Japanese Milk Bread

Delicious and freshly baked goods are one of my favorite foods to eat and one of my callings in life. My favorite breads come from France, Japan and Korea. French breads are on another tier and a must try when you visit. I highly recommend purchasing a warm baguette in the morning and making a sandwich or eating it with French preserves for breakfast. I also love French pastries and am lucky enough to live somewhat close to one of the best French bakeries in the tristate area.

Japanese and Korean bread are another close favorite as they tend to be the fluffiest and softest breads you’ll try. These baked goods tend to have either sweet or savory delicious fillings or toppings.

This is a recipe that I’ve consistently made on a weekly/biweekly basis for the past few years. I used to buy my Japanese milk bread in local Asian bakeries but found that baking the bread is not difficult at all and it’s much more delicious when you make it fresh at home! It’s also easier on the wallet since I can just use the ingredients at home. Another great thing about this bread is that it freezes well for future use. I make sandwiches from the milk bread nearly everyday for Chai to enjoy when he goes to work. Ironically, I’ve also been making sandwiches for my mother when she was attending classes everyday during the summer. Her sandwiches are still much tastier than mine though so I’ve still got a lot to learn! As you can see, I’ve made a lot of bread especially this past summer! I really didn’t mind though because the recipe is simple to make and the house smells like a delicious bakery!

I used to have a Zoujirushi bread machine but found that it is really unnecessary if you have bread pans, Kitchinaid mixer, and a functional oven. I’ve sold it years ago and never missed it. The two bread pans that I use are USA Pan Bakeware Pullman Loaf Pan With Cover, 9 x 4 inch.

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These breads were made with whole wheat flour.

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Toasted slices of bread.

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Toasted slices of bread.

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Sandwich made with butter lettuce, cucumbers from our garden, cheese, egg, turkey slices, kewpie mayonnaise, and dijon mustard.

 

Yield: 2 loaves of bread
Time: 3 hours & 20 minutes

Ingredients

Roux Starter
1 cup milk*
1/3 cup bread flour

Dough
5 cups bread flour*
½ cup brown sugar or sugar in the raw
4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup warm milk*
8 TBSP cut into pieces and at room temperature, unsalted butter

*Notes
-I like to mix my flours by using 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour to make a healthier bread.
-You can use whole milk for a better taste but I’ve successfully made bread with skim milk for a lighter diet.

To prepare the starter
1) Whisk the milk and flour constantly in a small pot placed over a medium heat.
2) The roux should become smooth and thicken within a few minutes. Place it off the heat when the whisk starts to leave noticeable tracks on the bottom of the pot. Let it completely cool.

To prepare the dough
1) Mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast, salt) in a large mixer bowl.
2) Add the eggs, warm milk, and all of the starter.
3) Turn the mixer with the dough hook on the lowest speed and knead for 5 minutes. Alternately, you can also knead by hand.
4) Add the soft butter and knead for another 10 minutes at the next lowest speed on the mixer until it’s completely combined. The dough should be smooth and springy.
5) Shape the dough into a large ball and cover with a kitchen or paper towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 60 minutes or until it’s nearly double its size.
6) Lightly grease the inside of the two bread pans with butter. Cut the dough into four equal pieces and shape the dough into another ball using light to medium pressure. Place two balls on each end of the bread pan and cover again with a towel.
7) Let the dough rest for at least another 40-60 minutes or until the dough starts to slightly come out of the pan.
8) Heat the oven to 350°F with racks placed on lower bottom of the oven.
9) You can brush the top of the dough with some milk if you’d like but this is optional. Cover the bread pans with their covers.
10) Bake for 35 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then cool it outside the pan for at least an hour. Do not cut it until an hour has passed otherwise the bread may deflate.

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