Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

Those japanese milk bread rolls are amazingly soft and airy. Not too sweet neither too salty, those fluffy rolls are perfect to top with butter and jam for breakfast or enjoy them for family dinners any day of the week.

Japanese milk bread rolls on a baking pan.

I made those puffy, super soft and delicate dinner rolls using the marvellous tangzhong method from the japanese cuisine, which I used before to make this delicious Hokkaido Milk Bread.

What is the tangzhong method?

The tangzhong method is a japanese technique made to create a softer white bread, this method consist in a simple mixture with flour and water to create a starter for later use on a soft bread recipe.

When cooking water and flour together, a gelation process takes place, this allows the dough to absorb more liquid later than it usually does resulting in a most airy and soft bread that stays longer this way than other types of white breads.

Milk bread rolls texture.
Look at that fluffiness!

What kind of flour is best for bread rolls?

Without a doubt, a strong flour is needed to make those fluffy japanese milk bread rolls. There are many brands in the market, so use your favourite brand as long as it have at least 11% protein. You can see that info on the flour bag.

I have used many types of flour, but the best that works for me here in Europe is the Manitoba flour. But as I said, as long as is a strong, bread flour, you’ll be able to make this recipe.

Japanese milk bread rolls piled.

Step by step recipe

Make the tangzhong

Place flour, milk and water on a small pan and whisk until there are no lumps. Place the mixture over low heat and cook until you’ll achieve a thick mixture like the one on the photo below.

Tangzhong on a pan.

Transfer tangzhong to a bowl and allow to reach room temperature. You can also make this mixture the day before if you want.

Make the milk mixture

Add milk and butter on a medium bowl. Place in the microwave and heat until butter has melted, let cool to room temperature. Once the mixture has cool down, add the egg and mix until incorporated. Take 2 tablespoons of the milk mixture and set aside.

Milk mixture on a bowl.

Make the dough

Add flour, sugar, salt and yeast on a stand mixer bowl. Pour in the milk mixture.

Adding milk mixture to the bowl with the other ingredients.

With the hook attached, knead at low speed everything until a smooth and elastic dough is formed (about 8 minutes).

Remove dough from the bowl and shape a ball, don’t worry if is a little sticky, after resting, the dough will be more manageable. Place it on a greased bowl and cover with cling film. Let the dough proof in a warm environment, I put it inside the oven with the lights turned on.

Dough on a bowl.

After 1 hour and half, the dough should have doubled in size.

Dough raised.

Shape the rolls

Lightly grease your hands with a bit of butter. Transfer the dough to a smooth surface and knead slightly to degas it.

Kneading lightly the dough.

Divide the dough in two pieces. Roll each piece into a tube shape, then dive each tube into 3 equal pieces. You need to obtain 6 pieces for large rolls, or you can also make 8 or 10 smaller rolls if you want.

Dividing the dough.

Shape by tucking under to create a smooth top to the dough, then gently round each piece into a smooth ball.

Shaping the japanese rolls.

Place dough balls in a greased 10x7inch (25x19cm) cake pan. You can also use a round pan if you want.

Roll on a baking pan.

Cover loosely with cling film and let the rolls proof from 40 to 60 minutes in a warm place.

Bake

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and set a rack in the middle position. Once rolls are puffy, carefully brush them with the milk mixture you reserved before.

Brushing rolls with egg and milk mixture.

Bake the japanese milk bread rolls for about 20 minutes, check up the rolls and if you see they are getting too browned, cover them with foil. Keep baking for 10 more minutes, in total rolls should bake from 25 to 30 minutes, depending in your oven.

Rolls just take out from oven.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before removing the rolls from the pan.

How To Store

Those japanese milk bread rolls last about 5 days on the countertop if stored correctly. Place them into a air-tight container or wrap them individually with cling film to prevent them from drying out.

Also, you can place them into the fridge if you want them to last longer. When you want to eat them just leave them reach room temperature or heat them for a few seconds in the microwave. Or you can also cut them, spread some butter and toast them on a skillet.

Japanese rolls with butter.

Can be frozen?

Yes! absolutely. Those amazing dinner rolls can be freeze for up to 3 months. Wrap them individually, when you’ll want them for breakfast or dinner, thaw them overnight at room temperature and reheat as suggested above.

Japanese milk bread rolls recipe

Japanese milk bread rolls

Those japanese milk bread rolls are amazingly soft and airy. Not too sweet neither too salty, those fluffy rolls are perfect to top with butter and jam for breakfast or enjoy them for family dinners any day of the week.
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Servings: 6 large rolls

Equipment

  • 10x7inch (25x19cm) cake pan – or a 10inch round pan.

Ingredients 

For Tangzhong

  • 2 Tbsp (14g) bread flour (with at least 11% protein)
  • 2 Tbsp (45g) water
  • 2 Tbsp (45g) whole milk

For the dough

  • 2 cups (300g) bread flour (with at least 11% protein)
  • ¼ cup (50g) sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (60g) unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (or 25g fresh yeast)
  • ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

MAKE THE TANGZHONG

  • Place flour, milk and water on a small pan and whisk until there are no lumps. Place the mixture over low heat and cook until you’ll achieve a thick mixture.
  • Transfer tangzhong to a bowl and allow to reach room temperature.

MAKE THE MILK MIXTURE

  • Add milk and butter on a medium bowl. Place in the microwave and heat until butter has melted, let cool to room temperature.
  • Once the mixture has cool down, add the egg and mix until incorporated. Take 2 tablespoons of the milk mixture and set aside.

MAKE THE DOUGH

  • Add flour, sugar, salt and yeast on a stand mixer bowl.
  • Pour in the milk mixture and, with the hook attached, knead at low speed everything until a smooth and elastic dough is formed (about 8 minutes).
  • Remove dough from the bowl and shape a ball. Place it on a greased bowl and cover with cling film.
  • Let the dough proof in a warm environment until doubled in size (about 1 and half hours).

SHAPE THE ROLLS

  • Lightly grease your hands with a bit of butter. Transfer the dough to a smooth surface and knead slightly to degas it.
  • Divide the dough in two pieces. Roll each piece into a tube shape, then dive each tube into 3 equal pieces. You need to obtain 6 pieces for large rolls, or you can also make 8 or 10 smaller rolls if you want.
  • Shape by tucking under to create a smooth top to the dough, then gently round each piece into a smooth ball.
  • Place dough balls in a greased 10x7inch (25x19cm) cake pan.
  • Cover loosely with cling film and let the rolls proof from 40 to 60 minutes in a warm place.

BAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and set a rack in the middle position. Once rolls are puffy, carefully brush them with the milk mixture you reserved before.
  • Bake the japanese milk bread rolls for about 20 minutes, check up the rolls and if you see they are getting too browned, cover them with foil.
  • Keep baking for 10 more minutes, in total rolls should bake from 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before removing the rolls from the pan.
Nutrition
Calories: 321kcal
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