Japanese milk bread is strongly linked to my childhood as my aunt made it from scratch almost daily. I would wake up with the smell of fresh bread wafting through the kitchen. She would cut me a thick slice – because shokupan is better when it’s cut thick – toast it, and spread a generous amount of butter and strawberry jam on it.
The main difference between the sandwich bread you are used to eating and Japanese milk bread is the use of yudane, a starter paste (roux) made with an equal amount of flour and boiling water. The paste retains its moisture and makes the dough soft, airy, and stretchy.
Make the tangzhong. Add bread flour, sugar, yeast, and salt, to bowl of your stand mixer, and combine.
Place dough hook on your mixer and add egg, milk, and tangzhong. Knead on low speed 5 min.
Add the butter and knead on medium speed for 20 min.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Brush top of logs with a little milk and bake in oven for 35-40 min.