Soft & Delicious Sandwich Milk Bread (Pullman Loaves)

Soft Sandwich Milk Bread (Pullman Loaves)

This Soft Sandwich Milk Bread is based on my Soft & Delicious Japanese Milk Bread recipe. It is soft, moist and light. It is enriched with milk and eggs so it’s also full of flavor. And because of the secret ingredient – tangzhong, it will stay soft and moist for days.

These sandwich loaves are baked in Pullman loaf pans. Bread baked in Pullman loaf pans come out perfectly square because of the tall sides and accompanying lid. The loaves have a thin crust and a soft, but slightly compacted interior ideal for sandwiches.

For some helpful tips before you begin, click here. (Recommended)

Makes 2 standard 8x4x4-inch Pullman loaves.

*For larger 13x4x4-inch Pullman loaves, CLICK HERE to see the ingredient amounts. Or scroll to the bottom of this post.



  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) bread flour


  • 1 cup (240 ml) half & half
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 g or 2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 5 cups (650 g) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup (62 g) milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup (56 g) unsalted butter, softened


1. Make the tangzhong.

– In a small pan, over medium heat, combine the water and bread flour for the tangzhong.
– Whisk until thick like pudding, maybe 3 to 5 minutes.
– Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate to cool while gathering the remaining ingredients.

2. Activate the yeast.

– Warm the half & half to about 110°F (49°C). (Slightly warm to the touch.)
– Stir together the warm half & half, sugar and yeast.
– Let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, until foamy.

3. Combine the dough ingredients (except the butter).

– In a stand mixer bowl, briefly stir together the bread flour, milk powder and salt to mix and to remove any large lumps.
– Add the eggs, the foamy yeast mixture and the cooled tangzhong.
– Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour has been incorporated and everything roughly comes together to form a shaggy dough.

4. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. (See TIPS)

– Using a stand mixer, knead the dough with the dough hook attachment on low speed (setting #2) for about 30 seconds to a minute to bring the ingredients together.
– Increase to medium speed (setting #4) and knead for up to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

*Test if the dough has been kneaded enough by pulling on a bit of it and stretching it thin with your fingers. If you can stretch the dough thin enough that light can shine through it without tearing, it has been kneaded enough. (See TIPS)

5. Knead in the butter.

– Add in the butter two tablespoons at a time and knead on low speed (setting #2), making sure each addition of butter is fully incorporated before adding the next. 
– After all the butter is incorporated, increase speed to medium (setting #4) and knead for 3 to 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth, elastic and glossy.

6. Let the dough Rise until about double in volume.

– Scrape the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl.
– With lightly greased fingers, gather up the dough by pulling up the sides and folding it into the center. Do this a few times to bring the dough together into a ball.
– Flip the dough, so that the top is smooth and oiled.
– Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour or until double in size.

7. Form the loaves. (See Tips)

– Grease two 8x4x4-inch Pullman pans, including the lids.

– Remove the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
– Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and shape each into a smooth ball. 
– Cover the dough balls loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 10 minutes.

– Using a rolling pin, roll out a rested dough ball into an oval about 9-inches wide. (Lightly flour the counter and rolling pin as needed.)
– Fold the sides into the middle resulting in 3 layers.
– Flatten the dough with the rolling pin
– Then roll the dough into a snug cylinder.
– Pinch the seams and place seam side down into one of the loaf pans..
– Repeat with the remaining five dough balls, placing three cylinders of dough per loaf pan.

8. Let the loaves rise until double in volume and ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).

– Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour, until about double in volume and ready to bake.

The dough is ready to bake when:
– The top of the dough has risen about three-quarters of the way to the top of the pan.
– If you lightly poke the dough, the indentation left by your finger slowly bounces back only half-way. (See TIPS

– 30 minutes through the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).

9. Bake the sandwich bread.

– Make sure your oven is preheated to 350°F (176°C).
– Slide the covers onto the pans before placing the bread in the oven.
– Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread is deep golden brown with an internal temperature of 190°F (88°C).

10. Tap the pan on the counter. Immediately remove the sandwich bread to a wire rack.

– Take the bread from the oven and give it a firm tap on the counter before immediately removing it from the pan to cool on a wire rack. (Lay a kitchen towel on the counter first to protect your counter from the hot pan.)
– Cool your Soft Sandwich Milk Bread completely before slicing.

Soft Sandwich Bread
Soft Sandwich Bread 6

About this recipe

This Soft & Delicious Sandwich Milk Bread recipe is based on my Japanese Milk Bread recipe. It is by far the favorite sandwich bread in our house. So soft and flavorful, this bread is the ideal sandwich loaf. It slices beautifully, too.

These loaves are baked in Pullman loaf pans, so they come out perfectly square with a thin crust and a soft and light but slightly compact interior, perfect for sandwiches.

soft sandwich milk bread with lettuce and tomato

What also makes this Soft Sandwich Milk Bread special is the use of tangzhong. Tangzhong is a gelatinous roux of flour and water added into the dough. The result is a soft, moist sandwich bread with a prolonged shelf life.


