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Sweet Fluffy Milk Bread

Sweet Fluffy Milk Bread Recipe

Milk bread, known for its incredibly soft and fluffy texture, is a delightful treat perfect for any time of the day. This Japanese-inspired bread is slightly sweet, making it a wonderful addition to breakfast, a cozy afternoon snack, or even a base for sandwiches. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making sweet fluffy milk bread from scratch. We’ll also share some useful tips and answer common questions about this delightful bread.

Ingredients

For the Tangzhong (Water Roux)

  • 3 tablespoons bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

For the Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Instructions

Making the Tangzhong

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons of bread flour, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of whole milk.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Preparing the Dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of bread flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of instant yeast, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  2. Add the cooled tangzhong, 1/2 cup of warmed milk, and 1 large egg to the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of softened unsalted butter and knead the dough by hand or with a stand mixer for about 10-15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Shaping and Baking the Bread

  1. Once the dough has risen, punch it down to release the air.
  2. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts.
  3. Roll each part into a ball, then roll each ball into an oval shape.
  4. Fold the oval in thirds, then roll it out again into a rectangle.
  5. Starting from the short end, roll the rectangle into a tight roll.
  6. Place the rolled dough pieces seam side down into a greased loaf pan.
  7. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise again for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preparing the Egg Wash and Baking

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon of milk to make the egg wash.
  3. Brush the egg wash over the top of the risen dough.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
  5. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Tips for Perfect Milk Bread

  1. Use Fresh Yeast: Ensure your yeast is fresh and active. Expired yeast can lead to poor rising.
  2. Warm Milk: The milk should be warm to the touch but not hot. This helps activate the yeast without killing it.
  3. Proper Kneading: Kneading the dough thoroughly is essential for developing the gluten, which gives the bread its structure and softness.
  4. Rising Time: Don’t rush the rising times. The dough needs adequate time to rise to develop its flavor and texture.
  5. Tangzhong Consistency: The tangzhong should be smooth and thick like a pudding. If it’s too runny, it won’t work properly.

FAQs

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour?

Yes, you can use all-purpose flour, but bread flour gives better results due to its higher protein content, which contributes to the bread’s structure and fluffiness.

What is the purpose of tangzhong?

Tangzhong is a Japanese technique that involves cooking a portion of the flour and liquid to create a paste. This method helps the bread retain more moisture, resulting in a softer and fluffier texture.

Can I make this bread without a stand mixer?

Absolutely! You can knead the dough by hand. It might take a bit longer and require some elbow grease, but the results will be just as satisfying.

How should I store milk bread?

Store milk bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months. To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer-safe bag.

Can I add fillings to this bread?

Yes, you can add sweet or savory fillings such as red bean paste, chocolate, or ham and cheese. Add the filling before shaping the dough into rolls.

Why is my bread dense and not fluffy?

Several factors can cause dense bread, including under-kneading, not allowing the dough to rise enough, or using expired yeast. Ensure you follow the recipe steps carefully for the best results.

Can I make this bread in a bread machine?

Yes, you can use a bread machine. Add the ingredients according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically starting with the liquids, then the dry ingredients, and yeast last. Use the dough setting, then shape and bake as instructed.

By following this detailed recipe and tips, you will be able to create sweet, fluffy milk bread that will delight your taste buds and impress your family and friends. Happy baking!