Gluten Free Japanese Milk Bread – the softest bread ever

Gluten Free Japanese Milk Bread – the softest bread ever

This super simple recipe for gluten free Japanese milk bread makes the softest recipe for batter-style gluten free bread you’ve ever seen—or tasted!

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

Have you ever heard of Japanese Water Roux (Tangzhong)? As a card-carrying member of the Food Dorks Academy, I love learning what other cultures do to make bread. And then I hunker down and bury myself in figuring out how to make it into gluten free bread for us. I might not be the most fun at parties any more.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

But if you make this supersoft gluten free bread that stays fresh forever, you might just see that I’m tons of fun in the kitchen. And by might, I mean will. And by fun I mean hands-off-my-bread-get-your-own. I learned about this from someone else’s virtual kitchen.

I adapted it from The 350 Degree Oven: Adventures in Mika’s Kitchen. She assembles her dough differently, and I’m sure more authentically. What do I know? I’ve never been to Japan. My method of assembling the loaf is a bit simpler, since I’m fairly certain that I’m a bit simpler than Mika. And by simple I mean … simple.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread everThis is what it looks like. I don’t really know what else to say. I think I just teared up a little.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

To make the water roux, place about 1/3 cup all purpose gluten free flour and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and whisked to combine well. Cook it over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, and after almost exactly 2 minutes (yes, I timed it ), it thickened quite a lot.

Once you see the whisk leaving tracks in its wake, it’s done. Remove it from the heat right away. You don’t want to overcook it. Then, let it cool.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

 put it in this here container, and refrigerated it. It makes enough for 2 loaves of bread (140g water roux per loaf), and I’m definitely going to be making more gluten-free bread with this stuff. It’s magic!

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

The dough is shaggy. And tacky to the touch. But you’ll dust it with more flour and pat it out into a rectangle, then divide it into 6 pieces.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

Then roll each piece out into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. After that, gently fold each disk over on itself from short side to short side.

Gluten-Free Japanese Milk Bread - the softest gluten free bread ever

Loosely stack the folded pieces of dough in a loaf pan. Make sure you don’t pack the dough in there, or it won’t bake evenly and you may have raw bits here in there in the dough even after it’s baked. You want the air to be able to circulate everywhere.

Spray the loaf with warm water, cover the pan with plastic wrap and place the pan in a warm, draft-free place to rise until it’s about 150% its original size.

Gluten Free Japanese Milk Bread - the Softest Gluten Free Bread Ever

This super simple recipe for gluten free Japanese milk bread makes the softest recipe for batter-style gluten free bread you've ever seen—or tasted!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 loaf of bread


Water Roux
1/3 cup (47 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) water

Bread dough
3 cups (420 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter), plus more by the tablespoon if necessary (and extra for dusting)

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons instant (or rapid-rise or breadmaker) yeast

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) + 1 egg white (25 g)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) warm milk (low-fat is fine, nonfat is not), about 100°F

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 c (140 g) water roux (half the yield of the recipe referred to earlier)*


  • First, make the water roux. You’ll make twice the amount you need for one loaf of bread, but you can store the rest in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a few days until you’re ready to make another loaf. In a small saucepan, place the roux ingredients and whisk to combine well. Cook the roux over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes or until thickened enough that the whisk is leaving a trail. Remove it from the heat immediately and allow to cool until no longer hot to the touch.


  • Grease and line a standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and set it aside.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place 3 cups of the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, sugar and yeast, and whisk with a separate handheld whisk to combine well. Add the kosher salt, and whisk once again to combine. Add the vinegar, egg and egg white, milk, butter and water roux, mixing well after each addition with the mixer on low speed. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the wet ingredients, turn the mixer up to high speed and allow to mix for about 5 minutes. The dough should be shaggy and tacky to the touch. If it is wet, add more flour by the tablespoon and mix to combine well until it is no longer truly wet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour, and pat into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

  • Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Dust each piece with flour, and roll lightly or pat out into a flat disk about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkling with flour if there are sticky spots. Fold each disk loosely in half from one short end to the other. Stand the prepared loaf pan on one short side, and begin to stack the folded pieces of dough one behind the other, the rounded (folded) part facing up. Handle the dough gently, still taking care not to compress the dough at all. You want it to have room to rise, and to expand in the oven so it bakes evenly.Right the loaf pan on its bottom, spray the dough lightly with warm water, and cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free location to ris until it has reached about 150% of its original volume. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350°F (for a softer crust, heat the oven to only 325°F, and bake a few minutes longer).

