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Japanese Milk Bread (Gluten-Free Vegan)

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A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

I have Japanese Milk Bread in the oven as I am typing this post and it smells SO good! This simplified gluten-free, vegan and allergen-friendly version will show you that it’s possible to make soft bread even without wheat, eggs, dairy or added gums! And, don’t be fooled by the crackled looking top, once baked and sliced the inside crumb is very lovely—especially with your favourite spread! 

Ps. Don’t expect a super squishy loaf. It’s not like a white refined flour wheat-based Japanese milk bread. If you don’t follow a gluten-free lifestyle, then perhaps you could share the recipe with a friend that does. Thank you so much! 

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

This post may include affiliate links. Read full Privacy Policy.


If you’re not familiar with the Hokkaido Japanese method of adding Tangzhong, also known as roux (cooked flour and water) to help soften bread, watch the video below. It will show you each step of this gluten-free and vegan version. 

Keep in mind that the process for this bread requires no fancy mixers or kneading, as the final dough mixture has a batter-like consistency. 

Why Tangzhong

You might question the addition of Tangzhong in this recipe. Why including a mixture of cooked flour and water to a wheat-free, dairy-free and egg-free bread recipe would be beneficial?

The answer is simple. For this bread, it’s to improve the texture and structure of the dough that contains no gluten. The roux works like glue and helps to keep things together without having to add a long list of additional gluten-free ingredients.

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

What to expect

If you’re a person with allergies or food sensitivities and are looking for creative and safe ways to bake bread again, while playing around with different allergy-free bread baking methods, then you’re in the right place.

This recipe is free of gums (xanthan gum), eggs, dairy, nuts and gluten, which means that the texture will differ from its wheat-based counterpart.

What to expect; a soft inside, slightly crispy crust and crumbly texture when freshly made but very yummy nonetheless, and the leftovers are great toasted!

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

Not a burger bun

This Japanese Milk Bread is great for many reasons but using the bread as a burger bun is not ideal.

With gluten-free, vegan bread baking, especially with a dough containing mostly rice flour, as soon as you try to make a burger, it will crumble and fall apart. The moisture from lettuce, veggies or other fillings won’t help the bread’s structure.

The gluten-free, vegan version of this milk bread has a biscuit texture, kind of like a muffin. 

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

How to enjoy this bread

All gluten-free bread recipes have their unique flavour and texture, that’s for sure! This recipe, because of its simplicity and a shorter list of ingredients, creates a soft bread that can be crumbly.

Eating this bread fresh with a buttery spread or seed butter is very good but slicing your mini loaves or buns in half and toasting the pieces in a cast iron pan for breakfast or snack is my favourite way to enjoy this bread.

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

Tips for rising the dough

You can rise the dough in the mixing bowl (like in the video) or transfer the mixture to the pan(s) right away. Both methods still require some rising time but once baked; they will yield comparable results.

Best Plant Milk for Baking

Fresh homemade hemp milk works well in gluten-free and vegan baked recipes. It’s easy to make, and you can purchase hemp seeds in most health food stores.

Coconut milk is another great alternative. If you can find an organic brand, the quality will be even better.

Depending on where you live in the world, and the ingredients that are available to you, trying different types of plant kinds of milk is encouraged. Just make sure they are homemade or include the shortest list of ingredients.

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

Sugar

I’m sure this recipe could be made without sugar, although, I haven’t tried it myself. At first, I had more but quickly realized that it wasn’t necessary to have it that sweet. I did keep one tablespoon.

If you try it without sugar, please share your experience with us in the comments.

Oil

If you’re a bread lover that prefers to avoid oil, this recipe should work fine without as I only add a small amount to the ingredients.

Baking Vessels

There is a multitude of ways to bake this dough. The best is the try and keep the loaves and buns smaller. Dividing the mixture into about four portions works the best.

Even though you can bake the mixture as one loaf, the texture is better when baked into mini loaves of bread or buns. Keep reading for a list of useful tool and suggested baking vessels.

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

Useful Tools

  • Pan (frying pan or medium pot)
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spoon
  • Baking vessel examples: 4x baking rings (3.5-in), 4-cavity mini loaf pan (3.5×1-3/4-in), 6-cup muffin top pan, muffin pan or bread pan (7.5×3.5-in)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking Sheet
👩‍🍳 🍞 Good Food Cooking School 🥖🍪
If you’re interested in learning more about gluten-free baking, check out the Good Food Cooking School courses taught by cookbook author Heather Crosby from YumUniversity.

I took the Bread Baking and the Classic Cookies 101 course a while back, and it’s what got me hooked on my baking journey. Take a tour to see if her baking courses are right for you! 

