Feathery Soft Milk Bread (Without Tangzhong)
A soft and fluffy milk bread that melts in your mouth. No tangzhong is required for this feather light milk bread recipe. Detailed step-by-step instructions and a tutorial video are included.
What is milk bread?
Milk bread is a white bread developed in Japan in the 20th century. It is often called as Hokkaido milk bread where the Japanese milk bread originally started, Japanese milk bread is also called ‘shokupan’, which means ‘eating bread’. It is widely enjoyed as a every day simple bread in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries
Most milk bread recipes uses tangzhong made with milk. From there, the bread dough is made with flour, sugar, milk, yeast, egg, salt, and butter, and you will get the soft and fluffy bread with the tender soft texture.
Asian style milk bread is very popular these days and you will find them easily in a Korean bakery or other Asian bakeries. Both avid and beginner home bakers are searching for an ultimate recipe for milk bread and there are quite many out there.
What is Tangzhong?
Tangzhong is a paste of flour cooked in water or milk, which is used to improve the texture of bread, making it soft and fluffy. It is widely used in most Chinese or Japanese style milk bread or roll recipes. Tangzhong makes the bread softer and stay fresh longer.
Milk Bread Recipe without tangzhong
A good news for a milk bread lover! This easy recipe does not require tangzhong.
This feather light milk bread is made with ingredients and a technique that produces a soft and moist crumb without using the traditional method. And it’s a whole lot easier to knead.
So why not take an easy route?
You will still get the same fabulous feathery and stringy texture, and a delicate crumb that traditional loaf of milk bread has. It tastes so good that you will never want to bake with Tangzhong ever again.
Why you will like no tangzhong milk bread
- No tangzhong method – Needless to say, Tangzhong makes the bread soft and fluffy. But I came to find out that you can still make a feather-like milk bread without Tangzhong; by using the heavy whipping cream!
- No dough enhancer – You don’t need the enhancer either to get the soft and fluffy texture.
- Easier and quicker – than using the traditional tangzhong method.
- Texture – ultimately soft, tender, and moist texture.
- Taste – milky delicious in every bite.
- Stay fresh – up to 3 days.
Can I omit dry milk from the bread recipe?
Yes, but I highly recommend adding it. Dry milk provides a smoother and more mellow flavor. It also helps bread results in a more tender texture and a significantly higher rise.
Can I bake milk bread in a regular loaf pan?
Of course. You can use any 9×5 inch loaf pan instead of the pullman loaf pan. You won’t get the straight sides that you see in traditional Japanese milk bread, though.
Can I make milk bread in a bread maker?
Absolutely! Just follow the recipe and mix the dry ingredients into wet ingredients. However, because each bread machine is different, you may have to adjust the recipe to your situation. The size of pan in the bread machine can vary, so the bread can come out either less tall in wider pans or taller in smaller pans depending on what you have. This recipe will fit 1 lb dough size pan.
What does milk bread taste like?
It has a milky-sweet and buttery taste. The feathery soft texture tears into fine strands and melts in your mouth. Good milk bread shouldn’t have the naturally leavened holes or sourdough tang.
Ingredients for making milk bread
- bread flour: provides high gluten and makes the signature stringy crumb
- sugar: milk breads are slightly sweet bread
- egg: I use a large egg.
- instant yeast: If you need to use active yeast instead of instant yeast, proof the active yeast with warm milk first, then add to the rest of ingredients.
- dry milk powder: Don’t miss out! It adds rich milk flavor to the bread and helps soften the texture.
- milk: I used whole milk but you can substitute with reduced fat milk. (no less than 2%, though)
- heavy cream or whipping cream: It provides fat and keeps the bread moist and add milky taste.
Kitchen tools needed
- pullman loaf pan – or 9×5-inch loaf pan
- stand mixer
- mixing bowl
- mini rolling pin
Pullman loaf pan: You can bake the milk bread in a traditional 9×5-inch loaf pan. I like to bake it in the Pullman loaf pan. Its straight-sided shape makes the milk bread look more attractive. And that’s the milk bread shape you see in most Asian bakeries. However, I did not use a lid that comes with most Pullman loaf pans. I want to keep the gorgeous round mounds on top.
