Aug 12, 2016

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

This Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong combines two of my favorite bread techniques, using sourdough starter to leaven bread, and using the Tangzhong method, which involves creating a roux of flour and water. This technique creates an incredibly soft bread. 

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

In addition, the use of sourdough, or levain, adds flavor to the bread. This is because the levain ferments over time, getting yeast from the environment. In a nutshell, the longer fermentation helps the dough develop a deeper flavor. The use of sourdough also lengthens the "life" of the bread. My explanation is pretty simplistic. There is so much more bread geeky-ness to this. To learn more, check out this article from The Joy of Cooking.

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

The Tangzhong method involves boiling flour and water to 65 degrees Celsius, or 149 degrees Fahrenheit. This gelatinizes the flour and creates a super soft dough. If you've ever been in as Asian grocery store or bakery, you've probably seen the super high and soft loaves of bread.

I was first inspired by this method from reading Christine's Recipes. I have since baked the following breads using the method:
This is the first time I've tried this bread with sourdough. I definitely noticed a difference. The bread was not quite as ethereal as the typical bread using Tangzhong and yeast. However, it is still much softer than a typical free form sourdough loaf, and is perfect for sandwiches and morning toast. It also makes the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches. It was also a lot of fun to make.

If you don't have a sourdough starter, but would like to try this method, I recommend one of the breads listed above. For my sourdough geek friends, I definitely recommend this bread. Sometimes you just need sandwich bread!

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong


For the Tangzhong:

  • 25 grams bread flour
  • 125 grams water

Final dough:

  • 80 grams active 100 percent hydration sourdough starter
  • 110 grams milk, skimmed, low fat, or whole
  • 100 grams water
  • 1 tsp barley malt
  • 1 tsp powdered milk
  • All of the Tangzhong
  • 440 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams sugar
  • 8 grams sea salt
  • 20 grams olive oil


  1. To make the Tangzhong, whisk 25 grams of flour and 125 grams of water in a saucepan. Cook it on low heat until it is just thickened. If you have a thermometer, it should just reach 149 degrees F (65 degrees C).
  2. Remove it from the heat and transfer to a small bowl to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sourdough starter, milk, water, and barley malt. Mix with the paddle attachment about a minute.
  4. Add the powdered milk, Tangzhong, and half of the flour. Mix on low to incorporate. Switch to the dough hook and add the sugar, the rest of the flour, and the salt. Mix for 7 to 10 minutes, slowly adding the oil as you mix, until you have a very smooth and sticky dough.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and stretch and fold. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 45 minutes. Stretch and fold a second time.
  7. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough into six even pieces (I used a scale).
  9. Flatten each piece into a rectangle, and then fold the rectangle into thirds, like and envelope. Roll the envelope into a coil, like a cinnamon roll. Place all six pieces into an oiled 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, as pictured, with the seam side down (like snails).
  10. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 3 to 6 hours.
  11. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the loaf for about 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and the interior reaches at least 190 degrees F. Tent with foil if the top is becoming too brown while baking.
  12. Remove the loaf from the oven. Let cool in the pan for about five minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Yield: 1 2 pound loaf

Adapted from Kitchen in the Sand

Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong


  1. I don't usually like super soft bread, but when you describe this as sour dough slightly softer than the usual, I'm intrigued. Plus, I'll go with any bread you make - you're my bread guru, just as Grace is my stir-fry mentor:)

    1. It's really interesting with the sourdough flavor! You might just like it! ;)

  2. What can I use instead of the barely malt ? I don't have any :(

    1. You could use sugar or honey instead. They'd both be fine. :)

  3. Refreshed my started every 8 hours prior to tone down the acidity. Followed everything except the barley malt and it was perfect. The soft texture lasts for few days, if it even lasts that long. =)

    1. You just made my bread baker's heart very happy!

  4. Hi Karen,

    I have been trying to make bread using SD and raisin yeast water in the SD. But, I am new to SD baking.
    I have some questions regarding the SD Tanzhong bread.

    What is the difference between using my KA classic mixer and slap and fold method?
    If using the mixer, how long should I mix the dough?
    I see that there is a lot of added ingredients, normally for SD the dough should be retarded for an overnight in the fridge. But, yours was only 6 -8 hours in RT. What is the difference? Does it still produce light soft bread?
    I have been trying to make SD soft bread, but twice my breads were dense and heavy, instead of soft/tender and shreddable. Do you know how to produce the tender bread with SD? I mixed with KA for about 15 minutes and then retarded for overnight in the fridge.

    Appreciate any info I can get to improve my Sd baking.

    Thank you,

    Sri Muljani

    1. Hi Sri! I think the slap and fold method is used for really wet dough to develop the gluten. When in doubt, I usually use a mixer for about 7-10 minutes. It depends on the kind of bread you are making. Some enriched breads take much longer.

      As far as how long, you could retard it in the fridge for longer if you like. You might want to add a tiny bit of yeast to boost your dough and see how that works. I also have a sourdough sandwich bread on this blog you might want to visit. You could add some potato water (the water leftover from boiling potatoes) and see if that helps! Thanks for visiting!

  5. Hi, Karen
    Is the milk powder essential? Can I just use only milk instead of milk / water mix if I don't have any milk powder?

    1. It's such a small amount, I'm sure it would not really matter. I think you'd be just fine!

  6. I made this yesterday and it turned out great! I was searching for a soft sourdough recipe and someone mentioned to search for a milk bread recipe. I subbed in soy milk and coconut milk powder for the milk and milk powder and both worked just fine.

    1. That's great to hear! Thanks for letting me know about the substitutions. I'll have to try that.


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