This bread, also called 'Hokkaido bread' or 'Shokupan' in Japanese is a sensationally soft and fluffy sweetened milk bread whose cloud-like texture and creamy after-taste are thanks to, well, all the milk added to the ingredients during preparation.
The dairy aspect is why it’s called Hokkaido; in honor of the northernmost island of Japan famed for its fantastic quality diary products (in turn, all down to the cows dining out on the region's lush grasslands). While the bread style originated on the island in the late 19th / early 20th century, Hokkaido is today produced in bakeries throughout Japan. It’s also a firm favorite for home baking projects.
Authentic Hokkaido milk bread (it’s also often referred to as Shokupan; that’s a slightly different bread although no one complains if you confuse the two!) is made using the using tangzhong method, a warm flour-and-water roux that - the name’s a clue - originated in China.
Tangzong results in loaves (and buns) that have a creamy mouth feel - a soft, springy texture and tiny air bubbles. Milk bread - including our Matcha infused recipe - has quite a few stages but all the ingredients are readily available in stores (including ours for that secret matcha addition) and it’s a cinch to make at home. It’s especially fun if you’re looking for a kitchen co-production you can work on with kids.
Makes one loaf
20 g bread flour
100 g water
300 g bread flour
30 g sugar
6 g salt
5 g instant yeast
5 g dry milk powder
130 g milk
1 large egg, whisked
25 g butter, softened
60 g butter, softened
60 g sugar
2 tsp matcha
Make the tangzhong starter. You can make tangzhong ahead of time (a day or even hours in advance) and store it in the refrigerator. Just let it come to room temperature before use.
In a stand mixer, measure out all the dry ingredients in the bowl and give it a quick whisk.
Add the milk, tangzhong, and approximately half of the egg (save the rest for the egg wash). Use the hook attachment and knead at low speed.
Once the dough comes together, add the butter in 3 increments.
When the butter is fully incorporated, turn up the speed to medium-high and continue kneading. The dough is ready when it is smooth, elastic, and pulls off cleanly from the side of the bowl. This can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the mixer.
*To check if the dough is kneaded enough, use the window pane test. Grab a small piece of dough and slowly stretch it with your fingers. It should be translucent enough to see through it. This dough is very sticky! You can use gloves and/or lightly coat your hands with oil before working with the dough.
For the first proof. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Lightly coat the mixing bowl with oil and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let proof in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size (about 1 to 2 hours). The dough is ready when you poke a hole with your finger and it does not spring back up.
Whip the butter with the sugar with a spatula. Add in the matcha powder and mix.
Assemble. Once the dough is proofed, place it onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the dough and roll it out to a rectangle.
Spread the matcha filling onto the rectangle and roll up the dough from the shorter end like a cinnamon roll. When you get to the end, pinch to secure the roll together.
Use a knife or pastry cutter to slice the dough (the long way) in half, but leave the top end in tack. Cross the 2 tails (over and under) each other. Tuck the two ends on the bottom of the dough and place into a bread pan.
For the second proof. Cover with a kitchen towel and let proof until almost doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Please send us pictures of your finished bakes and we’ll upload them to our Ocha and Co Insta!
When buying our Japanese grown and produced Matcha specifically for cooking, baking, and making smoothies, we recommend you opt for our regular variety over our superior grade. We might call it ‘regular’ but it’s still very high quality - you’ll get all the flavors, especially that interesting bitterness that works so well with sugars and fats when cooked with. The difference is the leaves it’s produced from are older - they’re from lower down the plant whereas the best quality Matcha only contains the youngest leaves from the top - and so that vibrant green is a little reduced. You’d perhaps notice if you were drinking it but for cooking, it makes no difference. You can use more of it, too because it’s cheaper