What Is Japanese Bread Flour? (What It Is, Substitutes + More)

Japan is known for having a lot of delicious food, but one recipe that is taking the world by storm is Japanese bread due to its tasty flavor and soft texture.

If you have had Japanese bread and noticed how soft Japanese bread is, you may be wondering what Japanese bread flour is. I did the research, and this is what I learned!

What Is Japanese Bread Flour?

Japanese bread flour is not a specific type of flour, but it is used to refer to any type of flour used to make Japanese bread. However, Japanese bread flour usually contains 12% gluten and is much finer than other bread flour. Moreover, certain brands sell Japanese bread flour, such as Prima.

Do you want to learn why Japanese bread is so soft, if Japanese bread flour is better, and if Japanese bread flour has gluten? Keep reading!

What Is Japanese Bread Flour Made Of?

Generally, Japanese bread flour refers to bread flour to make Japanese bread, which is often made from hard wheat.

Additionally, Japanese bread flour is usually ground extra finely, which helps Japanese bread become silky and soft.

Does Japanese Bread Flour Have Gluten?

Normally, Japanese bread flour does have gluten because Japanese bread flour is made from wheat, which has gluten.

How much gluten Japanese bread flour has can vary, but you can expect around 12% gluten to be in your Japanese bread flour.

Why Is Japanese Bread Flour Better?

Typically, Japanese bread flour has a high gluten content, which is ideal for making bread recipes because high gluten levels allow the bread to rise and have structure.

Moreover, Japanese bread flour tends to be very finely ground, which gives the bread a significantly silky and soft texture.

For instance, general bread flour tends to be very dense and chewy, which is ideal for standard bread loaves.

On the other hand, Japanese bread is extremely soft because Japanese bread flour has a little less gluten than regular bread flour and is ground very well.

Why Is Japanese Bread So Soft?

Why Is Japanese Bread So Soft?

Typically, Japanese bread is soft because Japanese bread flour has the ideal gluten content and consistency that gives Japanese bread a soft texture.

However, Japanese bread is often made with a method called tangzhong, which is a method used in traditional bread making to make the bread last longer and softer.

Tangzhong is made by mixing 5 parts of liquid (like water) with 1 part of the flour in a pot until there are no lumps. Typically, this will only be a small amount of flour taken from the bread recipe.

Next, the tangzhong mixture gets heated to 149°F while constantly mixing, taking the tangzhong off the heat once it reaches 149°F. Let the tangzhong cool before using it in your bread recipe.

Does Tangzhong Really Work?

Tangzhong is similar to a “water roux” where water and flour are made into a roux that looks similar to a custard instead of mixing the flour and water as you normally would.

Typically, tangzhong is made by mixing a little liquid, which is usually water with flour until the mixture thickens.

Tangzhong is made because the idea is that hot flour can absorb more water than room temperature water, so there will be more liquid in your bread recipe.

However, tangzhong functions very differently than high hydration flour or dough because high hydration flour and dough are very sticky and can be dry whereas using tangzhong in your bread recipe allows the bread to retain a lot of liquid.

Is Japanese Flour The Same As Japanese Bread Flour?

Typically, Japanese flour cannot be considered the same as Japanese bread flour because they are made from different ingredients.

For instance, Japanese flour usually refers to flour made from non-glutinous rice, which is the rice used to make dishes like oyakodon and sushi.

On the other hand, Japanese bread flour refers to flour used to make bread, which is normally a type of wheat flour.

What Is Prima Japanese Bread Flour?

Prima Japanese bread flour is a brand of Japanese bread flour that is ideal for Japanese bread, and most people prefer Prima because it is considered a consistent bread flour.

Generally, Prima Japanese bread flour is known for being highly absorbent and high in gluten, which are essential elements in creating Japanese bread.

It is not known exactly how much gluten is in Prima Japanese bread flour, but Prima Japanese bread flour is estimated to have 11-13% gluten.

However, Prima Japanese bread flour is not limited to Japanese bread recipes as you can use Prima Japanese bread flour for all types of bread, such as soft loaves, artisan bread, and more.

Is Prima Japanese Bread Flour Unbleached?

Prima Japanese Bread Flour is generally unbleached given that the packaging states that the flour is unbleached.

What Can I Substitute For Japanese Bread Flour?

Generally, you can use regular bread flour instead of Japanese bread flour because they have similar gluten levels since regular bread flour has around 12-14% gluten while Japanese bread flour has 12% gluten.

However, you may want to add the tangzhong method to your bread recipe if you use regular bread flour since bread flour tends to be denser than Japanese bread flour.

Have a look at our other articles to discover what heat-treated flour is, what Hong Kong flour is, and what high gluten flour is.


Generally, Japanese bread flour is not a specific type of flour, but rather a flour that is used to create Japanese bread.

Normally, Japanese bread flour is high in gluten and ground finely, which allows the dough to absorb more water and produce very silky and soft bread.

However, there are brands of Japanese bread flour such as Prima that sell flour specifically call their flour Japanese bread flour.

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