This easy vegan milk bread comes out soft, squishable and oh-so-fluffy! Think of it as an easier version of Chinese Milk Bread or Hokkaido Japanese milk bread. It’s a one-bowl bread recipe using a modified tangzhong technique to ensure a tender texture without adding any eggs or dairy. And because you don’t have to do anything on the stove-top, it’s easier than my original Vegan Milk Bread. The hardest part about this recipe is just waiting! But it will be worth the wait, trust me.
Video tutorial for Easy Vegan Milk Bread
Why make Easy Vegan Milk Bread?
Other than being extra fluffy and delicious, this vegan milk bread also stays fresh longer than other homemade breads. This one-bowl recipe uses a modified tangzhong technique that fully hydrates and cooks a portion of the flour before the rest of the dough ingredients are added. This is responsible for the high level of moisture that stays in the bread and keeps it tasting fresh for days.
Like many Chinese bakery breads, this easy milk bread is sweet and delicious enough to eat by the slice without anything added. You can also use the dough to make vegan versions of Chinese BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao), Pineapple Buns or make Korean Six Sided Cream Cheese Garlic Bread.
If you want a soft, squishable sandwich bread that is not so sweet, just reduce the sugar in the recipe. Instead of 1/4 cup for a batch with two loaves (or 16 buns), use only 2 tablespoons.
More Asian Bakery Things:
Before measuring flour, fluff it up with a fork or whisk. To measure, lightly scoop up the fluffed flour. Do not drag the cup through the flour which will cause it to compact. Do not tap on the measuring cup. Use a flat edge (like the back of a knife) to sweep away the excess flour, leveling it off. OR be even more accurate and measure the flour by weight.
With the above method, one US cup yielded 140 grams or 5 ounces fairly consistently. Because this is an “easy” recipe, I made it based on this volume measurement. If you’re a stickler for detail and/or use my previous recipes, keep in mind that this conversion (1 cup = 140g) only applies to this recipe. In most other recipes, 1 cup = 120g which is the customary conversion.
Most of my readers are in the US while I’m in Canada. Lucky for me, I have both types of measuring cups. If you measure by cups, this recipe will work no matter if you’re using US cups or Canadian (metric) cups. Just stick to one system or another. Or, again, just measure by weight.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I really recommend measuring by weight. I find my kitchen scale endlessly useful; the best $20 I’ve spent on a kitchen gadget. When you’re looking for a good kitchen scale, make sure it can measure to a single gram and has a capacity up to 5kg (11lbs). It should have a tare button so you can measure different ingredients in the same container. And ideally, it should have a button to easily switch from grams to ounces, especially if you tend to cook out of both US and international cookbooks/blogs.
How to Make Vegan Milk Bread Easily
While my original Vegan Milk Bread Recipe requires cooking up some tangzhong (water + flour) on the stove, this recipe combines a bit of all-purpose flour, cornstarch and just boiled hot water to achieve a similar effect. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch first. Then when your water has reached a boil, immediately add it to the bowl, and stir to form a sticky paste.
Add the yeast mixture
Use a spatula to gather this paste and push it up to the side of the bowl, leaving enough room at the bottom of the bowl to add warm soy milk (or plant-based milk of choice), a bit of sugar, and 1 envelope of yeast. This way, you can allow the yeast to bloom in the bowl at the right temperature (105-110°F, never hotter) without using a second bowl. The paste mixture will be too hot so don’t mix it into the yeast mixture just yet. Instead, wait 5 to 10 minutes for the yeast to bloom. The yeast mixture will look foamy and you will see some bubbly activity indicating the yeast is alive. The surface of the mixture will slightly dome as the volume increases due to the gas build-up.
If the yeast mixture does not bubble and does not foam up (or just barely), you may have dead or mostly dead yeast. Do not proceed, do not pass go, do not collect $200! Read my post on troubleshooting yeast. You might need to pour out the yeast mixture and start that part again. You can keep your tangzhong though.
