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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.


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.

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!!!

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.

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.   

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.

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.


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.

FlyinAggie's picture

I can freeze the bread that's baking in the Zo, and then make this tomorrow, right?  I should have come here before starting my bread, because I want to do this NOW.  I wonder if I can roll out the dough, add cinnamon sugar and raisins, and make  probably the best raisin bread of the century, from what I see here! 



Antilope's picture

I've even taken the mixing paddles out of my Zo Virtuoso and baked the swirl bread in the Zo bread pan. Or as you see above, you can bake in a regular 9 x 5 loaf pan in the Zo Virtuoso. I bake for 70 minutes in the manual bake cycle.

FlyinAggie's picture

I saved both the recipes above and will absolutely give this a workout.  I can see right now I have a weight gain in my future.  Hubby can't have the cinnamon swirl bread, but he will surely eat the regular, and so will I!  I appreciate the tip about baking in a conventional pan in the Zo.  Mine's new, so I don't know all these things about it yet.  I have the Supreme model.  I learned one thing today; when you don't get the pan clicked down firmly on the holding devices it makes one heck of a racket when it tries to knead the dough!  So much so that I'm sure I won't ever do that again! 



FlyinAggie's picture

I'm so excited about this recipe!  I made my first loaf today, and it blew me away with its softness and rich sweet flavor, and my husband thinks I made magic (fist pump)! 


I made the dough in the Zo, then divided it into four little loaf shapes.  I put three into a standard bread pan and the fourth one went into a mini pan.  I baked them at 350 for 30 minutes.  After cooling, I pulled apart the big loaf, and I took the mini loaf to a neighbor.  (Good bread should always be shared!)  It really is like cotton candy inside!  I will love this recipe for a long, long time!  I have a lot of elderly neighbors who will be recipients of either partial loaves or the minis as they are all single and can't use up an entire loaf.  THANK YOU for this recipe!  (I used Antilope's recipe for the bread machine)





Antilope's picture

Once you have tried the Tangzhong technique you will be hooked. I use it on most of the pan breads I make.

FlyinAggie's picture

I'm just delighted with the results, so this is now my go-to recipe!

Hippytea's picture

May I say just how much I love love love this recipe and how fabulous I have found it.

One of the milestones of my life in breadmaking.

Thank you for posting it.

paresh1955's picture

How would the milk loaf's texture be affected if I omit eggs in the recipe? Ofcourse, I would need to add the appropriate amount of milk+water to compensate the loss of liquid. What is the role of eggs in breads?

(I'm planning to make the bread for my mum who is 91 years old. She doesn't consume eggs, as it's not considered 'vegetarian' here in India.)

Floydm's picture

The eggs make it a bit richer and moister, but you certainly could omit them and it not be a big deal.

paresh1955's picture

Thanks Floyd, I didn't expect such a prompt prompt reply! 

As for the eggs, I was expecting a similar reply but wanted a confirmation.

Cathfm's picture

Could I double the butter? Or sugar?

Floydm's picture

Certainly you could try it, just be aware that either change is likely to change the characteristics of the loaf a bit. More sugar will make it brown more quickly and I suspect significantly more butter will make it heavier, but tinker around and see what you like best.

Cathfm's picture

I'll try it out. I added some cream cheese, chives and garlic when rolling/folding and it was great :) tangzhong is a great technique.

JustJoel's picture

After I discovered tangzhan (let’s discuss spelling somewhere else, lol), I use it often. Not only does it soften the crumb, it retards staling. But I did try to use a milk/water mixture to prepare the tangzhan once, and the fat in the milk turned the whole thing into an actual roux! I now restrict myself to non-fat liquids for the starter. 

greedybread's picture


Looks gorgeous and I can not wait to try it.

I used this method , and a similar recipe, some time ago to 're' make cream buns (sorry not sure what you call them there) and it really improved the taste of them.

Traditionally cream buns are a very bland white soft bun that needs to be eaten the day its made.

Similar to above...but usually mass produced and bland but all kiwis love them regardless.

Tang Zhong of course changes that and gives you flavor and longer lasting buns:)