Super Soft Asian Milk Bread 牛奶麵包

by Yi on February 28, 2014 · 40 comments

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

If you grew up in Asian communities, you probably need no introduction to the popular Asian style milk bread.

Commonly known as Hokkaido milk bread or Japanese milk bread, or milk toast, this super soft and fluffy bread has always been my preferred bread. Since this bread does not necessarily require ingredients from Hokkaido, Japan, I like to just call it soft milk bread for the sake of simplicity.

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

What makes this bread so special is the flavorful and texture.

The strong milky and slightly sweet flavor of this bread makes the traditional white bread taste so bland. And there is that signature soft texture. That incredibly fluffy and soft-pillowy texture makes this bread so addicting!

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this Instagram video I posted on pulling the bread apart:

The secret? All lies with the use of TangZhong – a special technique used in Asian bread baking.

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

TangZhong or 湯種 translates to water roux in Chinese. It is basically a creamy paste or roux made from cooking the water and flour mixture. Because the roux contains large amount of liquid, when it’s added to the bread it makes the bread traps extra moisture, hence the long lasting soft and fluffy bread.

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

The milk bread is so versatile that can served it as a toast for breakfast, make a sandwich for lunch, and serve as table bread for dinner. When I am bored, I also like to eat it as a snack with some soft butter or good jam. I am not crazy but the bread is just that yummy!

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

I have been experimenting my milk bread recipe on and off for a little over a year now.  After testing over a dozen of recipes available online, I finally came up with this recipe to make the milkiest, softest, and fluffiest bread you’ll ever had. Ever since then, I have not bought a single loaf of bread from stores…which is a good thing I suppose considering all that crazy chemicals used in making some commercial bread.

{Recipe} Soft Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Water Roux) Method

The process of making this bread is slightly more complex than normal white bread baking due to multiple stages of proofing. Also, the dough is on the wet and sticky side so if you plan to knead the dough by hand, make sure you bring plenty of patience and strength.

Sounds like a lot lot of work? Yes!

Is it really worth it? Absolutely!

Aisan Soft Milk Bread

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 35 minutes

Serving Size: 1 lb loaf 8.5" x 4.5" x 2.75"

Make this super soft milk bread following this step-by-step recipe at


    Water Roux (TangZhong)
  • 25g flour
  • 100ml milk
  • Bread Dough
  • 330g bread flour
  • 115g chilled water roux (TangZhong) from below recipe
  • 1 large egg, about 60g + more for egg wash
  • 5g active yeast + 30ml warm milk or water
  • 70ml heavy cream
  • 50g sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 30g butter, softened in room temperature


    To Make the Water Roux
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the milk and the flour. Whisk using a egg beater until lump-free
  2. Place the pan over low heat while whisking to keep the lumps from forming. In 3 minutes, the mixture starts to thicken. Keep stirring for 2 more minutes until the mixture becomes a smooth pasty roux. You should be able to get soft peaks out of the roux. Cool down the roux completely before you use. I suggest you to make the roux the day before and chill it in the fridge overnight
  3. To Make the Bread Dough for 1lb Loaf Pan (8.5" x 4.5" x 2.75")
  4. Proof the active yeast with 30ml of warm milk. Skip this step if you use instant yeast or fresh yeast
  5. In a stand mixer or bread machine, combine all the bread dough ingredients except for the butter. Place the wet ingredients on the bottom and the dry ingredients on top. Start kneading the dough in medium speed or according to the bread machine instruction. As the dough starts to form, feel the dough with your finger to make sure it’s soft and slightly sticky
  6. About 20 minutes into kneading and when the dough is completely formed, add the softened butter. Continue to knead to another 10 minutes or so
  7. When the dough is done, cover with a lid and let it ferment until the dough doubles the size.
  8. It normally takes between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours for the dough to fully rise depending on the room temperature. To speed up the process, you can preheat your oven to 100 F. Turn off. And place your dough in the oven
  9. When the dough is risen, place it on a workstation. Deflate by pressing down and pushing out the air. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and divide it into four portions
  10. Knead the dough into four balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes
  11. Take a ball, roll into a rectangular sheet using a rolling pin
  12. Take one end of the sheet and fold into the middle. Take the other end and fold it to the middle but slightly over laps the first fold. Start from one unfolded end and roll the folded dough from one end to the other end to form roll
  13. Cover all four rolls with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes
  14. Slightly press down the roll with your palm and roll out the dough to a rectangle. Flip over the dough and roll the rectangle into a cylinder. Pinch to seal the end
  15. Place all 4 cylinders into a parchment-paper-lined or well-oiled loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and proof for 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the temperature
  16. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 177 C. If you like slightly denser texture, stop proofing once the dough doubles the size and reaches the height of the loaf pan. For super soft bread, continue proofing the dough until it’s 1 inch above the pan
  17. Brush the loaf with egg was and bake at 350 F or 177c for 15 minutes. Take the loaf out and cover with a sheet of foil to prevent it from further browning. Place the loaf back to the oven
  18. Continue to bake for another 20 mintues. Remove the leaf from the pan and let cool on a cooking rack. Cut into slices once it’s completely cool down and serve fresh

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle July 28, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Hi Yi! Thanks for much for your recipe and instructions :) I am going to try it out soon, but was wondering why you did not finish the baking in the bread machine itself and only used the dough function? I want to use my bread machine (because I’m lazy :P), will it actually affect the texture if by machine? Thanks!


