Japanese milk bread is the fluffiest and softest bread loaf ever. It’s great on it’s own, with some butter, or a little condensed milk.
Yield: 9x5-inch loaf
Starter: In a medium pot, whisk together bread flour, milk, and water. Set over medium heat and stir often, making sure to stir the bottom edges of the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes until mixture has thickened to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, allowing wrap to lay directly on top of starter mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together bread flour, sugar, yeast, milk powder and salt. Attach dough hook to mixer. Add in 1/2 cup of cooled starter mixture, egg, and milk. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Scape down bowl to ensure thorough mixing.
Add softened butter and continue to knead on low speed for 5 minutes until butter is integrated into dough. Increase speed to medium and knead for another 5 minutes until dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour, or until dough is doubled in volume.
Line a 9 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Grease and set aside. Transfer dough to a lightly floured working surface. Divide dough into four equal parts and roll into balls. Cover dough with plastic wrap as you work to prevent it from drying out or forming a skin.
Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten or roll out dough to a length of about 8-inches and 5-inches wide. Fold in about 1-inch of the sides. Starting from the end closest to you, roll the dough into a log. Place log seam-side down in prepared loaf pan. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Cover loaf pan with plastic wrap and let sit for 30-45 minutes until dough has doubled in volume.
Lightly brush the top of the dough with heavy cream. Bake dough in a 350 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown and internal temperature of bread is at least 190 degrees F.
Let cool in loaf pan for 5 minutes. Unmold bread from loaf pan and allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cool, slice bread accordingly.
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