After the yeast has bloomed, give the flour paste a temperature test with either your thermometer or a clean wet finger. It should be just a little warm or room temperature. When it is 110°F or cooler, you can mix it into the yeast mixture until totally dissolved. I used my stand mixer’s paddle attachment on starting at a low speed then ramping up to speed 6 for one minute.
Add the rest of the dough ingredients
Next, you can add the sugar. If you want a sweet Asian bakery-type milk bread, add the full amount of sugar: 1/4 cup. Continue to stir until it’s dissolved. Then (if you’re using a stand mixer), switch to your dough hook, add 5 cups (25 oz or 700 grams) of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and let your mixer run for about 6 minutes on speed 2. Every minute or so, pause the machine so you can scrape down the sides as needed. The dough will become well formed, though still quite sticky, without no dry bits. Afterwards, let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
If you’re working manually, just stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dough comes together before working it with your hands. It’s a sticky dough so when it just comes together, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This time will let the flour hydrate more fully and it will become easier to handle. Then, turn the dough out on to a clean work surface and dust with flour so you can knead it until it’s fairly smooth.
Manually kneading sticky dough
Kneading sticky dough like this one requires a little finesse. I find it easiest to knead sticky dough if I oil my hands first. You may need to add a bit of flour here or there but try your best to keep it to a minimum.
Lay your dough out on your lightly floured work surface. We’ll call the edge of the dough closest to you the bottom edge and the edge farthest from you, the top edge. Grab the top edge and pull away from you, stretch the dough gently. Fold this stretched edge over to the bottom.
At this point, you may be tempted to squish down the dough with the heel of your palms like you might if you were kneading a drier dough (such as pizza dough). But refrain from doing so because this will reveal more stickiness in the middle of the dough.
Instead, turn the dough 90° so that the folded edge is now on the right hand side. Then repeat by grabbing the new top edge, pulling it away from you, folding it over and turning once more.
The dough will stick some and you can mitigate this with a little dusting of flour here or there. You may also be tempted to rub your hands together to rub off the sticky dough. Don’t! Just wash your hands, oil them up again, add a light dusting of flour and continue. The dough will become easier to handle as you go.
Put on some music or a good podcast and continue this method of kneading until the dough is fairly smooth; about 15 to 20 minutes.
Incorporate Vegan Butter + First Rise
The final ingredient is room temperature vegan butter. Cut it up into small pieces, then add it to your stand mixer bowl. Run the machine with the dough hook at speed 2 for 5 minutes until the butter is well incorporated. You may have to stop it now and again to scrape down the sides. Since the butter contains more moisture, you may want to add 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour (20 – 40g) during this time if it isn’t coming together.
If you’re working manually, knead in the vegan butter by flattening the dough, sprinkling on little pieces of butter and folding the dough over. Continue until the vegan butter is fully incorporated. As before, add flour only if absolutely necessary.
When the vegan butter is fully incorporated, place the bowl with the dough in a warm, draft-free location and cover it with either a clean damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled or tripled in size. This can take 1 hour to 90 minutes depending on your room temperature. The warmer it is, the faster it will rise. Meanwhile, clean up your work surface.
Shape + Second Rise
Uncover the dough and replace your dough hook. Run your mixer at speed 2 for 2 minutes to knock out the air pockets. If working manually, knead the dough right in the bowl for a few minutes. Finish by shaping into a large ball.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour. If you’re making 2 loaves, line two loaf pans with parchment paper.
To form a rectangle loaf, press the dough flat into circular shape. Make it as wide as your loaf pan. The roll it up as tight as you can and pinch the edges to make it stick together. The roll will be a little longer than your pan now. Using the palms of your hands, wrap the ends under and place into your loaf pan with the pinched side down.
To form buns, divide the dough into 6 to 8 pieces depending on how large you want them. Shape them into nice looking balls by folding over the edges into the middle of one side and pinching. Place them pinched side down on a parchment lined baking sheet with plenty of room between each.
Brush the top of the loaf/buns with oil, then cover as before and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size; about 1 hour.
