The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

Floydm's picture

Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

Every now and then you learn a new technique in the kitchen that really knocks your socks off.  Tangzhong is one of them.


Tangzhong is the technique of heating a portion of the flour and liquid in your recipe to approximately 65C to make a paste (roux).  At this temperature the flour undergoes a change (gelatinizes?).  Adding this roux to your final dough makes a huge difference in the softness and fluffiness of your final dough.

It is really easy to do a tangzhong.  Take 1 cup of liquid (milk or water) to 1/3 cup flour, or a 5 to 1 liquid to solid ratio (so 250g liquid to 50g flour) and mix it together in a pan.  Heat the pan while stirring constantly.  Initially it will remain a liquid, but as you approach 65C it will undergo a change and thicken to an almost pudding like consistency.  

Once it is evenly thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool down some before making your final dough.  

Reportedly you can cover it and keep it in the fridge for a few days before using it, but I baked with it immediately.

Hokkaido Milk Bread

We have some great Asian bakeries in Vancouver and they all make some version of a Milk Bread.  Soft, slightly sweet, often baked in pullman pans so that the slices are perfectly square, sometimes containing raisins or a swirl of red beans or cream cheese, milk bread is the ultimate comfort food. It has a tenderness I've never reproduced at home until now.  I always figured it was a ton of oil or some other artificial conditioner that gave it that consistency, but now I think Tangzhong and heavy kneading were the secret. 

My recipe is a hybrid of a bunch of different recipes I found online and credit below.  What I offer here is a good place to start but certainly not an authoritative version or one I'd suggest is the best.  Still, it was awfully good.




1/3 C all purpose flour

1 C liquids (I used 2/3 C water and 1/3 C milk)

Final Dough

800g (around 5 C) all purpose flour

1/2 C sugar

50g (1/2 C) milk powder

1/2 C half and half

3/4 C milk

2 eggs

4 T butter

4 t instant yeast

1 t salt

all of the tangzhong

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or standmixer and mix the heck out of it, 10 or 15 minutes, until the dough is silky and smooth.  I didn't initially add enough liquid so my dough was quite dry, but by adding more to the bowl and using wet hands I was able to work more milk and water into the dough.  

Once you've kneaded the dough well, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, roughly an hour.

Divide the dough into smaller portions.  I divided it into 8 ~210g pieces, which I baked 4 to a pan in 2 pans.  As you can see, that was a bit much for the pans I have!  Next time I think I'll divide the dough into 12 pieces and bake it in the 3 pans. 

Cover the pans loosely and allow to rise for half an hour, then glaze with milk or an egg wash.

Heat the oven to 350F while letting the loaves rise another 15-30 minutes.  

Baking the loaves at 350F for approximately 40 minutes.  If they are browning too much, you can cover them loosely with foil.

Look at that crumb!  Absolutely the softest, silkiest loaves I've ever made.

Further reading/discussion about Hokkaido Milk Bread and Tang Zhong:


dstroy's picture

I just ate the last slice with some honey. You need to make this again soon!


Wonder what other things can be tried with this - certainly sweetened cream cheese and raisins, and red bean paste, and I still think a few small mini-chocolate chips or a swirl of nutella would be awesome....  I like how it's barely sweet but not heavy.

PDLarry's picture

taro paste, if you're a fan.

dabrownman's picture

pretty fluffy bread you got there Floyd.  I'd be tempted to put some on a stick, quit buying Q-tips or cotton candy!  That is quite an example of soft and shreddable. 

Nice baking.

nicodvb's picture

of flour or cotton? :)  Impressive! It really looks incredibly soft. I don't doubt it is.

Noah Erhun's picture
Noah Erhun

Beautiful loaves! 

Going to have to try this one 


sandydog's picture

The Tangzhong method, as outlined above, reminds me very much of the Whole Wheat Mash Bread in Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book (Page 195) - Without  most of the enrichment items - I've made it, and I like it.                                                   In his book he gives credit to what he calls the "Chinese soup seed technique" and explains other ways to use it.

