Overhead image of milk rolls in a round cake pan set on a white table

Japanese Milk Bread Rolls (Hokkaido Milk Bread)

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes + 2 ⅓ hours rest time
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8 rolls 1x
  • Category: Baking / Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Japanese


These milk rolls are tender, fluffy, and perfectly moist.



Tangzhong (starter)

  • 3 tablespoons (43g) water
  • 3 tablespoons (43g) AE Dairy Whole Milk
  • 2 tablespoons (14g) unbleached bread flour


  • 2 cups (244g) unbleached bread flour
  • ½ cup white whole-wheat flour (61g)
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder (11g)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • ½ cup (113g) AE Dairy Whole Milk + more for brushing rolls
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted + more for brushing on rolls
  • Flaky sea salt


For the Tangzhong, vigorously whisk together 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons AE Whole Milk, and 2 tablespoons bread flour in a small saucepan until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain.

Cook Tangzhong over low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and whisk leaves a trail on bottom of pan, 3–5 minutes.

Transfer Tangzhong to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl is mixing by hand) and let cool to room temperature.

For the dough, combine bread flour, whole-wheat flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and yeast in a medium bowl; set aside.

Add AE Whole Milk, egg and melted butter to stand mixer with Tangzhong; stir to combine. Add flour mixture to stand mixer, attach dough hook to mixer and turn mixer to low speed. Mix and knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 8–9 minutes.

Remove dough from mixer, briefly knead a couple of times by hand then transfer to a large greased bowl; cover bowl with a kitchen towel or loosely with plastic and let rest until puffy but not quite doubled in size, 75–90 minutes.

Gently punch down dough; divide it into 8 equal pieces. Form dough pieces into smooth, taut rounds (see recipe note below).

Place dough rounds in a generously greased 9-inch cake pan (round or square). Cover Pan with a kitchen towel or loosely with plastic and let rounds rest until puffy, 45–50 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F with rack set in middle position.

Brush rounds with AE Whole Milk. Bake rolls until tops are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190ºF, 25–28 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack; let rolls cool in pan for 10–25 minutes. Run a butter knife around edges of pan and gently lift rolls out of pan; transfer to wire rack.

Brush tops of rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt.


To form smooth, taut dough balls, set a piece of dough on your countertop (unfloured). Loosely cup your hand around the dough and, without applying pressure to dough, rapidly move your hand in a circular motion. The tackiness of the dough, the bare work surface, and the rapid motion should naturally create a smooth even ball. If by chance the dough sticks to the counter or your hands, very lightly dust your hands with flour.

To make a loaf of bread instead of rolls: After the first rise, divide dough into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle, then fold the short ends in towards one another like a letter. Flatten the folded pieces into rectangles again and, starting with a short end, roll them each into a log. Place the logs, seams side down, in a row of four in a generously greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel or loosely with plastic and let it rest until puffy, 45–50 minutes. Brush the loaf with milk and bake at 350°F until golden brown on top and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190°F, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool at least 30 minutes.


  • Serving Size: 1 roll
  • Calories: 237
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 319mg
  • Fat: 8g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 41mg

Keywords: milk bread rolls, Japanese milk bread, Japanese milk bread rolls, milk bread