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Yakatate!! Japan(ese Milk Bread)

Tired of eating crappy supermarket bread, Roommate S got into a bread baking mood lately and started making bread like mad. Even Roommate N got roped into this madness. Soon, frosh cooking turned onto frosh baking — from ciabatta to challa, we started abusing the public oven.
But something felt missing. Sure, all this European bread was tasty, but I missed the soft and fluffy asian bread of my childhood. The bread came in a rectangular loaf, with a soft brown crust and white insides. It had no name but was sold at every Asian bakery. After some poking around, I found a recipe for something that seemed correct — Japanese milk bread.
Japanese Milk Bread
I used this recipe for the bread because 1) it’s the only one that didn’t require milk poweder, which I didn’t have on hand and 2) it showed up pretty high on the Google search results. However, as I found out too late, this recipe is pretty terrible at giving step-by-step instructions and left out a lot of detail, which made bread making harder than it should have been…
(It was only after baking the bread did I realize that I probably
should have looked for the recipe in Chinese or Japanese instead.
Digging around on the internet for a while lead me to this blog. In fact, I’m pretty sure the recipe I used was ripped off from here. Next time…!)
I’m sure you can all read the recipe yourself, so I’ll spare you the rambling. However, here are some tips and tricks I wish I should’ve known while making the bread.
Protip: Knead the dough until it stops being sticky.****If you don’t, your bread will be very crumbly and not very chewy. Note that softness and chewiness has nothing to do with each other! **
Protip: Let the yeast come out of hibernation a little bit by putting it in a soup of lukewarm water and flour before you dump it into the dough. The recipe I used was kind of bad and didn’t tell me to do this, so my dough didn’t really rise much in the time it said it would. My bread probably would’ve turned out larger and fluffier if I had revived the yeast before mixing it. **

After that, I stuck the bread in the oven for long enough to watch one episode of anime (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi, or Sunday Without God, which is a terrible adaptation of a decent light novel series). The end result actually looked pretty great despite all the mistakes in the middle of making the dough…

It was pretty magical seeing the mess of a doughball turn into something that looks and smells edible!
Delicious. There is no doubt that this bread is delicious. It’s soft and moist with a hint of sweetness, and, before I knew it, I had eaten 1/4th of the whole loaf. Oops.
Besides that though, the texture was almost, but not quite, correct. It’s soft and moist, but, when pulling it apart, pieces did not cling to each other with fibers of bread. It’s also not as chewey as it was supposed to be. This is probably because I didn’t knead the dough enough…
The flavor was also almost, but not quite correct — it was too buttery for the bread. Next time, I’ll probably substitute some of the butter with vegetable oil or something.

Final Verdict: 9/10 Very tasty, but not what it was supposed to be.

Chengyi L