I am constantly amazed at my own tiny knowledge, when made aware of techniques that have been around for hundreds (If not thousands) of years, it's amazing how peoples from different countries arrive at the same destination via different routes. 


PDLarry's picture

Tangzhong 湯種 literally means "soup seed" in Chinese although this technique may have been invented in Japan. The Japanese pronunciation is yudane. 

Alpana's picture

Beautiful texture & bread. Isn't tang zhong wonderful?

Tang zhong is the most favoured method in my part of the world as softness of texture is most valued.  I use it extensively to bake breads for friends and my kids. So I am adding my two bits worth.

As your bread shows, tang zhong can be used anytime after preparation with great results, but 3 to 12 hours in fridge brings out the best in it. The cling wrap has to directly touch the tang zhong to avoid skin formation. I don't need to bring it to room temp before using due to hot weather, but it is advised. Tang zhong can be kept in fridge till you see grey substance on it (approximately 3 to 4 days). I have never reached this stage so have not tried removing the grey and using the rest. Tang zhong works great on any flour, but  I have realised that white flour tang zhong, followed by WW tang zhong, gives the fluffiest bread. So if I am going to use a small portion of APF or BF, I use it in tang zhong & make a soaker of whole grain flours, to bring the best softness & flavour. In low gluten flours tang zhong does not really add much value over a hot soaker and taste wise (for me) PR's mash is more effective in these flours. A small portion of cake flour or 00 flour added to white bread made with BF or APF tang zhong gives further tenderness to the crumb making it almost melt in mouth.

Btw, rolls made with tang zhong milk bread and filled with red bean paste are to die for.



Floydm's picture

Great tips, Alpana!  Thanks for sharing.


PS - Don't get me started thinking about red bean buns! I absolutely love them and ate them for breakfast almost every day for two years straight. :)

carblicious's picture

Nice write-up, and the reference links that you used is great.  Thanks for sharing.

grind's picture

Gotta try this.  Thanks for sparking an interest.

SylviaH's picture

I bet this type of bread would make wonderful crispy and tasty Panko Bread Crumbs.  

My first impression of the crumb was it would be a very gentle make-up remover...Just Kidding...but had to say it : )  

I bet Mike would love this bread..I'll have to definately put it on the to do list.


Janetcook's picture

Hi Floyd,

Huge spring on those loaves!  They look great.  It is amazing how a method with the name of 'tangzhong' can sound so complicated yet be so simple to do and the results are really profound.  I have tried this method so can attest to the fact that it does indeed work and really is very simple to implement.  Well worth giving it a try and your loaves prove that point in spades.

And now I am curious about the red bean buns......

Thanks for the post and the great list of references for other tangzhong loaves.

Take Care,


Mebake's picture

Great technique, Floyd!  What a fluffy bread!

Thanks for explaining the technique, much appreciated.

SydneyGirl's picture

There are a lot of Chinese bakeries in Sydney. As someone who's grown up on European homemade breads the texture of their yeasted doughs has always baffled me - too light and fluffy. I have been wondering whether additives were used. This techniques explains it! Thanks Floyd.

lazybaker's picture

I tried the recipe yesterday. I just had a deep dental cleaning, so I was looking for something soft to eat. (Don't make the mistake of putting off routine dental cleanings like me.)

The recipe was easy and foolproof. I shaped them into round buns. Some were filled with Chinese barbecue pork. The family really liked them.

PDLarry's picture

My glorious loaf was made with 25% TangZhong! The bread stayed fluffy and moist for days, assuming the kids don't devour the bread on the first day...

There's a whole book on it, except it's in Chinese. Looks like you can make all kinds of breads with this technique.

