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Milk Bread

Commonly found in Asian bakeries, this pillow-soft bread uses tangzhong to render three tall, spiraled loaves that are airy and delicately sweet, taking your everyday toast to the next level. Watch video tutorial below.
Milk Bread
Yield 1 (9x5-inch) loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (0.25oz) package (7g) or 2 1/4 teaspoons Platinum Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup (160g) warm whole milk (120°F/49°C to 130°F/54°C)
  • 1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 (100g) large eggs, room temperature and divided
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) whole milk

Tangzhong:

  • Makes about 1/3 cup
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (95g) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (19g) all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Make tangzhong: In a small saucepan, whisk together milk and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 149°F (65°C) on an instant-read thermometer and whisk leaves lines on bottom of saucepan. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature before using.
  • Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt by hand. Add tangzhong.
  • In a small bowl, lightly whisk together warm milk, melted butter, and 1 egg (50g). Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and beat at low speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl, and switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed for 3 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium-low, and beat for 8 minutes. Check for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. (See Note1.)
  • Lightly oil a large bowl. Shape dough into a smooth ball, and place in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (See Note2.)
  • Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 3 equal portions (about 260g each). Shape each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a 12x5-inch oval. Place one oval horizontally in front of you. Fold right third over middle third. Fold left side over middle. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough, and reroll into a 12x5-inch oval. Starting with one short side, roll up dough, jelly roll style, into a cylinder. Place seam side down in the center of the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining two portions of dough and place in the pan on either side of the first cylinder. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and dough fills pan, 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • In a small bowl, whisk together milk and remaining 1 egg (50g). Brush top of loaf with egg wash.
  • Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 30 minutes, covering with foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes

  1. To check for proper gluten development, use the windowpane test: Pinch off a small piece of dough, and carefully stretch to a thin sheet. If dough stretches into a translucent sheet without tearing, it is ready. If dough tears, it requires more kneading.
  2. To test for doubling, quickly press the tips of two fingers ½ inch into dough. If indents remain, the dough has doubled in size.
VARIATIONS:
Orange Cardamom Rolls
Makes 9 rolls
• ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter, softened
• ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
• 1½ tablespoons (18g) packed orange zest
• ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  1. Prepare dough as directed through step 4. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend up side of pan.
  2. Lightly punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into an 18x12-inch rectangle. Using a small offset spatula, spread butter onto dough, leaving a ½-inch border on one long side. In a small bowl, combine sugar, zest, and cardamom. Sprinkle over butter.
  3. Starting with opposite long side, roll up dough, jelly roll style; pinch seam to seal. Gently shape log with hands to an 18-inch length and more even thickness, if necessary. Using a serrated knife dipped in flour, cut log into 9 (2-inch-thick) rolls, trimming edges slightly, if necessary. Place rolls, cut side down, in prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until dough is puffed and fills pan, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Prepare egg wash as directed, and brush onto dough.
  6. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Almond Cream Buns
Makes 12 buns
• 3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, softened
• ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
• ⅔ cup (64g) almond meal
• 1 large egg white (30g)
• ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
• ¼ cup (31g) all-purpose flour
• ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ cup (28g) sliced almonds
  1. Prepare dough as directed through step 4. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in almond meal until combined. Add egg white and almond extract, and beat at low speed until combined. Beat in flour and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 pieces (about 68g). Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Roll each ball into a 3½-inch disk. Place a heaping tablespoon almond cream in center of each disk. Pinch edges up and around filling until well-sealed. Place dough, seam side down, on work surface. Gently cup with your hand, and rotate dough 2 to 3 times to seal and create a smooth round. Place on prepared pans. Using sharp scissors, make 4 shallow (about ½ inch) cuts equidistant around buns. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Prepare egg wash as directed, and brush onto dough. Top with sliced almonds.
  6. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 12 to 14 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Gruyère and Chive Rolls
Makes 14 rolls
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups (170g) freshly grated Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 4 tablespoons (12g) chopped fresh chives, divided
  1. Prepare dough as directed through step 4. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper.
  2. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 17x14-inch rectangle. Place dough horizontally in front of you, and brush with oil. Sprinkle 1 cup (113g) cheese on right half of dough. Top with 3 tablespoons chives (9g). Fold left side of dough over right side. Using a pastry wheel, cut dough into 14 (1-inch-wide) strips. Twist each strip, and form into a spiral, tucking and pinching end underneath to seal. Place on prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  4. Prepare egg wash as directed, and brush onto dough. Top with remaining ½ cup (57g) cheese.
  5. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 12 to 15 minutes. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon (3g) chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.