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English milk loaf

This soft, slightly sweet, buttery English milk loaf is an absolute classic and without doubt, the best bread for making marmalade on toast. A few more ingredients than a basic loaf, and a few more techniques to learn, but the results are definitely worth the extra effort. Bake it today! And let us know in the comments how you got on...


For the pre-ferment
170g Strong white flour
180g Tap water
10g Bakers yeast
3g Salt

For the main dough
400g Strong white flour
185g Whole milk
35g Caster sugar
35g Butter (cubed, room temp)
7g Salt
and all of the pre-ferment

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For the pre-ferment

  1. Place the flour in a bowl. Add the salt. Crumble the yeast into the water and whisk to combine. Pour into the flour mixture and stir vigorously with a spoon to fully combine to a smooth batter.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film (food wrap) and leave to stand for 2-hours in the kitchen. After 2-hours the dough will have bubbled up and increased in size. It should smell amazing!

For the main dough

  1. Weigh the flour into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the salt and caster sugar and mix to combine. Using a spatula scrape the pre-ferment mixture into the stand mixer bowl on to of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk.
  2. Mix on a slow speed with a dough hook until the mixture comes together. Then increase to a medium-fast speed for 7-minutes. Add about half the cubes of butter and continue to mix on a medium-fast speed for about 2-minutes or until the butter is absorbed. Add the remaining butter and mix for a further 2-minutes until absorbed.
  3. Turn the dough out, using a scraper if required, onto a lightly oiled surface and shape into a ball. Place the ball into a lightly oiled bowl and leave to rise for about 2-hours by which time it should have doubled in size.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and split into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball and place in a lightly-oiled, straight-sided loaf tin. (We use a Pullman tin without the lid). Cover with cling film (food wrap) and leave to do its second rise for about 2-hours in a warm kitchen. Remove the cling film and replace with a tea-towel or linen cloth for the last 30-minutes of the rise to avoid the dough sticking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200℃ (392℉) for at least 30mins before baking.
  6. Put the loaf in the oven and immediately spray water inside liberally with a spray bottle to create steam.
  7. Quickly shut the door and turn the oven down to 180℃ (356℉). Set your timer for 30 minutes.
    Once the 30 mins has passed, take the loaf out of the oven and tip it out of the tin and place on a rack to cool. After a couple of hours to cool you can slice and enjoy.

Watch us make this on YouTube


Download the recipe as a PDF.

Milk loaf recipe×
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English milk loaf