2 louai June 24, 2014 at 5:27 am

I have enjoyed this kind of bread but it’s great to see such a good, detailed recipe like what you’ve laid out for us here. Thank you!


3 Selena June 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Hi! This bread look really yummy but I can’t find the ounces or tablespoons and my electric scale doesn’t weigh grams, only ounces. Can you please tell us the measurements in ounces or tablespoons or cups? Thanks


4 Selena June 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Oh I forgot to say that I always find different answers on the internet, so it’s very confusing.


5 Yi June 24, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Hi Selena, thanks for checking out my blog. There is actually a measurement converter located on the right panel of this site. You should be able to use it to convert between different units. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!


6 Selena June 25, 2014 at 12:38 am

Thank you so much! Your website has lots of good food!


7 Raj kumar Das June 22, 2014 at 4:46 am

thanks for sharing this but may i use this in industrial bakery in 150kg mixing machine if yes then help me out what will be the dosage of Tangzong and the ratio of water and flour to make Tangzong


8 Yi June 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi there, i just did a quick math, if you were to use 150kg of flour for the main dough, you’d need tangzong made from 11.4kg of flour and 45455ml of milk/water. Hope this helps! Thanks for visiting!


9 Esther Tan June 18, 2014 at 3:16 am

I nearly gave up on bread making as I find it very challenging and my earlier attempts were not quite successful. When I saw your recipe I decided to give it one last try. I followed the instructions and tips carefully and I was overjoyed when my loaf turned out soft and fluffy and delicious! You have reignited my interest in bread baking! Thank you so much for your tips!


10 Yi June 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Hi Esther, thanks a lot for the feedback and congrats on your soft and fluffy bread! Keep up with the good work!


11 Daisy June 3, 2014 at 6:51 am

Fantastic bread. My dough was too crumbly so I added warm milk and double cream (50 ml in total) and follow the rest of your recipe. I made 8 little rolls (which is big after proofing) and fill them with bacon&cheese, ham&cheese and chocolate. They are gone in a blink….


12 Yi June 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for the feedback Daisy. Yeah this dough is perfect for buns with stuffing in there. I also use this dough to make some traditional Chinese baked buns. Glad you have enjoyed the recipe!!


13 Irene May 5, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Yi, I’m glad i found your blog and I’m glad that i decided to try your recipe instead of the other bread recipes out there for my first time making soft bread. I followed your recipe almost exactly (i add more sugar cuz i like sweet bread) and the bread turn excellent. Everybody said it’s delicious and super soft! Thank you Yi for sharing this recipe!!!


14 Ada April 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Made the bread, but had a problem with the 330 gm of flour. It was so wet that I added more than a cup additional four. Are the measurements correct?


15 Yi April 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Hello Ada, thanks for checking out my blog. Normally the amount of flour can be off by 20 to 30g but it should be off by one cup. I’d check the amount of liquid used in making the roux and proofing the yeast. When the roux is too watery it would affect the amount of flour needed. Hope this helps.


16 Shuhan March 30, 2014 at 3:46 am

ASIAN BREAD! This is the type of bread I grew up with, and though I have learntto love hard hearty crusty sourdough loaves, I have a special place in my heart for this sort of super soft asian bread. Good one Yi!


17 Rosanna March 25, 2014 at 7:52 am

Hi Yi,

I just discovered your website and I absolutely love it!!
I am so excited to make this bread BUT I don’t have a bread machine. Is it possible to bake this wonderful bread without the machine?
Any ideas or suggestions? Thank you Yi and have a wonderful day!



18 Yi March 25, 2014 at 9:10 am

Hello Rosanna, thanks for checking out this recipe! You actually don’t use a bread machine but only use it to knead the dough. You can knead the dough by hand or using a stand mixer. Hope this helps!


19 Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania March 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

I have had this bread in Hong Kong and it tasted superb. Your food pics tell that this bread was extremely fluffy and delicious. I am saving this recipe. Thanks!


20 mjskit March 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

This is the type of bread that I would eat right out of the oven and not stop eating until I was quite full or all of it was gone! I love that it uses a roux. Have never seen that. Can wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!


21 Lokness @ The Missing Lokness March 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Perfect looking! So fluffy and soft. I have bought a cookbook about making bread with TangZhong. Since bread making takes a lot of time, the book is still sitting on the shelf. After looking at your bread, I think I have to try your recipe very soon!


22 Abbe@This is How I Cook March 5, 2014 at 12:07 am

What a fun bread, Yi! Can’t wait to give it a try!


23 Sissi March 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Gorgeous bread! I love the photographs of different stages. Baking cakes and breads is such a fascinating process, isn’t it? Your bread looks so light and fluffy, I think it wouldn’t be left alone in my house for a long time.


24 Daniela March 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm

That’s a fantastic bread.
Golden browned, fluffy and moist. Who couldn’t wish for more?


