How To Make Malunggay Bread Shokupan Style

Healthy Filipino | Recipes by Rezel Kealoha - April 27th, 2021
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This super soft and milky Malunggay Bread will be your new everyday loaf of bread. At the same time learn how to make an indispensable roux starter to include in all your bread baking.

Photo of a loaf of Malunggay Bread sliced on a cutting board with a vase of green plants in the background.

What is Malunggay?

First lets start with what is Malunggay. It’s actually a tree and the small oval leaves from the tree are harvested to use in soups, stir-fries and even tea in Filipino Cuisine. It can also be used as additional flavoring in bread. The leaves are dried and leaves almost smell like they have been roasted and taste like slightly peppery tea leaves.

How do I make my own dried Malunggay Leaves?

To make your own leaves take the leaves of the branches and lay out on a large baking sheet. Leave to dry out where you got lots of sunlight. It should take 2-3 days to dry out depending on how much sun you are getting on it. Move the leaves around through the day. If you can put the leaves outside making sure it’s not a windy day. Once the leaves are dry transfer to a glass jar.

What is Shokupan?

Shokupan is the Japanese word for everyday sliced soft bread. It has a very distinct light soft crust and a cotton soft milky interior. It’s also known as Hokkaido Milk bread, possibly named after a famous Prefecture in northern Japan known for it’s milk.

The key to the softness of this Malunggay bread is Tangzong. A precooked roux of flour, water and milk. This roux locks in the moisture by creating a gel from the starches along with the high heat. It does all this without activating the gluten. It’s magic really!!

Step 1: How to make Tangzong

To make Tangzong you will need:

Image on the left is of a cup of water, cup of milk and a bowl of bread flour in a wooden bowl.  Image on the right is finished tangzhong in a sauce pan with a whisk in the pan.  The pan is on a cream pot holder.

Mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan until there are no lumps. Put over medium to low heat and keep stiring with a whisk for 3-5 minutes until it starts to look like glue. When the whisk starts to leave lines on the pan through the mixture, its now down. Transfer to a bowl to cook down until it’s needed for the next step.

Step 2: How to Make Malunggay Bread (Shokupan)

Image on the left side are sugar, yeast, milk, tangzhong, salt, milk powder and bread in separate bowls.  The dried malunggay leaves are in a mortar and pestle.  The image on the right is a silver mixing bowl filled with ingredients.

The ingredients you will need for Malunggay Bread are:

Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Initially use the dough hook to lightly mix to make a shaggy dough, then put the hook in the machine and mix the dough for just 2 minutes. This lightly brings the dough together. You are now going to stop and cover it with a wet kitchen towel.

Image on the left is a sliver mixing bowl filled with shaggy dough with a dough hook.  Image on the left is the dough after being mixed for 2 minutes half covered with a tea towel.

This process both relaxes your dough and helps activate the gluten strands without kneading. Leave the Malunggay Bread dough to rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes put the dough back on the machine and mix at speed 4 for 15-20 minutes until the dough is nice and soft.

Lightly grease a different bowl and take the dough out of the mixing bowl. Shape into a tight ball and place in the bowl. Cover with the same wet tea towel you used before and leave to rise for 1 hour.

Step 3: How to Shape the Malunggay Bread

Image on the left is a small bowl of dough in a glass mixing bowl.  Image on the right is a risen dough with a hole poked right in the middle.

To check that the dough has risen, lightly flour one of your fingers and then poke the middle of the dough. If the hole stays and does not bounce back, it’s ready to be put in a loaf pan.

To prep the dough for the loaf pan, take it out of the bowl and lightly shape into a oval. Another optional way to shape it is to fully roll out the dough about 12 inches long and then starting at one end roll it as if you were making a cinnamon roll. But don’t cut, just place the whole roll into a greased loaf tin.

Raw Malunggay bread dough in a loaf tin.

Leave to rise again for 1 hour. Cover with the same tea towel again and leave somewhere warm.

Step 4: Bake the Bread!

At the 30 minute mark start to pre-heat your oven to 350C. Once the bread has fulling risen, bake for 25 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.

Take the bread out of the loaf tin and leave to cool fully on a wire rack. Look at the flecks of malunggay leaves all throughout the bread. They look almost confetti like.