If you don't have a thermometer,  just watch the surface. When it starts to thicken, the surface will to streak as you stir. Remember to keep stirring/whisking so you don't end up with burned lumps.

varda's picture

and fabulous result from what looks like a fairly straightforward method.   I'm going to have to try this.  -Varda

jyslouey's picture

It's good to see that this method is being discussed again. It was first brought up by Yippee a few years back and I made bread using this technique when I first started bread making. It's a very versatile sweet dough and can be used to make buns with various fillings. I made buns with apple and raisins in cinnamon sugar similar to apple pie filling and the oven spring I got was awesome. I could actually see it rise in the oven and was totally amazed!! I have the tangzhong recipe book recommended by Yippee which unfortunately only comes in Chinese but this is one book that I'll keep!! I'm tempted to try this recipe again after reading this post.


J_R's picture

I made this last weekend and it is absolutely delicious! The recipe was easy to follow and I would encourage anyone with an interest to try it - I am a novice bread maker myself and it turned out great. Thanks so much for posting. I can't wait to try making filled buns with the recipe!

bob13's picture

     As a realtivitly new bread maker, I had never heard of this before so I tried a batch.  All I can say is WOW, what flavor and crumb.  Also took off a little bit of dough, rolled it out spread with butter, brown sugar/cinamon & raisins.  What soft flavorful buns for a first try at them.  Thanks to all of you experienced folks who inspire us newbies with recipes and encouragement.  This one really knocked my socks off after having made a brick or two.  Thanks to one and all of you.

workingmom's picture

I just finished making this bread and they are delicious and pillowy soft. I can't wait to make them again with red bean or taro paste. 

Janet Patterson's picture
Janet Patterson

I have never seen or eaten anything like this. I will have to give this a try.

Malaysiansf's picture

Hi may I know what is half and half and is all purpose flour high protein flour or low protein flour ?  And 4Tbsp of butter equals ?? gm ?  Thank you 


ScottyJM's picture

I make my half and half by using 1/2 milk and 1/2 heavy whipping cream.

here is a link to a converter for gram to cup, teaspoon ect.


Hope this helps you.

ScottyJM's picture
Xiaobao12's picture

Would it be possible to halve this recipe? 

Floydm's picture


LarryTheDouglas's picture

I can't wait to try this later today!

Thanks for sharing!!!

Peggy_Tan's picture

Not sure what is this listed 1/2 C half and half in the final dough - can someone enlighten me?

Thank you


pmccool's picture

Half and half is a dairy product sold in the U.S., Peggy.  It consists of half light cream and half milk, hence the name.  Fat content is between 10.5% and 12%.  If it isn't available where you live, you could blend some cream with some milk to make an equivalent.


honolulubaker's picture

Dear Floyd,

I tried this recipe today and it is OUTSTANDING!!!....Since there's only my husband and myself, I used mini loaf pans and put 2 "rolls" in each...had 6 pans...forgot to glaze...but baked for only 30 minutes...internal temperature was 200F...perfect.

Just wanted to mention that for the tangzhong...if they take it to 150F, it is perfect.

Thank you so much for the recipe...I'm gonna try the Hawaiian Sweetbread next time.

honolulubaker's picture

When you say "mix the heck out of it", what do you use and at what speed?  I had my wisk in and on a medium high speed, but changed to dough hook and reduced speed because my mixer was heating up. 

The dough rose very quickly and was very fluffy...absolutely love this bread!...seems to be "no fail"...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe, techniques and pictures!

do you think it would do well with shaved dark chocolate rolled in like a cinnamon roll?

chitvish's picture

Once  I  sarted  using  tangzhong  method, the  addiction  to  that method is  so strong. I  bake  bread  only  by  that  method. My  breads  come  out  lovely  & perfect !!

chitvish's picture

Once  risen, can part  of  the  tanzhong dough  be  frozen??  If  so,  for  how  long??

Floydm's picture

I haven't tried it with this dough, but freezing should be OK.  

I have no idea how long.  I probably wouldn't go more than a month or two, but you could give it a shot and see what happens.

heathercfsps's picture

This bread and the technique were brand new to me. I just took 2 loaves out...waiting for them to cool a little before pulling them apart! It smells awesome and they look great,  curious to find out if this will be tasty for sandwiches. ?..thanks so much for posting all the fantastic pictures. 

