These milk bread are soft and fluffy rolls that are mildly sweet, making them versatile for pairing with your choice of jam, spreads or even with just a plain cup of coffee.
This milk bread had me at its deep golden top. That glossy, luxuriously dark top exterior is so impossible for me to resist. It sparked my imagination of spreading butter lavishly over a soft crust, and feeling in my mouth a sensation of warm, soft bread being moistened by the indulgent fat that is butter.
Milk bread has a mild taste and slight sweetness. Its simple profile makes it a perfect canvass for your choice of spread, be it fruit jam, cream cheese or whatever is your favorite. In my case, butter.
On most days though, I eat it plain . There is just something so satisfying about tasting the natural sweetness of bread and paying attention to its softness and fluffiness.
Milk bread is a thing in Asia being known for its soft, melt in your mouth texture, and as the name implies, milk is an ingredient. Most traditional methods call for making a starter, a roux which is flour cooked together in water as a preliminary step. This recipe is a simpler but foolproof method of making milk bread, and the results are amazing.
A stand mixer is employed here and it pretty much does all the job. Kneading using the dough hook takes about 15-18 minutes, and just like in the brioche recipe, my indication if the dough is ready is the slapping sounds that the dough makes against the sides of the mixing bowl. I will get to that later.
The recipe is enough to make 2 sets of rolls in a round baking pan, and with 8 pieces of rolls in each. It is just sensible for me to use the entire dough at once because the bread is gone in a flash anyway. They stay soft for days as long as they are stored in covered containers. You can also microwave them for 15-20 seconds, and they will still be as amazing as if they were just out of the oven.
The ingredients are simple. The only thing that you might not have stored in your fridge is the heavy cream, and in your pantry, the active dry yeast. The rest of the ingredients are pretty much staples in a household: Milk, eggs, sugar, flour and salt.
To start, you need to combine the cream and milk in a large microwaveable bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, until the temperature reaches 115 F. Now add the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer in the following order:
- Cream and milk mixture
Attach the dough hook to the mixer and start the machine on low, just to incorporate the ingredients together without making a splash of liquid or a cloud of flour in the air. Then slowly build up the speed to medium and mix the dough for 15 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl when necessary.
In about 10 minutes into the mixing, you should see your dough starting to form in the center, and is clinging to the dough hook. As you approach 15 minutes, the dough is beginning to slap the sides of the bowl and making the slapping sound.
If you are 10 minutes into the mixing and the dough seems like it is not coming together (still laying flat and shaggy in the bowl), sprinkle about a teaspoon or two of flour to the bowl. You can add up to 2-3 tablespoons of flour and just keep mixing until the dough is coming together in the center. You should hear the slapping sounds of the dough soon.
Over all, the kneading should take like 15-18 minutes only. Longer than that, you might risk over kneading your dough.
The dough is now ready for proofing. Its texture is still a little bit tacky when you poke it with your finger, but it has lost a lot of stickiness at this time.
Gather the dough into a ball. Sprinkle a little amount of flour into the sides and base of the bowl and place the dough for proofing. (Or set the ball of dough in another bowl, if you prefer.)
Meanwhile, grease the sides and bottom of two 9 inch round pans with butter.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set this aside on a warm place for about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hour. The dough should double in size.
After that , return the dough to the mixer and knead it using the dough hook on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Divide each portion into 8 equal portions, for a total of 16.
Roll each portion into a log of about 8-10 inches long. Roll the log into a coil, tucking the ends under the roll. Place each roll in the pan, giving them about an inch of space in between. Each pan can hold 8 pieces of rolls each.
Again, we will let this assembled dough rise for an hour. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.
Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 350 F. Make the egg wash by beating one egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the surface of the rolls with the egg wash, being careful not to let the liquid drip down the sides.
Bake the rolls for 23-25 minutes. The top should be deeply golden and a thermometer should read 200 F. Do not over bake them for they will dry out fast. I highly recommend using a thermometer for checking the doneness of bread.
Then, enjoy the fruit of your not so hard labor. Your bread is now ready for glazing, for slathering with spread or simply pick one out right there and feel the fluffiness of each bite.
If you prefer to do a simple glaze, mix 3 teaspoons of sugar with 2 teaspoons hot water. Stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Brush over the bread surface.
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
FOR THE EGG WASH
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
FOR THE SUGAR GLAZE
- 3 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp water
Combine milk and cream in a large microwaveable bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it reaches 115 F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the ingredients in the following order : cream and milk mixture, egg, sugar, flour, yeast and salt. Attach the dough hook and run the mixer, starting on low just to initially wet the dry ingredients.
Turn speed to medium and run the mixer for 15 more minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. In about 7-10 minutes into the mixing, you will see the dough starting to gather into the center and attaching itself into the dough hook. If your dough looks like it is not coming together at this point, sprinkle a little amount of flour (about half a teaspoon at a time) into the bowl and continue mixing. You can add up to two tablespoon of flour and you should soon see the dough starting to gather in the center of the bowl. As you approach the 15 minutes mark, you should hear the dough slapping the sides of the bowl as it clings to the dough hook. This is a good sign that your dough is ready for proofing.
Gather the dough into a ball, sprinkle a little bit of flour into a bowl and place the ball of dough inside it. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel and set it on a warm place for one hour to one hour and a half, until size of the dough is doubled. Meanwhile, Grease two 9 inch round cake pans. After the dough has risen, return it into the mixer with the dough hook and mix on medium for 5 more minutes.
Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. I usually cut the dough in half, then cut each portions in half again, and so on until I yield 16 equal pieces. Roll each portion into a log of about 8-10 inches in size, then twist each log into a coil. Tuck the ends underneath. Place each assembled dough inside the round pans, giving about an inch of space between each roll. Each cake pan should have 8 rolls each. Cover the roll loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again until double in size, about an hour or so.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Make the egg wash by lightly beating one egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the surface of the rolls with the egg wash without letting the fluid drip to the sides. Bake in a 350 F oven for 23-25 minutes or until rolls are deeply golden on top. A thermometer should read 200 F. Once it reaches that mark, the bread is done. Do not over bake. You can add glaze on top of the bread if you desire. Mix three teaspoons of sugar with two teaspoons hot water, stir it until the sugar is dissolved and brush over the bread.
Bread can be stored at room temperature in a covered container for up to three days. You can heat it in the microwave for 12-15 seconds, if desired.
Recipe adapted from The Woks of Life