Malunggay Bread on a gold wire rack with a vase filled with water and plants in the background.

How to serve and store the bread

This Malunggay Bread is so nice and soft. To eat it and fully taste the malunggay leaves, it’s recommended to have it lightly toasted and buttered. It’s also great with some jam or with pimento cheese.

To store, leave on the counter top in a bread box or cake dome. It will stay soft for up to 4 days. If you don’t think you can finish the bread slice and store in the freezer. To defrost, just pop in the toaster.

Three slices of Malunggay Bread on top of each other slightly on an angle.

Recipe Tips on How to Make Malunggay Bread

Can I use All Purpose Flour?

You can use all purpose flour, just note that it might not rise as much. Bread flour has a higher protein content. The key to milk bread is the chew and you need that from bread flour.

Can I use Malunggay / Moringa Powder?

Yes you can! Replace the dried leaves with 1 tablespoon of powder. Just note the bread will not be white with green flecks. Instead the bread will have the color of light green instead.

What happens if my bread does not rise in 1 hour?

Usually this happens if your kitchen is on the cooler side. If it is, I recommend boiling some water and pouring it into 2 mugs. With the oven *OFF* place your dough inside with the 2 mugs of boiling water on each side. This will create a faux humidity and will activate the yeast faster.

Sometimes, you do have slow acting yeast. Wait another hour to see if it will rise. If it still has a minimal rise the last resort is to still leave it overnight. After leaving it overnight and it still does not rise, I’m afraid you have dead yeast. That is extreamly rare. If that does happen I would start again.

Can I skip the Tangzhong?

This is a key part of making milk bread, so it is advisable that you do keep this step. Otherwise you will just be making regular sliced bread.

Can I use a Vegan Milk?

If you do want to use a vegan milk, you would need to use one with a high fat content. Something like full fat coconut milk. Note that the taste will be more coconut than milk.

How to Make Malunggay Bread – Shokupan (Milkbread) Style

This recipe makes a small loaf of Malunggay Bread that is supper soft and milky using the Tangzong method.
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Filipino, Japanese
Servings: 1 Loaf


  • Stand Mixer


For the Tangzhong:

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons bread flour

For the Malunggay Bread:

  • 275 grams bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg


  • For the Tangzhong
  • Place the water, milk and bread flour in a small pan. Mix until there are no lumps. It’s going to look very watery, but don’t worry, the heat will cook it down. Turn the heat to low. Stir the mixture constantly with a whisk for 3 to 5 minutes until it starts looking like glue, and the whisk leaves lines in the roux.
    Transfer the tangzhong to a small bowl and leave to cool fully.

For the Malunggay Bread:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread flour, dried malunggay leaves, milk powder, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix well. Then add in the milk, and tangzhong. Using the bread hook, combine the ingredients until you get a shaggy dough. Lightly knead for 2 minutes until the dough comes together.
    Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes, covered with a wet and clean tea towel. This helps the dough absorb the moisture and start the process of activating the gluten strands prior to kneading.
    Put the bowl of dough back on the stand mixer and knead at medium speed for 15-20 minutes until the dough is nice and soft.
  • Lightly grease a bowl with vegetable oil. Form the dough into a tight ball and cover with cling wrap. Leave to rise in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size.
    After an hour, it’s time to test if the dough is ready. Just flour one finger and poke the dough with it! If the hole stays and does not bounce back, the dough is ready.
  • Prepare a loaf tin by greasing it with some vegetable oil.
  • Punch down the dough and roll into an oval loaf shape to fit into your tin.
  • Cover the tin with a damp cloth and leave to rise until the dough is close to the loaf tin height. It should take about an hour, but at the 30-minute mark, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Bake the Japanese milk bread for 30 minutes. Let the bread cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • Make sure to use Bread Flour and not All Purpose Flour to make this bread. 
  • Leave the dough to rest to ensure it has time to absorb the water and milk.
  • Fully cool the loaf of bread before slicing or else you might rip the bread.
Did you enjoy making it? I would love to see it! Tag me on Instagram @rezelkealoha with the #rezelkealoha!

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