Last updated on April 15th, 2020
These pull-apart Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are soft, fluffy, and light as a feather. Speaking from experience here, you can eat a whole pan of them and not feel full. The secret to the rolls’ airy awesomeness? A cooked starter called “TangZhong.” TangZhong is very easy to make, as are the rolls themselves. As proof, watch the video up top. Then scroll down for the photographic step-by-step and printable recipe:
Japanese Milk Bread Rolls
First, make the TangZhong: In a small saucepan that reflects your kitchen, your tripod, and your torso, whisk together each of the following ingredients: 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons milk, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
Whisk thoroughly to remove any lumps.
Then set the pan over low heat, and whisk constantly just until the mixture thickens — about 4 minutes. And that’s it — our TangZhong is made! Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
To cool off the TangZhong, whisk in 1/2 cup milk.
Then whisk in a large egg from a happy, peppy free-range hen…
4 tablespoons melted butter…
And 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast.
To make the dough, tip 2 1/2 cups flour into a large-ish bowl. You can use bread flour here if you like. I always use all-purpose flour for my Japanese Milk Bread Rolls.
With a song in your heart, stir in 2 tablespoons nonfat instant dry milk…
1 teaspoon table salt…
And 1/4 cup sugar. Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are slightly sweet. I’m slightly sweet, too. But only on Wednesdays.
Then stir in the TangZhong starter!
Stir until a shaggy dough develops.
Then scoop the dough onto a very lightly floured surface, and knead by hand until the dough becomes elastic — about 5 minutes. Also, wash out, dry, and lightly-grease the mixing bowl.
Form the dough into a ball, and then place it in the (cleaned and lightly-greased) mixing bowl.
Now cover the bowl with cling film or a kitchen towel, and place it in a warm-ish location until the dough puffs and doubles (or nearly doubles) in volume — 90 minutes to 2 hours.
While you wait for the dough to proof, toss your measuring spoons and prep bowls into your happily-functioning dishwasher. That’s what I did. To burn off calories.
Gently deflate the dough, and then knead it for about 1 minute.
Form the dough into a ball, and then cut the ball in half. A bench scraper is helpful here.
Cut each half in half, and then into equal quarters to make 8 equal-size pieces of dough.
Form the 8 segments into rolls (be sure to watch the video up top to see my roll-forming technique)…
And then place the rolls in a lightly-greased 9-inch-diameter cake pan.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise until the rolls fill the pan as above — about 50 minutes.
Gently brush the rolls with egg wash (1 egg blended with 1 teaspoon water)…
And top them, if you wish, with sesame seeds.
Bake at 350°F until the rolls turn brown and beautiful — 25-30 minutes. Let ’em cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before pulling them apart and devouring them.
And devour them you will, because Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are too delicious to ignore!
The rolls are delicious as is, although you might like to split them and fill them with butter. Or, use the rolls as buns for “sliders.” Again, these babies are soft, fluffy, and light as air. I love them more than I should.
Think you’ll give these Japanese Milk Bread Rolls a try? Talk to me in the comments field below. And if you do make the rolls, please post your review below. You can even add stars to your review. xKevin
And…here’s the printable:
Japanese Milk Bread Rolls
For the TangZhong starter:
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose ("plain") flour
Additions to the TangZhong starter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Dry ingredients for the dough:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
For glazing and topping the rolls before baking them:
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Sesame seeds -- a sprinkling for each roll
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the TangZhong ingredients: water, milk, and flour. Whisk well to smooth out any lumps. Set the pan over low heat, and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens -- about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Whisk in each addition to the TangZhong: milk, egg, melted butter, and yeast.
- In a large (-ish) bowl, stir in the listed dry ingredients for the dough. Then stir in the TangZhong mixture. Stir until a shaggy dough develops. On a lightly-floured board, knead the dough by hand until it is elastic and fairly smooth -- about 5 minutes. Wash out, dry, and lightly grease the mixing bowl.
- Form the dough into a ball, and place it in the greased mixing bowl. Then flip the dough to grease its underside. Cover with cling film, and then place in a warm location. Let rise until doubled (or nearly doubled) in volume -- 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch-diameter cake pan. Gently deflate the dough. Then cut the dough in half. Cut each half into 4 equal size pieces to achieve 8 pieces total. Form each dough segment into a roll, and place in the prepared cake pan. Cover and let rise until the rolls fill the pan -- about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush the rolls with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water). Brush gently to avoid deflating the rolls. Top the rolls, if you wish, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls are brown and beautiful -- 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before serving.