This is homemade bread at its finest! Condensed Milk Bread, or sweet milk bread, is made with an incredibly soft dough making for the fluffiest bread.
While condensed milk is a main ingredient in this recipe, it provides the bread with a slightly sweet flavor without making it overly sweet. You're going to love this easy, super fluffy bread recipe!
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Why you'll love this sweet milk bread recipe
There are so many reasons why you'll love this fluffy condensed milk bread recipe!
- It's an easy recipe even for home bakers new to bread baking
- This bread takes about 3 ½ hours to make, start to finish. Mix up the ingredients in the afternoon and you'll have warm, fresh bread by dinner time
- This dough is sweet, but not overly sweet, and can even be used to make cinnamon rolls, milk bread rolls, dinner rolls or in place of your regular white bread with breakfast
Ingredients & substitutions
The dough for this sweet milk bread recipe is enriched, meaning it has eggs, milk and butter in it. These ingredients add richness and flavor to this take on Japanese milk bread, also known as hokkaido milk bread. Here's what you'll need:
- Warm milk: I recommend using whole milk. Non dairy milk may also be used. Warm the milk to approximately 80º-90ºF. This help activate the yeast without killing it. If the milk is too warm or hot, it'll kill the yeast
- Instant yeast: be sure your yeast is fresh and not expired. If it's expired or old, it may not activate to allow for a proper dough rise. Active dry yeast may be substituted in equal amounts. If using active dry yeast, in step 1 of the recipe, combine the yeast with the warm milk and give it a stir. Allow that to sit for 10 minutes until foamy. This indicates the yeast is activated and ready to be used. Continue making the recipe as directed
- Sweetened condensed milk: this is what helps yield a sweet bread. Condensed milk can typically be found in the baking aisle of your grocery store
- Egg: use a large egg. For best results, be sure to remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking to allow it to reach room temperature. Cold ingredients don't combine well with other ingredients
- Bread flour: The main difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is the amount of protein. Bread flour has a higher protein content, allowing the bread dough to develop more gluten, which is what gives bread it's structure and chew. All-purpose flour can be substituted for bread flour here if needed, although it's not recommended. You'll need 3 ¼ cups of flour for this recipe plus up t0 ¼ cup extra flour should the dough need it
- Salt: I'd recommend fine sea salt
- Softened butter: unsalted butter is preferred since the dough has half a teaspoon salt in it already
To get the shiny, golden brown top, an egg wash is brushed on the dough before baking. For the egg wash you'll need:
- Egg: one large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
- Milk: whatever milk you used for the dough can be used for the egg wash as well
How to make Condensed Milk Bread
Even if you've never made homemade bread before, this is a relatively easy recipe to start with. Like most bread recipes with yeast, this dough requires time for rising. The rises are important steps to gluten development which gives us the softest bread with a fluffy inside.
Step 1: To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir to combine. Add the condensed milk and egg followed by the rest of the dry ingredients (flour and salt).
Step 2: Using the dough hook, mix the ingredients on low speed until they start to come together. Increase speed to medium-low. Add the butter, a little at a time. Continue kneading the dough until the butter pieces are no longer visible. The dough will be slightly sticky and will likely stick to the bottom of the bowl, but should not stick to the sides. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl, continue kneading for a bit longer. You can add more flour, up to ¼ cup total, 1 tablespoon at a time, being careful not to add too much flour and only adding if needed. To check the dough is fully kneaded, perform the windowpane test*.
Step 3: Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil on your hands. This helps prevent the dough from sticking to them. With lightly oiled hands, remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I like to pull the sides of the dough and gather them at the bottom, pinching to seal. This creates tension on the top of the dough and smoothes it out. Place the dough ball in a large bowl that’s been lightly greased with vegetable oil with the seam side down. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise to rise in a warm place (~75-80ºF) for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size
Step 4: Meanwhile, line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang, and set aside. If making rolls, line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. After the dough has risen, gently punch it down and turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions, roughly the same size. If making rolls, divide the dough into 12 equally sized pieces, about 3 ounces each. Shape each of the dough portions into a tight ball
Step 5: Place the pieces of dough, seam side down, next to each other in the pan. They will be touching. For rolls, place in 4 rows of 3. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow for a second rise of the dough, until the top of dough is level with the rim of the pan, about 30-40 minutes
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and milk in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the dough gently with egg wash
Step 7: Bake in the preheated oven 22-25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are a deep golden brown. For rolls, bake 18-20 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 190ºF. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Lift the bread out using the parchment paper overhang and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, at least one hour.
- To know when your dough has been kneaded enough, check to make sure the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl. You can also perform the windowpane test. To perform the windowpane test, pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of dough. I use my bench scraper to cut off a piece. Then, gently stretch the dough out, turning it slightly in your hands as you do, so you’re stretching it into a circle. The dough should remain intact and become translucent, allowing light to shine through it (hence the term, windowpane test) without breaking. If the dough breaks, knead it for a couple of more minutes and perform the test again.
