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Renee's Milk Bread

Renée’s Milk Bread

Renée Robinson

Soft, Fluffy, and Buttery Milk Bread is The Best!

I bake a lot of breads. It may be my favorite thing to bake. The entire process is so deeply satisfying, I can’t think of anything else I cook that gives me the same degree of pleasure. And there are so many different kinds that I’m constantly learning something new.

When it comes to soft and fluffy breads, milk bread is at the top of the list for me. I still remember the very first time I made it years ago and being astounded at it’s deliciousness. After making many different recipes, I’ve combined the best elements from several and have arrived at what I think is the best I’ve ever tasted. Mine is a little lighter than any others I’ve encountered, but it’s packed with milk and butter which are the 2 key ingredients. 

It’s the use of tangzhong that makes milk bread so special. Tangzhong is a technique that originated in Japan, which amounts to nothing more than cooking a simple mixture of flour and milk until it’s thickened, left to cool, and then added to the dough. Cooking the flour and milk pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches which increases its ability to retain liquid. This is why milk bread is so soft and tastes fresh for days. 

Cooked tangzhong

After mixing the dough ingredients in either a stand mixer or a bread dough mixer, it’s left to rise for about an hour. It will at least double in bulk. 

Dough after the first rise

My recipe makes either 2 loaves or 2 pans of rolls. I made one of each in order to show you the outcomes of both. After gently deflating the dough and dividing it in half, if you’re making the loaf, you then divide the dough into thirds, roll it out into ovals, fold over the edges and roll it up into a nice compact roll, which is placed into a loaf pan. Continue with the other 2 pieces of dough and the loaf is then left to rise. 

Saping Loaves
Rolling and shaping the dough for a loaf

If you’re making rolls, you divide the dough into 8 pieces, pinch the edges together and roll them in to balls which are then placed in an 8 inch cake pan and left to rise.

The dough is very easy to work with. Only a little flour is needed on the counter to prevent sticking. The dough has plenty of butter in it which keeps it beautifully supple.

Right before the risen loaf and rolls go into the oven, they’re brushed with an egg wash and you can add toppings if you wish. I chose coarsely ground black pepper for the rolls and left the loaf plain. As you can see in the photo they rise easily and really pop when they hit the oven. To be certain they’re done, I use an instant read thermometer to be certain the centers have reached 190°. 

Final rise
Dough is brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with black pepper right before going into the oven

I brush the tops with melted butter when they come out of the oven, remove them from the pans after 10 minutes and let them cool on a rack. But I’ve never been able to resist eating a roll before it’s thoroughly cooled. They’re out of this world when they’re warm. I heat up the leftover rolls at 325° for 3 or 4 minutes because I love them warm. But the loaf is lovely when it’s simply sliced at room temperature and it goes without saying that it makes beautiful toast. 

If you’ve shied away from bread baking, this is the perfect place to start because it’s straightforward, not at all fussy, and the end result is out of this world delicious. 

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Renée's Milk Bread

Recipe by Renée Robinson



What could be better than fresh out of the oven milk bread? My recipe is easy and produces the most tender and fluffy milk bread you'll ever eat.

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  • 200 grams - 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons milk for tangzhong

  • 36 grams - 1/4 cup bread flour for tangzhong

  • 625 grams - 4 1/4 cups bread flour

  • 112 grams - 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 5 teaspoons instant yeast or SAF Instant Gold Yeast

  • 2 teaspoons table salt

  • 226 grams - 1 cup whole milk

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • Tangzhong from above

  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces

  • 1 large egg for egg wash

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing on the baked bread


  • Tangzhong: In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, cook the 200 grams of milk and 36 grams of flour, while whisking constantly until thickened to a paste. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk, eggs, and tangzhong in a stand mixer, using the paddle. Mix at medium high speed until the dough has come together and is cohesive.
  • Add butter one piece at a time and continue to mix on medium high for 10 minutes. If using a bread dough machine, let it run for the full mix cycle.
  • Place the dough in a large greased bowl, lightly greasing the top of the dough, covering it, and letting it rise until at least doubled - 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Gently deflate and divide the dough in half. I recommend using a digital scale for this. If making rolls, divide each half into 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, pull the edges toward the center, pinching them together. Place it pinched side down on the counter. Cup your hand around the ball and rotate the ball in a circular motion until you have a nice round shape. Place the balls of dough into an 8 x 2 inch lightly greased round cake pan.
  • If making loaves, divide each half of the dough into thirds. Working with one piece at a time, roll out the piece of dough to an 8 x 4 inch oval. Fold each long side toward the center by 1/2 inch. Then starting at a short end, roll the dough into a 4 inch long log. Place in a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Repeat with the other 2 pieces.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° with a rack in the center.
  • Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes. The top of the loaf should only rise to about a half inch above the rim of the pan. The rolls and the loaf will become very puffy.
  • Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush the rolls and/or loaves with the egg wash. You can add toppings, such as sesame seeds, flaky salt, poppy seeds, etc. I chose to add cracked black pepper to the top of my rolls.
  • Bake the rolls and loaf for 28 - 30 minutes. They are done when they have reached a deep golden brown color and an instant read thermometer registers 190° in the center of the bread. Brush with the melted butter and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely. I like to warm up my rolls at 325° in my counter top oven for 3 to 4 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


  • 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pan and/or 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan
  • Stand Mixer or Bread Dough Machine

2 Responses

  1. This recipe is now my “go-to” for holiday rolls! The recipe is so easy to follow and I appreciate that everything is given in weight measurements – takes a lot of guess work our of baking, especially for us beginners. I made the recipe exactly as written but after forming the rolls, I covered with greased plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator overnight. I then removed from the refrigerator about 2 hours before baking and proceeded as directed. FANTASTIC! Beautiful, tender tasty rolls that will completely wow your guests!!

    1. Gary, your rolls are absolutely beautiful!!! I’m so happy you love them, too. And it’s good to know the overnight cold ferment worked out well. Being able to have them all made up the day before is so helpful, isn’t it? That way you can easily have warm rolls for dinner without any hassle. By the way, I always freeze any leftovers. They heat up perfectly and taste like they’re freshly baked. Thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed these.

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