Hokkaido Milk Bread-Tangzhong — We Knead to Bake #3

Hokkaido is Japan’s second largest island. It is located at the North end of Japan close to Russia, an island very earthquake prone, the last major one in 2012. It is also the name of this fluffy, puffy  bread chosen by Aparna for We Knead to Bake #3. Tangzhong is a water, sometimes milk and flour-based roux championed by Yvonne Chen who wrote the Taiwanese cookbook which translates as “65° C Bread Doctor”. The roux is touted to be the secret ingredient in baking soft and airy breads which stay fresher longer than breads baked without the roux. The Tangzhong, a mixture of 1 part to 5 parts water is cooked in a skillet to a temperature of 65°, which activates it leavening abilities, cooled to room temperature for several hours, then incorporated into the flour mixture. 

I hadn’t heard of this method of preparing bread dough, but I am definitely going to use the Tzanghong method on my future bread baking adventures.  The recipe Aparna gave the group is not a difficult dough and quite versatile. It can be shaped into animal characters as well as a filled bread, sweet or savory. My interpretation of the Hokkaido Milk Bread has a cinnamon sugar and mini-chocolate chips swirled throughout the dough and baked in 4 by 6-inch loaf pans. 

Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

Original recipe from 65 Degrees Tangzhong “65C Bread Doctor” by Yvonne Chen and adapted

from Kirbie’s Cravings. There is also a video available which might be helpful on making the Tangzhong.


For the Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

For the Dough

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons powdered milk

2 teaspoons instant dried yeast

1/2 cup milk( and a little more, if needed)

1/8  cup (2 tablespoons ) cream (25% fat)

1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF) of the tangzhong from above recipe

25 grams unsalted butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

1/2 to 3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips if making the chocolate chip rolls ( I used the chocolate along with 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar


The Tangzhong  (Flour-Water Roux):

Whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk in a saucepan 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.

If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/tangzhong until it reaches 65° C (150°F) and take it off the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, watch the roux/tangzhong until you see lines forming in the roux/tangzhong as you whisk it. Take the pan off the heat at this point.

Let the roux/tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2-3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy creme patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.

The Bread Dough:

Aparna made her dough in the food processor. The dough can be made by hand, but the dough is sticky and can take some time and effort to knead by hand. I used my bread machine with great success, so I suggest you either use the food processor or the dough cycle of a bread machine and process according the the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine.

My instructions for the dough will be written for processing on the dough cycle of the bread machine. Place ingredients with the exception of the mini-chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar in the pan of your bread machine and process accordingly. 

When the cycle has completed, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. For four mini-loaves, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, then each piece into 3 equal pieces. You should have 12 small pieces of dough. Roll each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape about 1/8-inch thick. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon sugar over the oval, then some mini-chocolate chips-don’t make the filling too thick or it will run out. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval-or roll jelly roll style. Pinch to to seal the edge. Place three rolls side by side in a greased mini-loaf pan. Repeat for 3 more loaves.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. When loaves have risen, carefully brush the tops of the loaves with milk or cream and bake them for about 20-30 minutes until they are done ( if you tap them they will sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let them cool in the tins for about 5 minutes and then turn them out and transfer to a rack to cool.

Serve or store in a bread bin. This bread stays soft and delicious even the next day. If you are interested in making the animals, read Aparna’s excellent post on how to shape the animals.

Submitted to yeastspotting.


Please do not use images or text without my permission. 


  1. Reshmi Mahesh
    March 25, 2013 / 7:10 pm

    Bread looks great and I am in love with you pan..:)

  2. Amrita Vishal
    March 27, 2013 / 1:26 pm

    Your bread looks irresistible..great bake..one of my favorite

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