaster. You can also use your oven, preheated on medium temperature: 5 minutes will usually be enough. If reheating in microwave, 30 to 40 seconds per slice should do.
What To Eat With
Shokupan bread makes the most fabulous toast you’ll ever eat - and I’m not exaggerating. Spread a generous amount of butter on it. Top with your favorite jam to make it perfect.
Japanese milk bread also makes great bread for sandwiches, and along with this onion chutney, it will make the perfect grilled cheese.
This bread is also perfection for French toast. Use it to get an outstanding result.
This recipe can be baked in other 2 different ways:
- Dinner rolls: divide dough into 12 pieces, shape each piece into a tight ball, place them into a lined baked pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 375°F.
- Condensed milk and almond milk bread: fill the dough with almond slices (½ cup) and condensed milk (⅓ cup) after step 8A. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, 350°F
More Sandwich Bread Recipes
Japanese Milk Bread (Shokupan)
- 3 cups 370g plus 3 tablespoons (25g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup 120g water
- ½ cup 120g whole milk
- 3 tablespoon 25g milk powder
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoon 6g instant yeast
- 2 tablespoon 25g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon 6g salt
- 3 tablespoon 43g unsalted butter, room temperature
- Start by making the tangzhong base. In a microwave-safe bowl, add ½ cup of water plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Whisk ingredients until there are no lumps remaining. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds, stop and whisk it. Repeat 2 times more, always remembering to pause and whisk. Mixture will be smooth and pudding-like when ready. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer if using one, mix all dry ingredients: flour, milk powder, instant yeast, sugar and salt.
- In a medium bowl, mix the tangzhong base with egg and whole milk.
- Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until dough is formed.
- Add room temperature butter and knead the dough for 5 minutes if doing it with a stand mixer, 8 to 10 minutes if doing it by hand. Dough should feel slightly tacky, and if doing using a stand mixer, stick to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides.
- Let the dough rest in a warm spot, covered, for 1h to 1h and 30 minutes, or until it doubles.
- Line and grease with butter a deep 9x4 inch loaf pan.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. In a floured counter, roll each piece open, then roll each strip of dough into a cylinder, and pinch ends to seal. When arranging rolled dough into the loaf pan, remember to place the pinched side facing down, with the spiral against the long side of the pan.
- Let the dough rest again for 1 hour, or until it almost doubles. Dough should look puffy when ready.
- Bake shokupan for 35 to 40 minutes at 350°F, until top has a deep golden brown color. Don’t bake at a higher temperature, and bake for at least 30 minutes or it will be undercooked in the middle.
- Wait for at least 1 hour before slicing, so bread will be cooled and fully cooked.