Vegan Hokkaido milk bread - a vegan version of the softest, fluffiest bread ever! This eggless and dairy free milk bread has a cloud-like texture and is perfect for breakfast and snacking.
Start by making the tangzhong; whisk together the 30g bread flour and 150ml milk in a pan until no lumps remain.
Place the pan over a medium/low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency (think wallpaper paste...). Scrape it into a small bowl, cover with baking parchment directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once the tangzhong has cooled (it will become much thicker as it cools, don't worry.), mix together the yeast with the other 150ml of the (lukewarm) soy milk and the 5g sugar. Set it aside for about 10 minutes until it goes foamy.
Mix together the 400g bread flour, 55g sugar and tsp salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cooled tangzhong, the yeast mixture and the aquafaba and mix until it forms a rough dough.
Set the mixer to a medium speed and leave it to knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is stretchy. It should be soft and sticky but if it seems too wet you can add in a little extra flour, a tablespoon at a time.
Next, add the softened vegan butter and knead for a further 5-10 minutes until it is well incorporated and the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer feels greasy.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge to rise overnight (or in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1-2 hours).
The following day (or once the dough has doubled in size at room temperature), knock back the dough and give it a brief 30 second knead to knock out the air bubbles.
Divide it into 3 or 4 even pieces and roll each one into a ball. (Use 4 pieces for a loaf as pictured, with 4 'humps', or 3 for a loaf with 3 'humps'). Line an approx 11.5 x 21.5 cm / 4.5 x 8.5 inch loaf tin with baking parchment.
Roll each ball out into a long oval, fold one third of the oval over the middle (from the side, not the top), then the other third over the top to form a long, narrow packet.
Roll over the seam to flatten it, then roll it up tightly from one end to make a fat sausage. Repeat with the other balls of dough then arrange them in the loaf tin, seam side down.
Loosely cover and leave to rise until at least doubled in size, it should rise above the top of the tin. This can take 1-2 hours (mine took 1 1/2). If you press the dough gently with a finger the indentation should spring back slowly but remain visible. If it springs back quickly it needs to prove for a little longer.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Mix together the maple syrup and water in a small bowl.
Once the loaf has risen, gently brush the top with the maple syrup mixture, making sure that none drips down the sides as that can make the bread stick to the tin. If you don't want a sweet glaze then you can brush it with aquafaba instead.
Place the loaf in the preheated oven and bake for 30-50 minutes, until a probe thermometer reaches 94°C/201°F when poked into the middle of the loaf. You may need to cover the top loosely with tin foil part way through baking if it starts to colour too much.
If you want the loaf to have a shinier crust, brush it with some more of the maple syrup water halfway through baking.
Once the bread is baked, remove it from the oven and brush with some more of the glaze. Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes then lift it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container.
For the best results make sure that you follow the recipe closely. As always, I highly recommend using the gram measurements (with a digital scale), rather than the cup conversions. Cup measurements are simply not accurate enough for baking and I cannot guarantee the best results if you use them.