Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hokkaido Milk Buns

I've made a lot of bread in my baking lifetime. A TON. But never have I made a bun that was this amazing. 
High praise, right?
It's totally worthy. 
These are the fluffiest, tastiest, softest, squishiest buns in the history of the world. Probably. I mean... I haven't eaten every bun ever... but I've eaten a LOT of bread so I'm kind of an expert so I'm making the call. 
It's made with a process called tangzhong - which basically means water-roux. It takes a few more minutes but I will be making all my bread using this method from now on. 
It's magic. For real though. 
I'm a total newbie to this so I would suggest doing your own research on Pinterest and Google, watch a few videos so you get the gist of it, and then give it a go. It's not at all hard! 
My next project is to make cinnamon buns with this recipe. #soexcited
(FYI - I've not credited any particular site for this recipe as it is everywhere and has been around forever. I am not the inventor of this recipe but I am sharing my version of it!) 
Also: I should add that you need to use bread flour and not all purpose for this recipe. It won't work nearly as well with all purpose! 

Hokkaido Milk Buns

6 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp milk
4 Tbsp bread flour

5 cups bread flour
4 Tbsp dry milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp instant yeast (Rapid Rise)
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp heavy cream

Honey Butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, soft
generous pinch cinnamon

Make the tangzhong - combine water, milk, and bread flour in a pan over medium - low heat, whisking until smooth. Cook and stir constantly until lines are left when you drag the spoon through the pan, about 3 - 5 minutes. (A roux that is fairly loose)
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly on surface, and put in fridge while you prepare the dough.

Prepare dough - In the bowl of a stand mixer: whisk bread flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a separate bowl - whisk together warm milk, eggs, melted butter, and the cooled tangzhong (it's okay if it's still a little warm). 
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and turn stand mixer on low for 2 minutes (using dough hook). Increase to medium and knead for 10 - 20 minutes, until dough is shiny and no longer sticky. It will be a bit tacky, but not sticky. (NOTE - I ended up adding a few spoonfuls of warm water because I found my dough was really dry. Make sure you give it about 5 minutes before adding any additional ingredients because it takes a while to come together. Don't be tempted to add more flour until almost done kneading and only if your dough is still really sticky.)
NOTE - it will take at least 10 minutes up to 20 minutes. Seriously. Let the machine do the work. 
Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it.

Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half. 
Prepare 2 - 10 X 10 (or you can use 9 X 9, you will have to adjust your cooking time) pans by greasing the bottoms with butter. Set aside. 

Once the dough has doubled, place it on a work surface. (You shouldn't need to put flour down, the dough shouldn't be too sticky.)
Roll to a 9 X 18 rectangle. Cut into 18 roughly equal sized pieces. Roll the pieces into smooth balls and place 9 balls in each of the prepared pans.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. During the last 15 minutes of rise time, preheat the oven to 350. The buns are ready when they have doubled in size. 

Prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg and heavy cream. Using a basting or pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash on the tops of the buns. 

Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 - 25 minutes. (If you use a thermometer to check your bread, it should read 190)

Let cool for about 10 minutes before trying to remove them from the pan. You can flip them out but I should warn you - they are so soft and squishy that flipping them does squish the tops a little. I found cutting them out, one at a time, saved the smoothness. Of course, flipping them only does a little cosmetic damage and does not really do anything to them. 

I served them with a little honey butter. Optional, but a fabulous idea. 
To prepare the honey butter all you have to do is whip together the honey, butter, and pinch of cinnamon until fluffy. 

Guys... the pictures do not do it justice. They are so squishy. Not to mention the amazing flavor that the dry milk powder adds. I could eat all of them. Right now. Somebody stop me. 
Anyhoo... I'm not sure how I missed out on the tangzhong method for so long but now that I know about it.... everything is getting tangzhong-ed. 
I cannot wait to try cinnamon rolls with this recipe. 
I almost forgot! The buns are super shiny at the end because when they came out of the oven I brushed them with a little melted butter. This is optional but will make your buns nice and glossy and will also help to soften up the top crust even more. 


  1. I will have to try making these buns. Eggs? Must be one of the secret ingredients. Great instructions and tips. I am happy to see your recipe calls for Rapid Rise. It's the best and most dependable, IMO.

  2. These really do look amazing! I've never heard of the tangzhong method but I can't wait to try it!

    1. I hadn't heard of it either but it is really amazing. Interesting what adding a little roux can do! :)

  3. These buns look so darn soft and fluffy! I've heard of milk buns before, but never attempted them myself. I think it's time to give them a try.

    1. Thanks Nicole! Definitely my new favorite!

  4. They are simply gorgeous! Bravissimi! I had never heard of Tangzhong, learned something new. We use pasta madre here in Sicily but I can never make it, it comes out bad all the time.