Should I start by saying that chocolate marble Japanese milk bread is my new favourite thing in the world or by saying that my husband and I are the biggest Japanophiles you will ever meet? Both statements are true. During our first trip to Japan, we found so many bakeries with French-style products. Only that in Japan, these products were a lot fluffier and dare I say, tastier. I mean that sorted out breakfast every single morning: delicious chocolate Japanese milk bread, marble cakes and all sort of goodies, served with a strong matcha tea on the side. Perfection in a nutshell.
I never thought I could make anything like that at home, but it turns out, with a little patience you can even make a vegan version of the chocolate marble Japanese milk bread. You might know it by the name of Hokkaido milk bread, which is the fluffiest bread you will ever taste. Technically this is the same recipe, only that it doesn't contain the world-famed Hokkaido milk, but plant-based oat milk which we guarantee you, it's better!
Chocolate Marble Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread
As I just mentioned, this recipe normally calls for Hokkaido milk. Now the reason why Hokkaido milk is believed to be so delicious is because the conditions in which the cows are being kept. Ample space, fresh air, lots of movement. Happy cows produce happy milk...only that we don't believe it. Cow milk is reserved for baby cows. So while we are happy Hokkaido cows live a happier life, we still wanted to show that oat milk is a perfect replacement for this recipe and yields an even better, tastier version to the original.
So buckle up, because this Japanese milk bread is going to be an adventure in the kitchen. Oh, and I promise that by the end, your kitchen will smell like a fantastic French bakery. Delicious.
Before we get started I want to tell you that making Japanese milk bread is relatively easy but it requires some patience. It will take a few hours to do everything and you will require ample space in the kitchen. Without further ado, let's get started and making the most insane chocolate marble Japanese milk bread you'll ever taste.
How to make Chocolate Marble Japanese Milk Bread
The recipe is divided into three different categories: Japanese Chocolate Dough, Tangzhong and Japanese Milk Dough. There is an assembly at the end, which, is actually easier than it looks at first glance. So let's do the Japanese milk bread, step by step.
The Japanese Chocolate Dough
You will need chocolate, vegan butter, bread flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, oat milk, caster sugar and aquafaba.
This step will take around 15 minutes in total.
Melt the chocolate (Bain-marie style). Break chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl. Sit over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie) and allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally.
In a different bowl, melt the butter.
Using a relatively large non-stick saucepan, mix the milk, sugar and flour. Mix well to ensure no lumps remain. Add the melted chocolate, vegan butter and aquafaba. Put the saucepan on the stove, on low heat and whisk the mixture until it thickens. The result should be a soft dough.
Put the Japanese chocolate dough over a sheet of cling film and wrap it up. Set aside and allow it to cool to room temperature. You can also cool it in the fridge if you are in a rush. I did it both ways and it works without an issue.
When the Japanese chocolate dough is ready, you will need to roll it into an 18 cm x 18 cm square. Now, I tried to just roll it on my work surface and it was a mess. The dough is too sticky and I didn't want to add more flour to it as it will make the taste too dense and floury. So I came up with a solution: roll it over a baking paper and under a cling film.
Place the chocolate dough over a non-stick baking paper. Place the cling film over it, and start rolling using a rolling pin. The cling film allows the rolling pin to move up and down the chocolate down without it sticking to the rolling pin.
Super easy! It actually works and since the chocolate dough is already on the baking paper you don't want to worry about moving it around and potentially breaking it. Place it in the fridge until you will need it next.
TangZhong is a Japanese technique that involves cooking a mixture of flour and water to create a slurry that will be later added to the bread dough. It is also called a water roux. This mixture will allow the bakes to become soft and fluffy and will keep for longer.
Whisk together the bread flour and the oat milk in a saucepan, making sure no lumps remain. Add the mixture over low heat and whisk continuously until it thickens. You should have a pudding-like texture. Remove from fire and transfer to a bowl.
As a tip, you should cover it with a little cling film to avoid the formation of a crust. The TangZhong will need around 10-15 minutes to cool down. As you will see, the TangZhong will become quite thick.
Japanese Milk Dough
Mix together the lukewarm oat milk and one tablespoon of sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the yeast to the bowl. Set aside for around 10 minutes until it becomes frothy. The reason why we do this step is to confirm the yeast is still alive. Dry instant yeast is partially dehydrated and formed into granules. These are dormant yeast cells. When we rehydrate it and feed it with sugar, it confirms that the yeast is still alive.
Mix together the bread flour, sugar and tsp salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the hook attachment. Add the tangzhong, the yeast mixture and the aquafaba. Mix for around 10-15 minutes. The result should be a soft and sticky dough. The dough should not be wet. If it feels wet, you should add a tad bit of flour and mix again.
I tried it kneading it without a standing mixer. I found it too sticky to handle, although after around 25 minutes of kneading it got to the right consistency. But I would say that you need a standing mixer to make this bread. Much easier, much better result.
Add the vegan butter and continue mixing for another 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured bowl, cover and set aside to proof for around 1-2 hours. The dough should double in size.
Knockback the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for around a minute or so. When it's ready, roll the dough to a square of around 36 cm with 36 cm.
Prepare a round or oval baking tray. Lightly grease it with a little vegan butter and dust it with flour.
Place the chocolate dough in the middle of the Japanese milk dough. To do this, I positioned the baking paper with the Japanese chocolate dough on it, face down, over the milk dough. I then gently removed the baking paper from the Japanese chocolate dough and voila: no mess, nothing broke.
You should have the small 18 cm x 18 cm chocolate dough right in the middle of the 36 cm x 36 cm Japanese milk dough. Wrap the chocolate dough in the Japanese milk dough, one fold at the time. You should not be able to see the chocolate dough anymore, it should be fully enveloped in the Japanese milk dough.
Using your rolling pin, roll the dough until doubled in size. Fold the dough once, then roll again. Repeat this a couple of times. Finally, roll the dough into a large rectangle (as large as you can manage).
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the dough into 9 vertical long strips. Then, cut them in half evenly, horizontally. You should now have 18 strips of dough.
Using your fingers, start rolling up each strip of dough from one end, similar to a swiss roll. Roll as tightly as you can. Place each roll in the baking tray. Please note they will double in size again, so don't pack them too highly together. They should touch but have some space to grow.
Allow to proof for around 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F.
Bake in the centre of the oven for around 35 minutes. After 20 minutes, check on the Japanese milky bread. If you see that the top becomes too coloured already, cover with aluminium foil and continue baking until the 35 minutes are up.
Let it cool in the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling wrap before eating the rolls. Enjoy!
I know this is a lengthy recipe which requires a lot of steps but, the result is too good to pass. In fact, once you start making the Japanese milk bread you will notice that it's actually easy, I just wanted to explain every single step in detail to make it easier for you. I hope you found the extra tips and tricks useful. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.
Recipe loosely adapted from Baking into the Ether. by Victoria Bakes.