How to make Milk Bread without Tangzhong
Making the bread dough
Step 1. Mix wet ingredients
Mix milk, cream, sugar, egg, yeast, dry milk powder, yeast, and sugar with a wooden spoon. Then add flour and mix well.
Step 2. Add dry ingredients and knead
If using a stand mixer, attach dough hook and knead the dough on low (stir mode) setting for 12-15 minutes. The dough will be very sticky. Add extra 2-3 tablespoons of flour if needed. Resist adding too much flour. Otherwise you won’t obtain the fluffy texture.
If kneading by hand, it will take about 6-8 minutes until the dough becomes soft and elastic, and won’t stick to you hands.
Step 3. Let the dough rise
Shape into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until double in volume; about 1 hr.
Step 4. Divide the dough
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each dough into a ball shape and let them rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
How to roll milk bread
- Using a small rolling pin, roll the dough into 7-8 inch long. Then flip the dough to the other side so that the smooth surface will face down. It will create a smooth crust.
- Fold the dough into thirds.
- Rotate the dough to 90˚ degree so that the layered side is facing toward you. Start rolling the dough tightly, pinching the seam together to secure.
- Transfer dough in a greased pan, seam side down, and press down the top gently with your hand. That will help even out the round top. Cover and let it rise until double in volume; about 40 minutes.
Egg wash and Bake
Brush the top with egg wash to achieve a beautiful golden brown crust. Bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 22-25 minutes. If the top gets brown too quickly, tent with a piece of foil loosely.
Recipe Tip: When the bread comes out of oven, give it a strong tap once on a counter top. That will prevent the soft crust from sagging down and wrinkle. Brush with melted butter immediately to get the shiny look. Take the bread out of pan and let it cool on a wired rack.
How to serve milk bread
Milk bread tastes best on the day it is made and when it is still warm. You can either slice the bread or tear along. Spread with butter and your favorite jam. It also toasts beautifully and makes great breakfast (see my Korean street toast recipe). It also makes a wonderful sandwich bread, too.
This milk bread will stay fresh and moist for 3 days. It also freezes well up to 3 months. When ready, just thaw out in a room temperature for 15-20 minutes and reheat in a 300˚F oven for 8-10 minutes.
Watch recipe video
Feathery Soft Milk Bread (Without Tangzhong)
- 2/3 cup milk, lukewarm
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, lukewarm
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 2-1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp dry milk powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2-1/4 cup bread flour , + 2-3 tbsp extra if needed
- egg wash, for brushing
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Using a mixing bowl from a stand mixer, mix together milk, cream, sugar, egg, instant yeast, powdered milk, and salt in a bowl. Add flour slowly and mix well to combine with wet ingredients using a wooden spoon.
- Using a dough hook, start kneading the dough on low(stir) setting for 12-15 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, add 2-3 more tablespoon of flour as needed. Resist adding too much flour. The dough should be very sticky.
- Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface, knead with your palm of your hand for 30 seconds. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until double in volume; about 1 hr.
- Punch the dough to deflate. Turn it out on to a floured surface and knead for 30-60 seconds. Dived the dough into 3 equal portions. Shape each portion to a ball. Cover and let them rest for 15 minutes so that the gluten can relax.
- Roll each dough ball into 7-8-inch long with a small rolling pin. Then flip the dough to the other side so that the smooth surface will face down. Fold it into thirds and rotate 90˚ degree so that the layered side is facing toward you. Start rolling the dough tightly and pinch the seam together to secure.
- Place the dough in a greased loaf pan. Press down the top with your hand gently. Cover and let it rise again until double in volume, about 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F. When the dough is risen, brush the top with egg wash and bake for 22-25 minutes. If the top crust gets brown too quickly, loosely tent with a piece of foil.
- When the bread comes out of oven, tap it on the countertop once to shock. That will prevent the bread top from sagging down and wrinkle. Then brush with melted butter immediately. Take the bread out of pan and cool it on a wired rack.
Was the melted butter just for greasing? Not for the dough?
Melted butter is for brushing the top of bread right after it comes out of oven. You don’t need it in the dough. Hope this helps. Thanks.
Hmm, have a recipe for that doesn’t need a mixer?
