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Japanese Milk Bread

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
Author: Maryanne Cabrera

Ingredients

Starter:

  • 3 Tbsp (25 g) bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water

Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups (325 g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon non-fat dry milk powder, optional*
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • heavy cream, as needed for brushing

Instructions

  • Starter: Stir together flour, milk, and water in a microwave safe cup. Mixture will be slightly lumpy. Microwave for 20 seconds. (NOTE: this cooking time refers to a 1100 W microwave.)
    *See notes for directions cooking starter stovetop.
  • Remove from microwave and stir mixture together. Mixture will have thickened. Stir and break up any large clumps of flour. Then, return to microwave and heat for another 20 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir together. Heat for another 15 seconds until mixture is smooth and has thickened to the consistency of mashed potatoes.
    *If needed, return to microwave for another 10 seconds and mix again.
  • Transfer mixture to a cool clean bowl. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes to allow to cool before adding to remaining down ingredients.
  • 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 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.

Notes

  • Milk powder provides additional flavor. It is optional and can be omitted.
  • RECIPE SLIGHTLY ADAPTED FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

Stovetop Starter:

Double the amounts listed in the starter ingredients for stovetop. It is difficult to cook a very small amount in a pot.
  • 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. Cool to room temperature. Use 1/2 cup of starter in the recipe. Discard remaining starter. 
All images and text ©The Little Epicurean