The Fresh Loaf

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Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

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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:


sugarush's picture

Hi Floyd, 



I I Stumbled onto this site just a few days back, and your's is the first recipe I tried. It was simply awesome. But is the dough supposed to be sticky , and I mean STICKY !!!!??? I had to keep adding flour to be able to knead it. Texture was still good though. Could I maybe cut down on the liquid the next time  ? Thanks for a great recipe, and hope to try more of your recipes soon .

Floydm's picture

Yes, it is super sticky.  You certainly can add more flour to it or reduce the liquids though.

Antilope's picture

cutting the quantities in his ingredient list in half (except for the salt) to make one loaf. It turned out great. One of the best loaves of white bread I have ever tasted.

I made it in a unique way due to the summer heat. I used my Zo Virtuoso bread machine dough cycle to knead the bread and for the first rise, adjusting the kneaded dough to proper hydration. Not too sticky and not too dry, a smooth dough that holds its shape. It kneaded for 20 minutes in the bread machine and rose for 45 minutes.

Then I took the dough from the Zo bread machine after the 45 minute rise, formed a traditional Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong loaf and placed it in a regular 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. I formed the dough into 3 rolls in the loaf pan.

Here's where I did something different. I removed the regular mixing bread pan from the Zo bread machine. I replaced it with the standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with the Hokkaido Milk Bread dough. Closed the lid of the machine and let the bread rise 45 minutes (the Zo was unplugged at this point). When the dough had risen about 3/4-inch above the rim of the loaf pan, I brushed the top of the loaf with an egg wash and started the manual bake cycle on the Zo bread machine. It was programmed to bake 70 minutes.

At the end of the bake cycle, I took out a perfect loaf of Hokkaido Milk Bread. The best thing, it didn't heat up the house. So you can make a conventional loaf of bread in a standard 9 x 5-inch loaf pan in a Zo Virtuoso bread machine, it does fit. This is about the 10th time I have made bread in a conventional loaf pan in the Zo. First time making the Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe in the Zo.

Here is Floyd's ingredient list, cut in half for one loaf (I added more salt)

Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong for one loaf


3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 C liquids (I used 5 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp milk)
(Mixed well in a plastic cup and heated in microwave 25 seconds, stir, heat 15 seconds more, stir - 65C/149F done)

Final Dough
400g (3 1/3 Cups) all purpose flour
50g (1/4 Cup) white granulated sugar
25g (1/4 Cup) milk powder
1/4 Cup half and half
1/3 Cup milk (plus a Tbsp or two more if needed)
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp table salt

all of the tangzhong

Picture of rising Hokkaido Milk Bread dough in conventional 9x5-in loaf pan in Zo Virtuoso - prior to baking in the Zo for 70 minutes on manual bake cycle.

Regular 9x5-inch Loaf Pan in Zo

Antilope's picture

with Tangzhong recipe to work in a regular bread machine:

Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong in a bread machine

-Tangzhong Roux (make in microwave or on stove top - heat to 149-F/65-C until a translucent, smooth, white pudding forms)-

3 level Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 Cup liquids (I used 5 Tbsp water and 3 Tbsp milk)
(Mixed well in a plastic cup, stir out lumps, and heated in 
microwave 25 seconds, stir, heat 15 seconds more, stir - 65C/149F done)

--Final Dough ingredients added to bread machine--

All of the tangzhong roux from above
1/4 Cup half and half
1/3 Cup milk (plus a Tbsp or two more if needed)
1 egg, beaten
50g (1/4 Cup) white granulated sugar
25g (1/4 Cup) milk powder
1 1/4 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp butter
400g (3 1/3 Cups) all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp (or 1 packet) instant or bread machine yeast


-Make Tangzhong roux in microwave or on stovetop. Stir well.

-Add first 8 Final Dough ingredients to bread machine mixing pan in order shown above (don't add flour and yeast yet). Stir together until smooth. I use a rubber spatula. (I don't cool the Tangzhong roux, the milk and half & half will cool it to lukewarm.)

-Add flour on top of other ingredients.

-Make a well in dry flour and add yeast to top of dry flour

-Set bread machine to DOUGH CYCLE and press START.

-During the first couple of minutes of mixing, adjust the dough moisture, with more flour or milk, a tablespoon at a time, so it is not too sticky and not dry and crumbly. The dough should hold its own shape and not be soupy. (You want the mixing dough to resemble an uncooked biscuit or pizza dough).

-Allow dough kneading cycle to complete and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

-Remove the dough from the bread machine mixing pan.

-Remove the mixing paddles from the bread machine mixing pan.

-Form dough into a traditional milk bread loaf and return it to the bread machine mixing pan in the bread machine.

-Allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

-If desired, brush top of risen loaf with an egg wash.

-Run the bread machine MANUAL BAKE CYCLE (If the cycle requires a time to be entered, bake for about 60 minutes).

Makes one 1 1/2 lb loaf.

bakeragonnabake's picture

I made this today and turned out great. This is by far the softest white bread I've made yet. I bet it would make some outstanting cinnamon rolls or reason bread. I didn't need to add more liquid as it was pleanty soft on its own. I didn't need the full bake time of 40 minutes more like 20 - 25. I also think next time I'll cut my second proof back to maybe 15 instead of the 20 minuets I went for since the bread was just starting to over fill my loaf pan. I also took your advice of 3 rolls to a pan instead of 4 and I'm glad I did since 4 might have had my batch spilling over onto my table. I washed mine with just an egg and a bit of water. Process was easy and making the tangzhong reminded me of making eclair dough.