This Japanese milk bread is the softest dinner rolls you will ever make. Light, and airy as a cloud, the bread dough uses the Asian method of water roux called tangzhong. Delish on its own but perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Total dough - 750 grams - Makes 9 rolls x 80 grams each
In a saucepan, combine water and flour with a whisk until no lumps. Add the milk and combine well again.Pro tip - It is very important to make sure you have no lumps as these will be difficult to remove from the dough.
30 g Milk, 30 g Water, 30 g Bread flour
Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook this mixture for 2 to 3 minutes. Keep stirring constantly to prevent lumps.Pro tip - Keep the hear on medium-low. At first, the mixture will take a while to thicken, but then it does get thicker quickly. So, keep a close eye and take it off just when it reaches almost paste consistency similar to a pudding.
Take it off the heat and transfer into a bowl or plate. Cover and let cool to almost room temperature. Make sure the plastic touches the surface of the tangzhong to prevent a skin.Pro tip - Removing from the hot pan will prevent it from cooking further as we don't want it to get lumpy.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the lukewarm milk (no warmer than 110 F) and the yeast. Combine well with a whisk. Then, add the sugar, milk powder, egg and cooled tangzhong.
180 g Warm milk, 7 g Instant dry yeast, 15 g Sugar, 15 g Milk powder, 50 g Egg, 1 batch Tangzhong
Add the flour and salt. Turn the mixer on medium-high speed. Pro tip - Scrape the sides of the bowl well to ensure all the flour is well incorporated and do not add more flour unless necessary (½ measuring cup).
375 g Bread flour, 6 g Kosher salt
Once all the flour has been incorporated, knead.- By hand - Transfer to a well-dusted worktop and knead for 5 to 6 minutes - Stand mixer - Once all the flour is well incorporated knead on medium for 4 to 5 minutes.
Then, gradually add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter has been incorporated, knead for 3 minutes more.
45 g Butter
When the dough is soft, shiny, but still slightly sticky shape into a ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl seam side down. Coat the surface with oil to prevent drying. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap.
Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until double in volume. Pro tip - In winter, you may need 90 minutes or more. But in summer, the dough may double in 45 minutes. If you can't attend to it at that moment, de-gas, reshape, and let double in volume again.
Shape the rolls
When the dough is double in volume, transfer to a well-dusted floured surface. De-gas, reshape into a ball. Then roll into a small log. Pro tip - At this point, there is no need for additional flour. So use a light dusting of flour.
Using a dough scraper divide this log into three portions and then each of those portions into 3 again. This should give you 9 dinner rolls. Pro tip - The odd number 9 is because we are using a square baking pan. You can also divide into 8 medium or 12 small rolls, use an 8-inch round or rectangle sheet pan.
How to shape dinner rolls
Hold each piece of dough in your hand and gather all the seams together. Pinch the seams at the bottom. Then, place the ball on a non-flour surface while still holding it in your hand.
Loosen the grip on the dough and roll back and forth into a tight circle against the work surface. You will feel the dough become tight and smooth. Pro tip - The goal is to create a tight, smooth ball. If you overdo the rolling you will rip the top surface which will give a rough, not smooth roll.
Proof and bake
Grease or spray a 9 x 9 square baking pan. Place the rolls in the pan. Alternatively, you can also place the rolls on a baking tray and bake them as individual rolls.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes until almost double in size.Pro tip - Spray the plastic wrap with oil to prevent it from sticking to the rolls.
When the rolls are almost double in volume, at about 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5.
Brush the rolls with egg wash, milk, or cream.Pro tip - Egg wash is a full egg with 2 tablespoon of water. An egg wash will give a nice golden color. If you can't use egg, milk or cream will work just as well. Do not use oil or butter as it will create a crust.
1 Egg, 2 tablespoon Water
Bake for about 22 to 25 minutes until lightly golden on top. When baked, brush with melted butter.Pro tip - This is optional but adds a nice flavor and keeps the top crust soft.
2 tablespoon Sesame seeds
Take them out of the pan and cover them with a clean kitchen cloth for at least 5 minutes to keep them soft.Pro tip - Do not leave the rolls in the pan for too long as the steam will make the bread soggy on the bottom.
Cook the tangzhong at medium to low speed so the flour has a chance to absorb the liquid - if you cook on high heat the liquid will evaporate.
Also, you need to stir the tangzhong continuously but not vigorously. Why? we want to avoid gluten formation.
The tangzhong must be a paste consistency and it gets thicker as it cools so remove it earlier rather than later. If it gets too thick and lumpy it will be difficult to incorporate into the dough.
Cool the tangzhong to room temperature before you add it to the dough. But do not place it in the fridge to avoid lumps.
Add salt to the flour, not the yeast mixture. Salt can kill the yeast.
Knead the dough for the time mentioned in the recipe. Using a timer works great to under or over-knead the dough.
Bread flour works best for this bead making it soft and chewy. Having said that, I have used all-purpose flour and it works just as well.
Overnight rolls - The dough can be prepared a day in advance. Proof them for an hour on the counter then punch down and let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. Overnight proofing is a great way to add flavor to the bagels. The next day, let the dough come to room temperature before you shape and bake them.
Storing rolls - These rolls do freeze beautifully. Cool the baked buns then place them in a freezer-safe storage bag. These can be frozen for up to a month.
Kneading the dough - If possible use an electric mixer because the dough is soft and sticky.
Bread machine - these rolls can be easily made in a bread machine. Pour all ingredients in the pan set to dough or manual. Start and let the dough run its cycle for about 9 to 10 minutes - continue with the recipe as shown above.
Keeping the rolls soft - The best way to keep homemade bread soft is to contain the steam within the bread. So, while they are still hot, place a clean kitchen cloth over them and let them rest for 10 minutes. Keeping these dinner rolls covered will also keep them from drying out.
Freezing dinner rolls - For make-ahead or freezer-friendly dinner rolls, bake the rolls as instructed in this recipe. Let them cool completely. Once cooled, place them in an airtight freezer-safe ziplock bag. For best results, thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds or more as needed.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you