Ah, it feels good to be back. With another whirlwind of a school year flown by, to me summer is the time to truly relax. While I’m sure internships, work arrangements, studying abroad, etc. are worthwhile for other reasons, I look forward to summer as the season to spend time with family, travel, and pursue my non-academic/career-related hobbies, such as food blogging!
So without any further delay, let’s talk food. Baking bread from scratch is an investment of time and quite a bit of arm muscle, but Hokkaido milk bread is something I’ve wanted to try my hand at for a while now. Its dreamy, flossy, cloud-soft texture made it so I could not resist any longer. For this recipe, I opted for an overnight proof not only because it spreads the work out, but also because few things make mornings feel as wonderful as the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting in the air. On another note, since I don’t like wasting food and thus having to figure out what to do with the rest of an egg wash, I opted for a milk wash instead. Milk still has the amino acids and sugars necessary to promote the desirable Maillard (browning) reaction, so I was okay forgoing the shiny finish.
After making Hokkaido milk bread, I’d say it’s definitely a process (and don’t forget a good arm workout is bundled in there too), but the end product made it all worthwhile! The matcha flavor was subtle, but the butter offered its rich flavor much more prominently than expected. I’m not a huge fan of overtly buttery things and since I’m always up for making a recipe more healthy, I’d be curious to try this recipe again with as little as 1 tbsp of butter and a tsp more matcha powder and tbsp more sugar (to help balance out the additional matcha). Nonetheless, a basic Hokkaido milk bread recipe is very welcoming to various flavor enhancements and shape alternations. Although this time around I chose to swirl in matcha and baked it as a loaf, you can bet more milk bread experiments are already on the agenda!
Matcha Hokkaido Milk Bread
- 1 equivalent of tangzhong (2.5 tbsp bread flour + 1/2 cup water)
- 300 g bread flour (2.5 cups)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp matcha powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp butter (diced, room temperature)
- Some milk for brushing the dough before baking
To make the tangzhong:
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and water until no lumps remain.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until whisk-trailing lines start to form in the noticeably thickened batter (~5 min).
- Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
To make the milk bread:
- Heat the milk to lukewarm (~20s in the microwave), stir in the yeast, and let stand until foamy (~5 min).
- Meanwhile, mix together the bread flour, sugar, matcha powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, stir together the cooled tangzhong, egg, and foamy yeast-milk mixture.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with chopsticks until a shaggy dough forms.
- Switch to your hands and knead the dough until it forms a smooth, elastic ball (this took me ~30 minutes with quite a few breaks in between; the dough will be very sticky at first, but have faith and keep kneading; resist the urge to add more flour!).
- In three additions, gradually knead the butter into the dough, adding more only after the previous addition has been evenly incorporated (the dough will be slippery at first, but should eventually become an even smoother and less sticky mass).
- Place the dough in a bowl with plenty of room. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof overnight in the refrigerator (if you’re in a time crunch you could alternatively let it proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until doubled).
- Using a scale, divide the proofed dough into 4 equal portions. Using a rolling pin, roll out a piece into an oval. Fold the dough into thirds widthwise, flip the piece over so that the fold is on the bottom, and roll out the dough again into one long piece. Flip the piece back over (so the rolled-out fold will be on the inside) and roll it up lengthwise into a plump log. Place the log into a parchment-lined loaf pan and repeat with the remaining three dough pieces.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough proof again until doubled (~1 hour).
- Brush dough with milk and bake at 325 F for 30 minutes. To test if the bread is done, tap the bread (it should sound hollow once done). Let cool slightly and savor the fruits of your labor!
Perfectly delicious on its own. Perfect for pairing with a spread.