A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com
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A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

Japanese Milk Bread (Gluten-Free Vegan)

  • Author: Chantal | Fresh is Real
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes + 1.5 hours rise time
  • Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2.5 hours
  • Yield: 4 buns or mini loaves 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven-Baked
  • Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegan, Nut-Free, Allergen-Friendly

Description

Are you intrigued by the Hokkaido Japanese method of adding Tangzhong (roux; cooked flour and water) to help soften your bread? This simplified gluten-free, vegan and allergen-friendly version will show you that it is possible to make soft bread even without wheat, eggs, dairy or added gums! 

Useful Tools

  • Pan (frying pan or medium pot)
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spoon
  • Baking vessel examples: 4x baking rings (3.5-in), 4-cavity mini loaf pan (3.5×1-3/4-in), 6-cup muffin top pan, muffin pan or bread pan (7.5×3.5-in)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Baking Sheet

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons GF white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup water*
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons GF active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons homemade hemp milk** (or other unsweetened plant milk)
  • 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup warm water*
  • 1 cup GF white rice flour
  • 1 cup GF sweet sorghum flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened (optional)
  • Seeds (sesame, poppey, sunflower, pumkin) to decorate (optional)

Instructions

Before you begin, please watch this helpful video.

Step 1

To make the roux: combine 2 tablespoons of white rice flour and 1/2 cup of water in pan and cook on low heat. Keep stiring or moving the mixture around with a soft spatula until it thickens and has a paste like consistency (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and allow the mixture cool down.

Step 2

To a large bowl, combine the salt, yeast, plant milk, sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water, mix and let site for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 3

To the same bowl, add the flour and start mixing. At this point, go ahead and add the cooled roux and remaining 1/4 cup of water. You can also add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to help the texture of the bread but it’s optional as it also works without. Mix well until everything is combined and smooth. Cover and let rise for 1.5 hours.

Step 4

After 1.5 hours, preheat your oven to 400° F. To bake this recipe, you can use greased and parchment line (highly recommended to prevent sticking) baking rings, a 4-cavity mini loaf pan, a muffin tin, or bread pan. If using baking rings, you will need a parchment lined baking sheet to place the rings onto. 

Scoop out and divide the dough amongts 4 rings or a 4-cavity mini loaf pan or smaller bread pan. If baking the dough into buns using a muffin pan or muffin top pan you can probably make 6 large ones or 8 smaller buns. Please note that I did not try it in the muffin pans yet. You can sprinkle some seeds (i.e., sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumkin) to each top if you wish to decorate your mini loaves or buns.

Step 6

Transfer your baking vessel(s) with dough mixture to the oven and bake for 25-30 (4 mini loaves or 4 larger buns). The baking times will vary for muffin sized buns or 6 thinner buns. If baking the dough mixture into one larger 7.5×3.5-in loaf pan, the baking time will be around 40 minutes.

Step 7

Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes then completely on wire rack and enjoy with your favourite buttery topping or homemade jam!



Notes

Once cooled the bread can be kept on the counter wrapped in a clean dish towel for a day. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a glass container or sealed bag for a few extra days. Once refrigerated it is recommended to toast the bread. 

* Filtered or spring water. 

**For best results make the bread with homemade hemp milk. Hemp milk recipe: combine 1/3 cup of organic hemp hearts with 1-1/4 cup of water and blend in a small high speed blender until smooth and frothy. Strain milk through mesh bag to remove larger unwanted bits. The bread can also be made with coconut milk but keep in mind that it can create a slightely sweeter bread. I did not test other types of plant milk.

Keywords: Milk Bread, Gluten-Free, Vegan Bread, Japanese Milk Bread, Egg-free Bread, Dairy-Free Bread, Tangzhong, Roux Bread, Nut-Free, Allergy-Free

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A gluten-free, vegan version of Japanese Milk Bread with some Tangzhong (roux). freshisreal.com

6 Comments

  1. I cannot get sorghum flour here in my place. What do you recommend me to substitute sorghum flour? I do have sweet rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch. Thankyou.

    View Comment
    • Hi Shen! Sorghum flour is very light in texture and flavour. I’m afraid that sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour) or starches might not work as well. Maybe light buckwheat flour or GF oat flour could work but I can’t say for sure because I did not try these alternatives for this recipe. Maybe millet flour could work too?

      View Comment
  2. Would this also work with brown rice flour instead of white rice flour?

    View Comment
  3. Rodrigo Troilo

    hello!! thanks for the recipe <3 <3 <3
    can I use only sorgum flour?

    View Comment

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ALLERGEN NOTE

Make sure the ingredients you purchase are prepared in a facility free from the top allergens YOU AVOID. Gluten-free products should be certified GF and clearly labelled. Consult your medical professional with your dietary questions.

Even certified gluten-free ingredients such as GF oats, corn, seeds, etc., can create health problems for individuals following a GF diet. Always consult a medical professional if unsure about ingredients for your needs.