With about 15 minutes to go on your 1 hour timer, start to preheat your oven. Also prepare the syrup wash by combining 2 teaspoons corn syrup with 1 Tablespoon water and stirring until completely dissolved.
Bake the risen dough
When your oven is preheated to 350°F and your loaf or buns have fully risen, uncover your loaf/buns.
Place in the center of the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are deep golden brown. Buns require less time while large loaves will require more. Let cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!
You can double-check that your easy vegan milk bread is baked all the way through but tapping on the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow.
Before slicing your bread, let it cool completely. This allows excess moisture to escape so you don’t squish your bread as you’re trying to slice it. And you won’t burn your fingers. Like I did. ‘Cause I’m impatient.
How to Store Easy Vegan Milk Bread
After allowing the bread to cool completely, I keep the bread on the counter with a cover over top. You could also put it in air-tight containers or zip-top bags. The bread will stay moist and fresh for up to 5 days.
For longer-term storage, slice the bread as desired, then place in freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Try pushing out as much air as possible, zipping the top most of the way, then inserting a straw to suck up the last of the air before deftly closing it completely. Freeze for up to two months.
To thaw frozen easy vegan milk bread (and most other types of bread), remove just the number of slices or buns you want to thaw. You can bang the loaf on the counter to get the slices to separate. Place the slices or buns in a air tight bag and let thaw on the counter top. Or you can place the slices directly in your toaster to toast. For fast, un-toasted slices or buns, microwave for 10 seconds or less. Cook for just enough time to warm them to the middle but avoid overheating or they will turn chewy and dry.
What will you do with your vegan milk bread? Make loaves? Make buns? What kind of sandwiches will you make? I’d love to know. Please comment down below! If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate if you rated the recipe and let me know how it went. Cheers!
Printable recipe for Easy Vegan Milk Bread
Step 1 (flour paste):
- 1/2 cup flour (70g)
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch (16g)
- 1 cup hot water, just off the boil (235ml)
Step 2 (yeast mixture):
- 2 cups warm soy milk, 105-110°F (475ml, 40-43°C)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (instant or regular)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Step 3 (remaining ingredients):
- 1/2 cup sugar or less for less sweet bread, SEE NOTES (100g)
- 5 cups all purpose flour (700g) plus more for kneading + shaping
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup vegan butter, room temperature (60g)
Step 4 (syrup wash):
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon water (15ml)
Before measuring flour, fluff it up with a fork or whisk. To measure, lightly scoop up the fluffed flour. Do not drag the cup through the flour which will cause it to compact. Do not tap on the measuring cup. Use a flat edge (like the back of a knife) to sweep away the excess flour, leveling it off. OR be even more accurate and measure the flour by weight (step 1, 70g flour; step 3, 700g).
Note that variables such as weather/humidity affect how much flour is required so use the measurements as a guide and feel free to add a bit more. Keep the dough on the soft and sticky side.
Step 1 - Make the Flour Paste:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch and mix well. Taking care not to splash, add 1 cup of hot boiling water and stir vigorously until a smooth paste forms. Use a wet spatula to scrape the sticky mixture into a single clump and push it up on to one side of the bowl, high enough to clear two cups of liquid.
Step 2 - Bloom the Yeast:
To the large mixing bow, add 2 cups warm soy milk (105°-110°F), 1 envelope or 2 1/4 tsp of yeast plus 2 tsp of sugar and stir well. Let the mixture rest until foamy (about 5 to 10 minutes).
If it does not foam, you may wait longer. If it still does not foam, the yeast is dead and you should re-do this step with new yeast. SEE MY GUIDE TO TROUBLESHOOTING YEAST AND DOUGH.
Mix the flour paste into the yeast mixture until dissolved.
Step 3a - Make the Dough:
Add 1/2 cup sugar (or adjust amount as desired) and stir until dissolved. Add 5 cups flour and 2 tsp salt and stir until the dough starts to form.