- Proofing time may vary depending on the temperature of your ingredients and the temperature of your kitchen. The best way to know if your bread has fully proofed is to look at it. It should be doubled in size. I generally like to use a glass bowl so I can see where the bread starts compared to where it finished rising. You can mark the outside of the bowl with a piece of tape or use a rubberband wrapped around the bowl to gauge
- Another way to know if the bread has proofed fully is to poke it gently with your index finger. I like to dip my finger in flour first so it doesn't stick to the dough. If the dough bounces right back, it's not yet fully proofed. If the dough slowly rebounds to it's original shape, it's ready
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What is the difference between bread flour vs all purpose flour?
The main difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is the amount of protein. Bread flour has a higher protein content, allowing the bread dough to develop more gluten, which is what gives bread it's structure and chew.
Generally, all-purpose flour may be substituted for bread flour in bread recipes, however, the texture may not be the same as with bread flour
Why did my bread not rise?
Often this is due to the yeast. Check to make sure your yeast is fresh and not past its expiration date. Also make sure the milk is heated no higher than 110ºF. Higher temperatures will kill the yeast which will result in dense, unrisen bread.
Can I make this bread recipe gluten-free?
I have not tried making this recipe gluten- free. Gluten-free flours are different than non gluten-free varieties in terms of texture and how they absorb liquids. Hence, using them here will likely affect the texture of the dough and baked bread.
What can I do with leftover condensed milk?
You can make vietnamese iced coffee, one of my favorite treats! Or, you can try making Vietnamese Swiss Roll Cake, Sweet & Salty Cereal Bars or No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream!
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For the dough
- 1 cup whole milk slightly warm (80º - 90ºF)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 3 ¼ cups bread flour sifted or whisked to aerate
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir to combine. Add condensed milk and egg then flour and salt.
- Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until the ingredients start to come together. Increase speed to medium-low. Add the butter, a little at a time. Continue kneading the dough until the butter pieces are no longer visible. The dough will be slightly sticky and will likely stick to the bottom or the bowl, but should not stick to the sides. If it’s sticking to the sides, continue kneading for a bit longer. You can add more flour, up to ¼ cup, 1 tablespoons at a time, but do so sparingly and only if needed
- With lightly oiled hands so the dough doesn’t stick, shape the dough into a ball. Doesn’t have to be perfect. Place the dough in a bowl that’s been lightly greased with vegetable oil, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot (~75-80ºF) for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size
- Meanwhile, line a loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing some overhang, and set aside. If making rolls, line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. After the dough has risen, gently punch it down and turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 large pieces, roughly the same size. If making rolls, divide the dough into 12 equally sized pieces, about 3 ounces each. Shape each piece into a tight ball
- Place the pieces of dough, seam side down, next to each other in the pan. They will be touching. For rolls, place in 4 rows of 3 rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the top of dough is level with the rim of the pan, about 30-40 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Whisk together the egg and milk to make the egg wash. Gently brush the tops of the dough with egg wash
- Bake in the preheated oven 22-25 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are a deep golden brown. For rolls, bake 18-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out the loaf onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving
- *To perform the windowpane test, pinch of a golf-ball sized piece of dough. I use my bench scraper to cut off a piece. Then, gently stretch the dough out, turning it slightly in your hands as you do, so you’re stretching it into a circle. The dough should remain intact and become translucent, allowing light to shine through it (hence the term, windowpane test) without breaking. If the dough breaks, knead it for a couple of more minutes and perform the test again
- Store cooled bread at room temperature in a plastic bag, bread bag or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days
- Store in the fridge up to one week
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This looks so good! Can’t wait to try it.
You're going to love it! So soft and fluffy, like a pillow!
This was amazing! I tried this recipe just because I had some extra sweetened condensed milk, but it’s going in the favorites. These rolls were so incredibly fluffy and soft. I didn’t know I needed another roll recipe in my life, but it turns out I did. For all you metric bakers out there, I found 400 g of flour to be about right.
How fantastic, Ashley! This bread is a dream, I'm so glad you got to experience it, too! Thanks so much for baking and sharing ☺️
What size pan should I use if making rolls?
I've used a 9x13-inch rectangular pan when making this into rolls.
Could this recipe be adapted for a bread machine?
Potentially! I do not have a bread machine, so I cannot advise you there, unfortunately. If you try it, let me know!
Can I substitute evaporated milk for the sweetened condensed milk?
I haven't tried this, however, you should be able to make this substitution without impacting the texture of the bread. The flavor will be less sweet for sure, as evaporated milk is not sweetened like condensed milk is. If you try it, let me know!
This is the best bread ever! First time making bread and I’m ready to make so many more loafs. One question I have, though, is, can we add jalapeños or cheese and pepperoni or some other ingredient to make a flavored bread?
Woo hoo!! Welcome to the bread bakers club ☺️. So happy you chose this wonderful loaf as your first recipe! Yes, you can definitely add some mix-ins to the dough. I would recommend you add no more than 1 cup of mix-ins, ingredients like chopped jalapeños, shredded or cubed cheese, and pepperoni. Add it after you add the butter in Step 2. Good luck!
I’ve been experimenting with bread for the last two years, and this is by far the most delicious and one of the easier recipes to make. I shared it with a few friends, and they all asked for more! Now I double the recipe every time. I use one 14 oz can of condensed milk. It’s slightly less by 2 ounces, but it turns out just fine.
I make them in small rolls and bake them in a 9 inch round. The key is to roll them, so they are tight and round.
Fantastic to hear this, Stasia! Making them into rolls in a round pan is genius! Thanks so much for baking and sharing!!