One question....I am sure I read it somewhere, BUT, what is the method for other recipes...meaning,  what is the % of the flour and the the % of liquid? Hope that made sense! 


I lied...2 questions.

For the life of me, i cannot get the awesome oven spring that everyone else see s to have mastered! Any ideas or suggestions would also be greatly appreciated

Thanks for any help

Floydm's picture

"5% of the total flour" is what is recommended again and again.  That said, I haven't experimented to see what happening if you try more (or less).

Speaking of tangzhong and oven spring, did you see this? I haven't gotten that kind of oven spring, but I've got to try that formula and see if I can get something similar.   

heathercfsps's picture

Thanks Floyd, I will do the math on my "regular" household loaves and try the tangzhong method on those (although, I believe the Hokkaido Milk Bread is now going to be a staple here too)....and YES that is an incredible looking loaf of bread! 

Thanks again

Russ's picture

Is it just me or is this dough really sticky and hard to work with? I just made a batch for the first time and it is delicious, but it was a bit of a struggle to shape it. did anyone else run into this, or am I doing something wrong?


Floydm's picture

It is pretty sticky alright.  You can try adding a bit more flour and see if it still produces something you are happy with, but I don't think you are doing anything wrong.   

ruwiskitchen's picture

I made the bread and it was so good but had a problem. The bread was so soft when it was warm but the next day it was hard . I would like to know what went wrong. I kneaded the bread by hand for 15 mins and the half and half was cold. Do you think thats the reason ? Please help. Thank you.


Antilope's picture

but haven't called it that. Heating the flour to around 150-F in water gelatinizes the starch, creating a translucent, unflavored pudding. A cornstarch pudding is similar, it is heated in milk until the starch gelatinizes.

What have we added pudding to for years, to make it more moist? Cakes! Pudding cakes!

Adding a Tangzhong water roux to a bread recipe is similar to adding pudding to a cake recipe, and the result seems to be the same. A more moist, light and fluffy product.

tea berries's picture
tea berries

Can I ask just to make sure about your units, since I am American and moved to Canada, so the mixture of cups and grams makes me want to double-check:




yes? Thanks!

Floydm's picture

Yes indeed.

jenny rae's picture
jenny rae

Can I substitute milk or cream for the milk powder in this recipe?

Floydm's picture

Yes. Reduce water accordingly.

Janekop's picture

just a few things i'd like to share from my past experience(lots of throwing aways!)and the book. In the "Tangzhong" book, it is suggested adding butter after the gluten has formed( the dough has formed and not sticky to the touch) when adding butter too early, it prevents flour from absorbing more water, which makes longer mixing time to create enough gluten (higher dough temperature) then the structure of the dough is not as well developed and hydrated, thus the bread becomes stale faster in room temperature.(About 2 days in a bag in room temperature) the most important thing in making silky and fluffy and longer freshness Tangzhong bread is in the mixing, the book suggests "beating" the dough till "Final Mixing" stage, which means when you take a piece of dough and expand it, it can be extended to as thin as plastic wrap, when it finally breaks, the hole is round without rigged edges, Then the dough is fully developed, after baking, it can be stored in room temperature and it tastes light, silky, and moist for up to 5 days without the help of microwave or toaster (based on my personal experience) , don't ever store bread in refrigerator, you should always store it in a sealed bag in room temp or in freezer.

UnConundrum's picture

Floyd,  I'm surprised by the limited amount of salt (1 teaspoon).  I usually figure on close to 2%.  With about 1K of dry ingredients, I'd expect about 20g where the 1t is a little less that 6g.   Could you have meant 1 Tablespoon?  


Floydm's picture

2% is indeed typical for a French bread or sandwich bread, but those are typically a bit salty to the taste. In this one I didn't want enough salt that is at all detectable, just enough to retard the yeast a bit. So, no, I didn't mean 1 Tablespoon, but you are welcome to add more if you prefer it that way.