Here are 7 helpful tips:

1) Starting the dough:

– A few points to make sure your dough turns our right every time:

Use a scale. (Or get one!)

  • While I sometimes find using volume measures more convenient, weight measures will give more accurate and consistent results. So if you bake regularly, you really should get a scale. (Preferably one that reads ounces and grams.)

Make sure the tangzhong is cooled.

  • It is important the tangzhong is cooled before adding it to your bread mixture. If your tangzhong is too hot, it may damage the yeast.

Don’t forget to soften your butter.

Butter will incorporate into the dough best when softened. Allow cold butter to sit out for at least 30 minutes to soften, or until you can press it with your finger and it will give beneath light pressure.

  • To soften butter quickly: I usually cut my cold butter into thin pats or small cubes. Then after a few minutes, I mash the butter with the flat side of a knife or the back of a spoon until it becomes smooth and spreadable.
softened butter

Make sure your yeast is active.

Yeast must be active for bread to rise. You know your yeast is alive and active if it becomes foamy when dissolved in warm water between 100°F (38°C) and 110°F (49°C) with a little sugar stirred in.

  • If the yeast doesn’t become foamy within 10 minutes, throw it out and try again.
  • After your yeast has been activated, don’t let it sit too long or else the yeast will be less effective.
Yeast after 10 minutes activation

2) Kneading the dough:

Proper kneading is necessary for bread dough to bake into the lightest, fluffiest, well-shaped loaves. So knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

  • The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic enough to be stretched until light can shine through without tearing (the windowpane test).
Siopao dough windowpane test
If your dough didn’t pass the windowpane test:

– If you have kneaded for the allotted time but your dough is not passing the windowpane test, don’t stress.

  • Rest your dough for 10 minutes (and up to 30 minutes) then test again. (It’s amazing what a little rest can do for dough’s smoothness and elasticity.)
  • If the dough is still not smooth and elastic, knead for 3 minutes and then re-test.
  • Repeat, if needed, until the dough passes the windowpane test.

Do not over-knead:

  • If you start to feel the dough becoming firm and less stretchy, stop kneading or else you risk over-kneading your dough. Over-kneaded dough will become dry and dense with a hard crust.

3) Shaping the dough:

  • Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Use a scale, if you have one.
  • Roll each portion into a ball and rest for about 10 minutes.
  • Roll out a rested dough ball into an oval about 8 or 9-inches wide.
  • Fold the sides of the oval into the middle to get 3 layers.
  • Flatten the dough with the rolling pin and then roll into a snug cylinder.
  • Pinch the seams and place into greased baking pans, seam-side down.

*SHOWN BELOW: Dough shaped for large 13x4x4-inch loaves.

4) When is the dough ready for baking?

  • When you poke the dough, the indentation from your finger bounces back only half-way.
  • The dough has risen about three-quarters of the way to the top of your Pullman pan.
Poke test on Japanese Milk Bread dough

5) If your Pullman pan is missing its lid…

– Pullman loaf pans come with lids that slide on to keep the dough compressed for perfectly square loaves. But not all pans come with lids, or the lids come defective (that’s me in both cases – sigh). But here’s one way to get around that:

  • Top the loaf pan with some parchment paper. Then place a flat baking sheet with a heavy, heavy pan on top of that.
  • I use a large, heavy cast iron griddle for weight. To my amazement, the oven spring (the rising of the bread during baking) is very strong and a regular cast iron skillet was not heavy enough to keep the dough from pushing off the baking sheet.
  • Or bake without a lid. Your loaves will be tall with a rounded top with a light, airy interior.
soft sandwich milk bread baked without a lid

6) Baking times vary. (Get an instant-read thermometer!)

– Ovens vary, so the baking times given are just estimates. It may take more or less time for your bread to bake, so it’s good to check early and check often.

  • Instant-read thermometers are the most reliable way to check for doneness.
  • Bread is done baking when the internal temperature reaches 190°F (88°C).
instant-read thermometer

– But if you do not have an instant-read thermometer, try tapping the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it is done.

7) Give the pan a good tap and then remove the baked bread from the pan immediately.

– It’s important, upon taking the bread out of the oven, to give the pan a firm tap on the counter and then immediately remove the bread from the pan onto a cooling rack. (Lay a kitchen towel on the counter to protect it from the hot pan.)

  • If the bread is left in the pan, the bread may become a bit misshapen.
  • The perfectly square bread on the left was given a firm tap on the counter and then removed from the pan immediately. The bread on the right was left to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and developed a bit of a “waist’.
Soft Sandwich Bread 4
This Soft Sandwich Bread slices beautifully.

For larger loaves:

Here are the ingredient amounts for 2 loaves baked in large 13x4x4-inch Pullman pans.


  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1/3 cup (43 g) bread flour


  • 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) half & half
  • 1/3 cup (57 g) sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (14 g or 2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 6 1/2 cups (845 g) bread flour
  • 1/2 cup (62 g) milk powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (15 g) salt
  • large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter, softened

– Bake as instructed above, EXCEPT divide the dough into 8 equal portions (4 portions per pan).

large sandwich loaf

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