For stand mixers: switch to your dough hook and run at speed 2 for 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides occasionally.
The dough should be well combined, with no dry bits and still sticky. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.
For working manually: Rest the dough for 10 minutes before starting to knead.
Oil or flour your hands well to prevent sticking. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface, dust well with flour and knead until the dough is fairly smooth; about 15 to 20 minutes. CLICK HERE FOR HOW TO KNEAD STICKY DOUGH.
Step 3b - Incorporate vegan butter + First Rise
Cut the vegan butter into little pieces and add to your stand mixer's bowl. Run at speed 2 for 5 minutes until the butter is well incorporated. If the dough has not come off the sides into a cohesive ball, feel free to add 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour and run a little longer. The dough should be smooth but still tacky at this point. Remove your dough hook and cover the bowl with a clean damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap
If you're working manually, knead in the vegan butter by flattening the dough, sprinkling on little pieces of butter and folding the dough over. Continue until the vegan butter is fully incorporated. You may add 2 - 4 tablespoons of flour during this time to help the process along. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with a clean damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
Place in a warm, draft-free location and let the dough rise until doubled or tripled in size; about 1 hour. Meanwhile, clean your work surface.
Step 4 - Shape and Second Rise
Uncover the dough and replace your dough hook. Run at speed 2 for 2 minutes to knock out the air pockets. If working manually, knead the dough right in the bowl for a few minutes. Finish by kneading it into a dough ball.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Line your loaf pans or baking sheets with parchment paper.
To form a sandwich loaves, divide the dough in half. Press the dough flat into rectangular shape. Make it as wide as your loaf pan. The roll it up as tight as you can and pinch the edges to make it stick together. The roll will be a little longer than your pan now. Using the palms of your hands, wrap the ends under and place into your loaf pan with the pinched side down. Repeat for a second loaf or divide further to make buns.
To form buns, divide the dough 18 for small buns, 12 for large dinner rolls,, or 6 for giant buns (like the ones I used to make Korean Six Sided Garlic Bread).
Shape them into nice looking balls by kneading over the edges into the middle of one side and pinching to keep the top tension. Place them pinched side down on a parchment lined baking sheet with plenty of room between each.
Make the syrup wash by combining 1 tablespoon corn syrup and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the top of the loaves/buns,then cover as before and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size; about 1 hour.
With about 15 minutes to go on your 1 hour timer, start to preheat your oven.
Step 5 - Bake
When your oven is preheated to 350°F and your loaf or buns have fully risen, uncover your loaf/buns and brush the top(s) with your prepared syrup wash.
Place in the center of the oven on the middle rack and bake.
For two loaves, bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tops are golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow when you tap them.
For buns, bake for 25 - 35 minutes; shorter time for smaller buns, longer time for larger buns. Remove from the oven when they are nicely browned on top and bottoms (but not burnt!)
SLICING + STORAGE
Let the bread cool completely to room temperature before slicing.
After the bread is completely cooled, it can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Remove air from the bag and freeze for longer storage; up to 2 months.
To thaw frozen bread, keep in a bag and let it thaw a room temperature. For speedier results, microwave buns for 10 seconds or less just until thawed in the center.
*Sugar (in step 3)
- 1/2 cup of sugar makes a sweet Chinese bakery-style bread
- 1/4 cup of sugar is suitable for less sweet but still noticeable sweetness
- Use 2 Tablespoons of sugar for regular white sandwich bread
This recipe uses all-purpose flour. Bread flour can also be used. Gluten-free flour blends will not work.
You will need 5 1/2 cups (770g) of flour for this recipe. You may also need an additional 2 - 4 tablespoons (20-40g) of flour after incorporating the vegan butter. This amount may vary since different vegan butters have different levels of hydration. Also, weather/humidity can affect how much flour you'll require.
Feel free to use extra flour to use as a barrier while shaping your buns/loaves. Try not to incorporate it into the dough; just use it to prevent sticking and brush off any excess before adding the syrup wash or baking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 105Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 313mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.