Japanese Condensed Milk Bread is a delicious way to enjoy condensed milk, enclosed in a soft and sweet bread that is studded with raisins and cherries.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon of the sugar, the warm milk, and the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, the remaining sugar, salt, condensed milk, and butter. Use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together. Gradually sprinkle some of the reserved flour, a little at a time, to help with the stickiness. Keep stirring until a soft, sticky dough gathers in the center of the bowl. You may not need the entire reserved flour at this point.
Generously flour a working board using the remaining flour. Turn the dough over onto the board. Knead the dough for 6-10 minutes, dusting more flour in the board and in your hands as needed. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 1 and 1/2 hours.
While the dough is rising, make the condensed milk filling. Stir together softened butter and condensed milk until it turns into a paste. It is important that the butter is very soft and the condensed milk is at room temperature. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Punch the dough down and roll it into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Spread the condensed milk filling across the surface of the dough. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough vertically into 4 sections, forming 4 long strips.
Stack the strips together, the filling side up. Cut the stacked dough into 8 sections. You now have 8 stacked rectangular dough portions. Arrange the dough portions in the greased loaf pan, with the long sides of the dough facing up. It is fine if a small space is vacant in the pan, it will be filled up once the dough rises. Let it rise for about an hour, covered loosely with a kitchen towel.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Top the dough with raisins, sliced almonds and maraschino cherries. Bake the bread at 325 F for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 then bake for 10-12 minutes more, or until the bread is golden. To serve, cut into slices or pull-apart.