Milk bread is the perfect sandwich bread: soft, fluffy, and easy to slice. It has a subtle yeast flavor that’s worlds better than anything at the store! It’s also amazing toasted with butter and jam.
I’ve been on a toast kick recently. There’s something so cozy (especially during winter), about a slice of toast with warm butter and jam alongside tea, or simply on its own.
I don’t usually have time to make homemade sandwich bread, and there’s nothing wrong with buying it from the store. It’s fine. However, store bread just doesn’t have much flavor, and the flavor it does have is kind of processed (because it’s… processed).
At the end of the day, you can’t beat homemade bread. If you’ve never made it, it’s not actually difficult, especially if you have a stand mixer (you don’t need one, but it helps). It takes some time, but it’s mostly inactive time waiting for the dough to rise.
While my waistline is adamant that I don’t bake bread from scratch on a regular basis, I like treating myself on occasion simply for the incredible, yeasty flavor and amazing texture.
Milk bread is so good, whether I’m enjoying it on its own, as toast, or as sandwich bread. It’s dense and substantial enough for easy slicing and sandwich building, but it’s also soft and tender; exactly what I crave in homemade white bread.
How to Make Milk Bread
Step 1: Prepare The Dough, Place in Oiled Bowl
(Note: I’m skipping a few photos along the way to keep this from becoming an extra long scroll. I’m focusing on what the rise of the dough should look like.)
Whisk the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl (I recommend using a stand mixer if you have one, unless you prefer the kneading workout), reserving some of the all-purpose flour. You probably won’t need all of the flour; I didn’t.
Attach the dough hook and, with the mixer running, slowly add the wet ingredients followed by just enough of the remaining flour to bring the dough together and keep it from being too sticky. Knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let double in size for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Recipe Tip: If I’m not going to need my oven, I like to set the bowl in there with a smaller bowl of boiling water to create a warm, steamy environment. Yeast likes this.
Step 2: Deflate and Chill
Gently deflate the dough, kneading it for a moment, and once again form into a ball (it will look similar to the first picture). Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to build the flavor.
Step 3: Shape Into a Loaf
Take your time shaping the dough so it looks even. It doesn’t need to completely fill the bottom of the pan, but I’ve found that if one side is higher than the other, for example, that’s how it will bake. Aim for a uniform loaf shape.
Cover loosely and let the dough once again double in size for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Patience!
Recipe Tip: You can speed up the rises with fast-acting yeast, but this can take away from the final flavor you get with a slow rise.
Step 4: Brush With Cream, Then Bake
You can let it rise higher than I have here, but as long as it’s starting to poke over the top of the pan, it’s good to go. You can also use melted butter on top, but I figure it’s milk bread, so cream is the way to go.
Step 5: Cool Before Slicing
This part is hard; I’m not gonna lie. You’re going to want to eat that warm bread right out of the oven! Your kitchen will smell amazing. However, you really want to let the bread cool completely so the steam doesn’t escape. That steam = moisture in the bread.
More Bread Recipes
If you love this recipe, be sure to check out my Buttery Sourdough Buns, Easy English Muffins, and Banana Bread.
You can also see my full archive of bread recipes here!
- 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 9 ounces bread flour (2 cups using Spoon & Level Method)
- 6 3/4 to 9 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/2 to 2 cups using Spoon & Level Method)
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk warm (105-115 degrees F)
- 2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter melted
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon Heavy cream or milk, for brushing
- Add yeast, sugar, salt, bread flour, and 6 3/4 ounces (or 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour to the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking together. With the machine running on medium-low or low speed, slowly add the milk, butter and egg. Gradually add in as much of the remaining all-purpose flour as needed until the dough is moist but not sticky. (Note: I only need around 1/2 of the remaining flour).
- Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (30 to 45 minutes with fast-acting instant yeast).
- Punch down, knead briefly, refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form into loaf, place in greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (30 to 45 minutes with fast-acting instant yeast).
- Preheat oven to 375 F, brush top of loaf with cream, bake for 33-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool completely on a wire rack (don’t slice first or steam escaping will pull moisture from bread).
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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Can a bread machine be used?
Jennifer Farley says
I don’t see why not, but I don’t use bread machines so I wouldn’t be able to help you convert the recipe, unfortunately. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!
Molly Pisula says
This looks sooo good! I wish I had my stand mixer here. :( Then again, I suppose I can suffer through with French bakery breads for now. :)
I’m so so excited to make this fluffy milk bread! Thanks for the detailed recipe and instructions!
Nellie Tracy says
YUM! This bread recipe is one of my most favorites! Absolutely delicious.
Easiest bread recipe ever! And as described, all of the above!
Hi so it’s 2020 and the whole panic buying has lead to a flour shortage everywhere. Can I use only AP flour for this recipe? Will it make a substantial difference to not have bread flour?
Jennifer Farley says
You can! You can also make bread flour using AP flour. I have a tutorial here!
Nicole K. says
I’m excited to try this..However I don’t keep milk on hand. Can I use heavy cream in the recipe instead? Will I need to adjust anything, if so..?
Jennifer Farley says
That should work! The bread will be richer, but I’d follow the recipe as written :)