You can knead this dough by hand. It will be on the sticky side but it will hold its shape as you knead. Add a little more flour if needed.
Thanks. Just not a fan of kneading. Like the no mess approach.
I have no cream, is it ok to use all milk will it come out the same, thanks much in advance, just waiting to see before I do another batch,
You will need extra fat to make the bread extra tender and soft. So I highly recommend adding the cream.
I have to say I have made this bread a dozen times and this last time was perfection, I posted on FB, which I never do for food items, and gave your Pinterest recipe that I have saved to mine to 6 people. Quick question the rise this this time was like the yeast was on steroids, I ran out of bread flour and wanted to make two loaves, so I used maybe 2 cups and the rest I used hi Gluten, could this be why I had so much over spring which I never get, running out gave me a loaf that was amazing, and the dough to work with was fantastic, what do you think thanks much
I am so glad you like my bread recipe.
Yes, high gluten flour tend to absorb more liquid than regular flour so it effect the rising faster.
Can you make this in not the 3 sections, love the bread, made a dozen times. I think without separations would be better for sandwiches
Yes, you can roll the dough into a large single section without dividing into 3 small sections. Just make a large flat square dough and roll it up to fit into your pan.
Glad to hear you like this bread. Thanks.
Hi..what do I do if I want to substitute for the egg? Thanks
Try with 1/4 cup of mashed banana or sweet condensed milk per egg. Hope it works out for you.
This is a great recipe, I do it on the dough cycle in my bread machine. Just add the ingredients in the order that you normally would for a bread machine. I prefer to use active dry yeast which needs to proof first in the warm liquid and sugar but I did try with the instant yeast and it worked out too.
So happy to hear it worked out great for you with a bread machine. Thank you for the comment.
Hi, may I replace heavy cream with non-diary whipping cream?
Yes, it should work fine.
Did you use a lid for your Pullman loaf pan?
No, I didn’t.
Could this be made in a breadmachine??
I haven’t tried in a bread machine, but I think it will work. Let me know how it turns out.
I made the dough in the bread machine then rolled it by hand and rose it in a pullman. I think the powdered milk is essential. But the cream can be replaced with 60g of melted butter.
This is actually the first bread I’ve ever made (besides things like banana bread ahaha) and it turned out perfectly! I’m soooo happy, thank you for the easy to follow instructions 🙂
I didn’t have any bread flour and neither did my local Target, so I just used all purpose flour and kneaded a bit longer to really get the gluten activated. It worked great!
So glad to hear this bread turned out well for you. It is, indeed, an easy recipe and the outcome is very satisfying. I make it quite often when I am in the mood for feather light white bread.
How can I make this by hand kneading….I do not have a mixer
Try kneading the dough by hand for 7-8 minutes. The dough is on the sticky side. You can add a little more flour as you knead but not too much. You can grease your hand with a little bit of oil if the dough sticks too much to your hand. Hope this helps.
Thanks for sharing your recopie. I love in Australia and they don’t sell heavy whipping cream. Either thickened cream or fresh cream/double cream. Any advice on that?
I would choose double cream. Although double cream has higher fat content than heavy/whipping cream, it should work with this recipe. Use the same amount.
Hope you succeed and let me know how it turns out.
Hi, Holly! If I wanted to make this bread square with the Pullman lid (like for sando), do I still follow the same directions? Thanks!
I think it will work but the bread might be slightly compressed with a lid on. I would try first to see how it turns out. If it gets too dense, try with a little less dough next time. It is a really easy yet fluffy milk bread recipe and I was very happy for the outcome. Good luck! Thanks.
Ohhh what a wonderful recipe. Every Day I eat a bread :).
I’m a little confused. In your description you say “whipped cream” but in your recipe it says “heavy whipping cream lukewarm”. Should the cream be whipped first before using?
Sorry to confuse you. It should be just un-whipped heavy whipping cream. Make sure to warm it slightly.
Can you substitute anything for whipping cream? I don’t keep that on hand.
You can try with milk and melted butter mixture, about 4 tbsp milk + 1.5 tbsp butter.
This is gorgeous! Love the texture of it — so light and fluffy. Really terrific recipe — thanks.
It turned out so soft and airy…perfect!