  • Once the dough has finished rising, remove the plastic wrap and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the bread from the loaf pan and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Return the bread on the baking sheet to the oven and continue to bake until the loaf is firm to the touch and sounds hollow when thumped, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

  • Adapted from The 350 Degree Oven: Adventures in Mika’s Kitchen.


Comments are closed.

  • May 16, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    […] be a sign that you should be creating something out of the ordinary, but I’m not sure. Following this recipe for the sofest gluten-free bread (true claim), I baked. I watched the bread rise atop my warm […]

  • […] a sign that you should be creating something out of the ordinary, but I’m not sure. Following this recipe for the sofest gluten-free bread (true claim), I baked. I watched the bread rise atop my warm […]

  • […] all-purpose gluten-free flour, or, better yet, plain gluten-free rice flour.I used the recipe for Japanese Milk Bread, since it’s truly one of my favorite breads in this world thankyouverymuch. And rather than […]

  • […] a copy. Turn to page 104. It’s still my favorite bread-recipe-child.French Bread, Step x Step.Japanese Milk Bread, made with a water roux. The softest bread. truly.White Sandwich Bread, again. Page 104.Brown […]

  • Sarah
    February 26, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    So I just tasted my first loaf of Japanese Milk Bread. It looks beautiful AND tastes wonderful. It’s definitely the best gluten free bread I’ve made so far!
    Besides a big “Thank You” for the recipe, I wanted to ask if you recommend storing the loaf whole or slicing it all before storing it.

  • ErinK
    February 26, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    hey there!
    I am accidently visit your sites and wow!
    It is the perfect place that I was looking for!
    cuz these days I am trying to have a gluten-free diet! and really worried about the recipies! and you have all!
    I am in Korea but I think I’ll visit here everyday!

    • February 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      Hi, ErinK,
      Welcome! I hope you are able to find the gluten-free products you need. :)

  • Linda
    February 25, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    This looked so yummy I had to try it today.

    Well, I had very wet dough (it was shaggy before the 5 minute mix) – maybe my roux wasn’t quite cooked enough?
    So after I had added 5 or 6 Tbsp of flour and it was almost shaggy I scooped the dough into 6 piles and very gently pressed each flat after moving on top of a floured section and sprinkling with flour.
    My very soft loaf is currently hopefully rising…

  • February 24, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    here’s a link to the photo of my bread still cooling!

  • February 24, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I have my bread in the oven–actually I just took it out of the pan and put it back in the oven just a moment ago. it looks awesome!

    I already know that the dough tastes yummy because I had a small chunk of the dough that wouldn’t fit in my 8.5×4.5 USA Pans. The bread is browning wonderfully!

    So, I cut my flattened disk into 4 pieces let them raise while my little baby deep fryer heated to 350 degrees. Then I fried them up and topped with a small amount of maple frosting.

    I can hardly wait to get my next batch of dough made (Looks like Sunday after my Hubby’s birthday party–gotta get the chocolate Whoopie Pies made on Saturday–YUM!!!

    Oh My goodness! Light, Fluffy, Soft fried doughnuts.

  • February 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    I LOVE bread!!!! LOVE IT!!..oh, and with fresh, butter? Yummy, yummy!!! I’m going to bookmark this recipe :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  • February 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Cannot WAIT to try!
    Just so you know…my pastry instructor in culinary school referred to dough being shaggy all. the. time! What does that BOOK editor know anyway?!
    P.S. – Your GF blog is my favorite of all!

    • February 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      Hi, Jen,
      Ha! So glad to know that about your pastry instructor! In fairness, it was a magazine editor (my book editor is a dream), and she doesn’t even cook! What-does-she-know indeed. Thanks, Jen. So glad you enjoy the blog. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kristi
    February 23, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    You never cease to amaze me. This is a beaut! I know this seems weird but I really want to smell that bread, like now!

    I am breaking down and getting the Brod and Taylor. I also want the pullman and the muffin pan from USA Pans.

    I hope my husband will still respect YOU in the morning (when the bill comes). I tell him that you are bossy and make me buy things. ;-)


    • February 23, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      Kristi, I would not dispute even one thing you said. I am bossy, and I do make you buy things. And I take full responsibility for it.
      And it doesn’t sound weird to me at all that you want to smell that bread. It smells amazing. Unlike any other bread I’ve made before. It’s really different.
      xoxo Nik

  • Dotty x
    February 23, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    Yum! Looks delicious, will have to try this

  • Mattison Mania
    February 23, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Urgent Help, Please!

