Milk loaf is a traditional English food made from milk, bread crumbs, and sometimes other ingredients such as spices or dried fruit. It has a firm, dense texture and is often served sliced and fried.
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As its name suggests, milk loaf does indeed contain milk, which lends to its creamy, buttery flavor. This white, fluffy bread has a texture that's often described as feathery, due to its tiny air bubbles and soft, springy feel. It is versatile, the dough being used from everything from a substitute for sandwich bread to crowd pleasing knots and pull-apart bread.
Its unsurpassed buttery flavor and fluffy texture makes it a must-have for bread lovers everywhere and considered far superior to ordinary sandwich bread.
Because of its makeup, milk loaf stays fresh and moist longer than standard sandwich bread. Brought to the United States by Japanese emigrants in the late 1990s, milk loaf has taken off in popularity, enjoyed not only by Americans, but people throughout the globe.
Milk loaf is also known as milk bread, and the two terms will be used interchangeably throughout the article.
The History of Milk Loaf
Milk bread is a surprisingly recent recipe. According to legend, it was first developed in 20th century Japan by a British baker named Robert Clarke. While living in Japan, Clarke opened Yokohama Bakery in 1862. Utilizing a warm Chinese paste made from water and flour, Clarke baked the first milk loaf.
However, some scholars believe the milk loaf has been around far longer, especially given the simplicity of its recipe. Also known as shokupan, which translates to "food bread" in Japanese, few records exist about the amazing bread that would give scholars and culinary enthusiasts alike a better idea about how long milk bread has been around.
Despite Japan having bakeries, most Japanese households weren't equipped with ovens during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bread didn't become a household staple until the 1940s, when wartime rations made rice scarce, and flour and yeast were in higher supply.
It wasn't until the 1990s when milk bread reached the United States, with experts believing the birth of Japanese grocery stores, like Mitsuna, being primarily responsible for carrying milk bread and introducing it to the American shopper. Because of its ability to stay fresh longer, it could be packaged and mass produced easily.
Since its inception, milk loaf has been and still is a staple in Asian bakeries and supermarkets and is a must-have for customers around the world. Several Japanese restaurants in the United States tout the delicious bread, and culinary websites abound with recipes and praise for this fluffy, buttery bread.
Interestingly enough, panko bread crumbs - another widely-used Japanese culinary invention - are developed from the heels of milk loaves.
Ingredients in Milk Loaf
Despite its luxurious taste and texture, milk bread is surprisingly easy to make with ingredients that you likely have in your kitchen.
The amount of each ingredient may differ depending on the recipe, but milk bread has the following ingredients:
- Bread flour
- Whole milk (warm)
- Active dry yeast
- Butter (unsalted)
Milk Loaf Nutritional Information
Because of the amount of butter, milk bread is higher in fat than most other breads. It has a comparatively high sugar content as well, which can be remedied by cutting the amount of sugar in the recipe in half. This is also a great way to alter the taste if you prefer your milk loaf less sweet.
On the plus side, milk bread is rich in calcium and protein, with four slices generally containing the same amount of calcium than a glass of milk.
How to Make Milk Loaf
To make the tangzhong:
In a medium saucepan, mix flour, water, and milk and bring to a boil.
To make the dough:
Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt and mix until combined. Then add egg, milk, and tangzhong. Knead for 5 minutes before adding butter. Let rise 30 - 40 minutes in a well-buttered pan before baking.
Milk loaves, to imitate standard sandwich breads, are typically baked in a standard bread pan. But the dough is versatile and can be baked in various shapes, such as in a bread pan, in knots, as rolls, and more.
Milk Loaf Recipes
With its versatile nature, milk bread can be shaped in various ways. You can make pull-aparts in a pie pan. Knots and twists can be made by shaping the bread in specific ways.
While milk bread can be enjoyed by simply adding butter or jam, you can use slices as a substitute for sandwich bread
Milk Loaf FAQ's
Milk loaf is thought to have originated in the medieval period, although the exact origins are unclear. It was likely created as a way to use up old bread that had gone stale, as well as to add some nutrition to the diet.
The traditional ingredients in milk loaf are milk, bread crumbs, and sometimes other ingredients such as spices or dried fruit.
To make milk loaf, milk and bread crumbs are combined and mixed together until the desired consistency is achieved. Sometimes other ingredients such as spices or dried fruit are added to the mixture. The milk loaf is then formed into a loaf shape and cooked in an oven or over a fire.
Milk loaf has a firm, dense texture and is often sliced and fried. It can have a slightly sweet taste due to the milk, but this will vary depending on what other ingredients are added to the recipe.
Milk loaf is generally considered to be a healthy food since it is made from milk and bread. However, depending on the recipe, it may also contain other ingredients such as fats or sugars which can impact its nutritional value.
There are many different milk loaf recipes available online and in cookbooks. Some popular milk loaf recipes include adding spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or dried fruits such as raisins or currants.
Milk loaf is typically served sliced and fried, but it can also be eaten cold or reheated. It can be served plain or with a variety of toppings such as butter, jam, or syrup.
There are many milk loaf variations, depending on the ingredients used in the recipe. Some variations include adding spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or dried fruits such as raisins or currants.
Yes, milk loaf can be frozen. It is best to slice the milk loaf before freezing to make it easier to reheat and serve later.
Milk loaf will last for several days when stored in a cool, dry place. If frozen, milk loaf will last for several months.
The exact origins of milk loaf are unclear, but it is thought to have originated in the medieval period. It was likely created as a way to use up old bread that had gone stale, as well as to add some nutrition to the diet.
It is thought that milk loaf got its name because milk was one of the main ingredients in the original recipes.
There are many milk loaf substitutes available, depending on your preferences. Some milk loaf substitutes include tofu, soy milk, or rice milk.
Yes, milk loaf can be made vegan by substituting the milk and other dairy products for vegan alternatives such as tofu, soy milk, or rice milk.
Yes, milk loaf can be made gluten-free by substituting the bread crumbs for gluten-free options such as rice flour or quinoa flakes.
No, milk loaf is not dairy-free since milk is one of the main ingredients. However, there are many milk loaf substitutes available that are dairy-free.
A milk loaf diet is a dietary regimen that includes milk loaf as a main food source. This type of diet may be used for weight loss or other health purposes.
The number of calories in milk loaf will vary depending on the recipe. However, milk loaf is generally considered to be a high-calorie food due to the milk and other ingredients.
There are many milk loaf brands available, depending on your location. Some popular milk loaf brands include "Kraft" and "Land O'Lakes".