Years back, one of the first few loaves I attempted to bake at home was a Hokkaido milk bread recipe, they were all over the internet then. It’s not hard to fall in love with these milk loaves when they are so fluffy, soft and sweet. That’s how I learned that the rich milky aroma actually comes from a combination of milk PLUS milk powder, whipping cream, egg, and sweetener. Over time, I slowly removed or reduced the latter four ingredients from my loaf recipe in pursuit of a healthier bread for breakfast.
Another signature feature of the Japanese bread is this ubiquitous “pull apart web” effect, which I have managed to achieved with various root vegetable loaf recipes. As long as the dough has been kneaded to reach the window pane stage, this outcome will somehow be a given. And I have also skipped the tangzhong or sponge method, the go-to method for fluffy Japanese style bread, opting for the easier straight dough method instead. The sponge method is said to be good for keeping the crumbs soft for the next 1 or 2 days, in a case of leftover. Since we usually finish up the bread in 2 days or less, plus I have noticed my 2 days old buns baked with root vegetables seem to do well in retaining their soft texture, the straight dough method will suffice.
I just bought a packet of milk powder to modify some of my root vegetables bread recipes, I miss that whiff of creamy dairy aroma that appears when you stick your nose close to your bread. There is only so much fresh milk I can add to my recipes without turning it into a shaggy mess. So I am turning to milk powder for help for today’s bake.
Taro Milk Loaf
225g plain flour 3 tablespoons instant milk powder 2 tablespoons raw sugar 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 105g mashed taro 95g fresh milk 20g cold butter, cubed
In a mixer bowl, place the dry ingredients: plain flour, instant milk powder, raw sugar, instant yeast, and sea salt, mix these dry ingredients well with a hand whisk. Next, add cooled mashed taro and half of the milk to the dry ingredients, and knead with a dough hook attachment on the lowest speed (KA 1). Slowly add the remaining of the milk with the mixer running, you may need more or less of the milk stated in the recipe. Watch the dough, when the ingredients come into a ball, stop adding and turn off the mixer. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Start the mixer running on its lowest speed again to knead the dough for 1 minute, before adding cubed butter, one by one. Knead until the dough reaches window pane stage, this is when the dough becomes very smooth and elastic, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the bowl from mixer, cover and bulk rise for 1 hour.
After an hour, the dough should rise to double its volume, punch it down to release the gas, and transfer to a clean work top. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions (mine is about 166-168g each.) Flatten the dough and roll out with a pin. Then roll up the dough like a swiss roll from the shorter end. Place it in a well-greased Pullman tin, seam side downwards. Repeat with the remaining 2 portions.
Let the bread rise for 60 minutes then bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 170C. Remove bread from tin immediately after baking and leave it to cool completely on a rack.