    I am in the middle of making this wonderful looking bread right now as we speak. I have a dilemma tho. The recipe says 4tsp or 48g of Sugar. I’m noticing 48g is more like 4 Tablespoons. Am I on the right track, or should it be closer to the teaspoon range?

    Thanks bunches!!

    • February 23, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      Hi, Mattison,
      So sorry! It was a typo. It should read 4 tablespoons, not teaspoons. I have made the change in the recipe.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Mattison Mania
        February 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        You truly are a fantastic human being! We are truly spoiled with such a talented soul as yourself. Not only great recipes, but prompt responses. You really shouldn’t be so kind … next time ;-) … this is time is fabulous!

        A million thanks!

      • February 23, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        You’re very welcome, Mattison. Sorry about the typo! It happens sometimes, despite my best intentions. :) Enjoy the bread.
        xoxo Nicole

      • JoAnn C
        February 23, 2012 at 3:25 PM

        I’m baking this bread tomorrow after I remove the snow from the driveway. I have the flour problem, (no more gritty bread), settled and am back in business, (so to speak), baking again. I really miss soft bread.

        Unrelated to this recipe, two thumbs up to you for the Pound Cake recipe from your book. It is the best I’ve ever made. Thanks.

        P.S. I love to read cookbooks and have at least 30-40, some from when my parents got married 56 years ago. So am I a food dork too? Is there some sort of secret handshake?

      • February 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM

        Hi, JoAnn,
        Glad you’re back in the saddle. So glad you liked the pound cake! It takes a lot of tender-loving care, but it’s worth it. You are clearly a Food Dork. Check your wallet, there must be a card in there somewhere. :)
        xoxo Nicole

  • Emma
    February 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Hi Nicole, this bread looks great! I’ve been trying many different bread recipes lately and I think this one might be a winner. I was looking at the original recipe that you adapted yours from and wondering if you tried rolling the dough into cylinders at all? If so, what were your results like?

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      Hi, Emma,
      Feel free to experiment. What I did is what you see!
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 23, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    I might be baking bread today in my new USA pullman pan….

    • February 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Did you really buy a USA Pans pullman? Why does that thrill me so? I really need a new hobby.
      xoxo Nicole

      • February 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        I did. And I bought muffin pans and I’m about to buy a couple of loaf pans. I cannot believe the difference between them and the other guy (think a midwest city). Nothing compares. I had no idea, seriously. Not only does it have that magical nothing sticks to it,but it isn’t dark which helps you control the over-brown over-done GF thingy that happens with those other pans…

  • Elyse
    February 23, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Is this your new favorite GF bread? I keep meaning to try to make one, but want to make the best one first.

    • February 23, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Hi, Elyse,
      I couldn’t possibly choose among my bread recipes. They’re all my little recipe children. You’ll have to just jump in.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anonymous
    February 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Do you think it would work with a hand mixer? Silly question I know, most dough is too hard to mix with a hand mixer, but just curious. Thanks so much for all your work!!

    • February 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Hi, there,
      Nope. A hand mixer will burn out, and won’t work on this sort of dough anyhow. Just do it by hand, and put a lot of elbow grease into it!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Linda Stoddard
    February 23, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    This looks wonderful!. Interesting reference to ‘Japanese water roux.’ I first learned about this method in a book by Chinese writer Yvonne Chen (“65 Degrees”) in which she coined this dough mixture as ‘tang zhong.’ In any case, it’s a wonderful method of keeping bread soft. I never thought I’d miss that Wonder Bready softness, but here it is….:-)

    • February 23, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Hi, Linda!
      65 Degrees, huh? That sounds kind of familiar. I might have to investigate a bit further… :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    February 23, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    ps…you’re not a DORK….passionate…..and maybe a little shaggy…..but definately NOT a dork. :)

    • February 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      You actually made me laugh out loud, Pam! I am shaggy! ;)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Pamela G
        February 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        in the best way possible, of course! :-D

      • February 23, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        Of course, Pam. :)
        xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    February 23, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Ok, Nicole….I gave in. I just purchased the proofer. No more lopsided bread for me. I love making bread, but the kitchen is too chilly here in WNY. Everything rises lopsided!
    Besides…when I grow up I wanna be MORE like you!

    • February 23, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      You did, Pam?! I can’t believe it! I know it’s expensive, but you know I wouldn’t recommend it so highly if it weren’t worth it. Think of all the bread you’ll make without having to worry about its rising perfectly. I can’t wait until you see! Congratulations!
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 23, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    You can come to my parties! If I had parties. =)

    • February 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Thanks, Mandy! I accept. I’ll bring the bread. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

Back to Top

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.