25 Sandra | Sandra's Easy Cooking March 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Wow! I saw your pics and I only can applaud you on your masterpiece! What a great outcome…Love it! Well done!!!


26 Carolyn Jung March 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I know that bread well. Growing up, I thought of it as squish bread! Because you could practically squash it up to the size of a marble. Well, almost. ;)


27 Monica March 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

I have enjoyed this kind of bread many times and I’ve heard of this method recently…but it’s great to see such a good, detailed recipe like what you’ve laid out for us here. Thank you! Looks wonderful – I can almost smell it!


28 tigerfish March 3, 2014 at 1:32 am

Have heard about the Tang zhong method that gives soft, moist, fluffy bread – and that is really true from the look of your bread. Too bad I don’t do baking :(


29 Alex March 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I’m not too sure whether the recipes fully match, but it sounds a lot like our Portuguese “pão de leite” (“milk bread”). I love it so much: had mountains of it with ham when I was little.


30 Jeannie Tay March 2, 2014 at 9:53 am

Hi Yi, your bread definitely looks soft and fluffy! I have baked bread with this method before and love it but sometimes too lazy to go the extra step of cooking the tangzhong:P


31 Bam's Kitchen March 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

I always wondered how they made the milk bread here. thanks for the lovely recipe. I also like how you divided the dough into 4 sections and then let them rise together. Nice touch. Take Care, BAM


32 priscilla poh March 1, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Hello Yi,

Loaf or bread that has whipping cream and butter incorporated into it will definitely be soft and fluffy even without the use of Tangzhong.

I knew of this Hokkaido Milk Loaf thru Christine’s recipe some years ago. Recently, I was left with short amount of Tangzhong so could not proceed to make the loaf using Christine’s Hokkaido Milk loaf recipe. However, last minute, I quickly cooked up the custard paste and added the custard paste to the tangzhong to make up the short fall. Well, imagine, I got the world’s softest and flutter loaf! I did not even need to use whipping cream and butter but only some cream cheese is being added to the loaf and finished product stayed soft and fresh for more than 1 week.

So much healthier without the whipping cream and butter. Ingredients for custard paste are 65g water, 1 yolk, 15g bread flour, 10g sugar.

Priscilla Poh


33 Yi March 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Hello Priscilla,

Thank you for taking the time to share the custard trick!! I can’t wait to try this myself soon. It’d be great if I can achieve the same texture without using cream and butter. Thanks again!!


34 priscilla poh March 2, 2014 at 4:22 am

Thanks Yi for the response.

Just a example, The Hokkaido Milk Toast using 540 bread flour called for 184g tangzhong. I normally used all the custard paste and balanced with tangzhong. I add some 50g cream cheese in place of whipping cream and butter.

Hope you find success in trying out this method. However, on the side note, loaf or bread made with custard paste is more reliable than tangzhong. I find better success using custard paste. You may google for super soft bread using custard paste, very infallible method!

Priscilla Poh


35 Juliana March 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Your loaf of bread turned out beautiful, awesome texture…indeed this is a great technique…
Have a great weekend Yi :D


36 John@Kitchen Riffs March 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

This looks wonderful! We do tons of bread baking (in fact we rarely buy any these days) — I’ll have to tell Mrs K R (the baker in our household) about this. Terrific recipe — thanks.


37 Kent Ho March 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Hi Yi,

Thanks for the recipe. I tried to make the Water Roux, but it didn’t turn out as well as yours. I was wondering if the heating time has to be very precise? It started out watery and then it took a long time to start thickening, but once it started to thicken, it thickened really really fast and basically became a paste by the time i was done. It’s not watery like in your pictures but very thick. Once it starts to thicken, should i remove from heat immediately and continue stirring? Also, does the flour type matter? Does it have to be All purpose? I used bread flour. And I used 2% milk, is that ok? Thanks so much.


38 Yi March 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hello Kent, thanks for checking out the recipe. To answer your questions, you can use either bread flour or all purpose. I use all purpose normally. 2% milk should be fine as well. I keep my flour to liquid ratio at 1:4. So 25g flour goes with 100ml liquid.
Before I heat up the roux, I use a egg beater to do a thorough stir to make sure there are no lumps and the flour is well dissolved. When heating up, I keep a constant stir even at the very beginning when the mixture is still watery (yes it’s labor intensive :). When the mixture starts to get thicker, I turn the heat to the lowest and increase the intensity of the stir.
I turn off the heat as soon as the mixture is smooth and leaves a trail or form a soft peak. The consistence is sort like soft ice cream. After removing from the heat, the roux will continue to cook a little bit because the sauce pan is still hot. By the time it cools down completely you should have a good roux that is slightly thicker than when it was hot.
I hope this helps and please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.


39 Angie@Angie's Recipes March 1, 2014 at 3:58 am

The bread has turned out perfectly soft, fluffy and beautiful!


40 Ivy Sew March 1, 2014 at 12:10 am

Hi Yi, This bread does look indeed super soft and fluffy and moist too! It just look great and am very confident it’s delicious too. Am going to bookmark this super recipe of yours. Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful recipe, Yi. You have a great weekend ahead and Cheers :)


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