Japanese milk buns

Japanese milk buns

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  • 11 buns
  • Medium
  • 25 minutes, plus 1 hour 40 minutes’ proving time
  • 12 minutes

Japanese milk buns are light, sweet buns known for their distinct, milky taste and their soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. This recipe is from Luke Dale Roberts' The Test Kitchen Fledgelings.


  • For the tanghzong:
  • 35 g white bread flour
  • 6½ T milk
  • 3 T water
  • For the dough:
  • 500 g white bread flour
  • 1 T fine salt
  • 55 g sugar
  • 2 x 10 g instant yeast, packets
  • 1⁄3 cup milk
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 6 T water
  • 66 g butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • For the egg wash, mix:
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 T milk

Cooking Instructions

1. To make the tanghzong, place all the ingredients into a medium saucepan. Cook the mixture over a medium heat, whisking continually, until it forms a thick paste. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.

3. With the mixer running at a slow speed, add the milk, egg, egg yolks, water and tanghzong to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Knead in the machine for 5 minutes.

4. Slowly add the butter, one cube at a time. When the butter is incorporated, knead for a further 5 minutes.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Prove at room temperature for 30–40 minutes. or until doubled in size. Knock down the dough and divide into 100 g pieces. Roll the pieces into smooth balls and place on a lined baking tray. Cover the dough and allow to rise for 40–60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the buns with the egg wash. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the tray every 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, then cut.

Cook’s note: A tanghzong (also known as a water roux) is a cooked mixture of flour and water. It makes bread softer and keeps it fresher for longer

Find more bread recipes here.

Photograph: Jan Ras
Production: Abigail Donnelly



Luke Dale-Roberts Recipe by: Luke Dale-Roberts
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Considered a foodie visionary by most, Luke Dale-Roberts is the mastermind behind SA's number one restaurant, The Test Kitchen, as well as The Pot Luck Club.

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