Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hokkaido Milk Bread | Bread Bunnies | Soft Japanese Bread with Tangzhong

If you like bread and more so baking bread at home... this is a MUST try recipe! It is simply the softest bread I have ever baked at home and I completely surprised myself with the outcome. I was extremely proud of my delicious super soft home-made bread which compared very closely to the bread available in those professional bakeries. Yes, it really really was the best bread I have ever baked!

Aparna enlightened us of this Japanese method of baking called the Tangzhong method. This method basically revolves around a flour-water-milk mixture prepared over the stove into a creamy mix or roux which is called the tangzhong. The dough is made using the core ingredients: tangzhong, flour and milk rather than water and the resulting bread is divinely soft and fluffy with a lovely sweetness in its flavour. 

Now, having made the beautiful little loaves, I couldn't stop myself from making these adorable little bread bunnies :) It was fun shaping these fellas but was not easy to munch on them when they looked so cute!  Look at those chubby bunnies, I guess they love the bread too! :D

Hokkaido Milk Bread With Tangzhong

(Original Recipe from 65 Degrees Tangzhong “65C Bread Doctor” by Yvonne Chen, and adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings and My Diverse Kitchen)


For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)
All-purpose Flour/Maida - 1/3 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup

For The Dough:
All-purpose flour/Maida - 2 1/2 cups
Sugar - 3 tbsp
Salt - 1tsp
Milk Powder - 2 tbsp
Instant dried yeast - 2 tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup (and a little more if needed)
Fresh Cream - 1/8 cup
Tangzhong - 1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)
Unsalted Butter - 25gm (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)


The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux):

  • In a saucepan, whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk until smooth and there are no lumps.Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth.
  • Watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing 'lines' forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.
  • Let the roux/ tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.

The Bread Dough:

I made this dough in the food processor. If you have some sort of machine which will do the kneading for you, use it. Don’t punish yourself. And do not add more flour to make it less sticky either!

  • In a glass, put the yeast, sugar and warm milk. In about 5 minutes you will notice bubbles on the top as the yeast proofs. This step is not really needed as you are using instant yeast, but just to make sure it is good and it hardly takes 5 minutes!
  • Put the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and the yeast mixture in a big bowl. Mix well. 
  • In another small bowl mix the milk, cream and Tangzhong till smooth and add to the big bowl. Using a food processor or hand blender with bread hooks, knead until the dough comes together. 
  • Now add the butter and process till you have a smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky. This dough can be made by hand but the dough is a bit sticky and can take some time and effort to knead by hand.
  • The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of tsps of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.
  • Then, place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small buns. Depending on what you are making, divide your dough. 
  • I made one small loaf and 6 small buns. So I first divided my dough into two equal pieces first. Then I divided the first half into three equal pieces to make the loaf. The other half was divided into six equal pieces for six rolls.

The shaping of the bread loaf: 

  • Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold.

  • Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. 
  • Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
  • Carefully brush the tops of the rolls and the loaf with milk (or cream) and bake them at 170C (I suggest baking at 150 if baking in microwave with convection mode) for about 20 to 30 minutes till they are done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. 

  • Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then unmould and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool.

The shaping of the bread bunnies: 

  • Make 6 small dough balls. Shape each dough ball into an egg, with one side slightly narrower than the other.
  • Using the picture below as reference, snip off the bunny ears using kitchen scissors.
  • Make tiny holes for eyes using tooth pick.
  • You can use black grapes or nuts for eyes. Remember choco-chip will melt in the oven if you place it prior to baking. You can make tiny holes and then fill them post the baking of the bunnies. I used choco-strands for eyes.


  1. Looks so cute Nanditha :) love the way you have done them... hope you are getting well, take care

  2. Wow those bunnies looks damn cute, you have a super softy bread..Well done.

  3. Hey Nandita, your loaves and bunnies look purrrrfect - super soft and adorable. Great job!

  4. How cute are those bunnies. Such a lovely Bread Nandita.

  5. How I loved those well fed bunnies...amazingly soft and yummy bread..I am late baking but have finally got Hokkaido-ised;)

  6. I am in love with those bunnies. So cute

  7. Cute looking bunnies and bread was awesome..

  8. These are super cute and I even showed them to my colleagues :-) also loved that coffee bean chef with the coffee mug in his hand...awesome!


  9. Wow - I love the detailed recipe and the bread looks so yummy.

  10. what is fresh cream? I live in teh usa and i have no idea were to get that. is it completely necessary to use it?

    1. You can get Fresh Cream in any super market. Just check in the dairy section. If you are not able to find it, you can skip that. The bread becomes a little more soft if you use it, but can do without as well.