Milk bread or “pai bao” 排包 is a light, fluffy bread with a slight sweet, buttery taste. It’s one of my childhood favourites and I can eat it all day! This recipe has a few basic ingredients and has quickly become a staple in our home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and from everyone quarantine baking) I was only able to buy multigrain bread flour, but it turned out to be a great modification to the milk bread with an interesting texture (and I guess healthier!).
The tangzhong method is an Asian bread technique which refers to adding a water/flour roux to the dough, making the bread lighter and fluffier when baked. Combine flour and water over low heat and stir constantly. Watch the mixture carefully as it thickens very quickly. The tangzhong is ready when the whisk leaves lines at the bottom of the pot. Remove the tangzhong from the saucepan and let cool to room temperature in a bowl to prevent it from overcooking. The tangzhong can be made the night before, cover with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator.
Once the tangzhong is cooled to room temperature, we’re ready to get started! Combine the dry ingredients, the tangzhong, and egg and combine with the dough hook (Kitchenaid speed 2). Meanwhile, dissolve 8g (2 tsp) of sugar in lukewarm milk and add the yeast. The yeast should bubble up in about 5 minutes. Add the bloomed yeast and continue to knead for 10 minutes.
Add the butter and knead until it passes the windowpane test (approx. 15 minutes). Take a small ball of dough and hold it up with your index finger and thumbs. Slowly stretch it apart using your ring fingers into a thin membrane that you can see light through it. If the dough tears easily, continue to knead for a few more minutes and try again. The windowpane test is an indication that enough gluten has formed in the dough and has been kneaded enough. (Note: Whole wheat/multigrain flour will not stretch as thin as white flour due to the gritty bits tearing into the membrane). Be patient! For beginners it’s more likely to under-knead the dough than over-knead. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky, and should leave an indent when you press into it with a finger.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a clean cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
On a floured surface, divide the dough in 12 equal portions and shape each into a ball by pulling the sides of the dough down and pinching the bottom. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll each portion into a 5″ long rectangle (or the width of the pan). Fold the long top edge to the middle, then roll to the bottom edge. Pinch to seal and place the roll seam down into a greased loaf pan. Repeat to place 6 rolls in each pan. Cover the loaf pans and let rise for 1 hour or until the dough fills 3/4 of the pan.
Brush the loaf with egg wash and bake until golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when you knock on it. Enjoy the smell and the fluffiness of this freshly baked loaf!
Multigrain Milk Bread
- Stand mixer with dough hook
- Two 8×4 inch loaf pans
- 25 g multigrain bread flour* (3 tbsp)
- 100 ml water
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 125 ml milk
- 350 g multigrain bread flour* (1 3/4 cup)
- 8 + 52 g sugar (2 tsp + 1/4 cup)
- 5 g salt (1 tsp)
- 1 large egg
- 30 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 beaten egg
- Place 100ml of water in a sauce pan. Add 25g of flour and whisk until smooth
- Heat over low heat while whisking until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves lines at the bottom of the pot.
- Remove mixture from pot and cool to room temperature.
- Dissolve 8g of sugar into a bowl of lukewarm milk. The milk should be just warm to the touch, not hot as it will kill the yeast. Add the dry active yeast and gently mix. Allow the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast has been activated and looks bubbly and frothy.
- Combine flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the tangzhong and egg and mix with the dough hook attachment until incorporated.
- Add the milk+yeast mixture and knead for 10 minutes.
- Add the butter and continue to knead the dough for 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth, slightly sticky, and separated from the sides of the bowl.Do the windowpane test by taking a ball of dough and stretching it out slowly. If you cannot stretch it enough to see light through the dough without it ripping, continue to knead the dough for a few minutes and try again. Note: multigrain will not stretch as thin as white flour due to the gritty bits tearing into the membrane.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and place the bowl in a warm place to proof for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and split into 12 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Grease two 8" x 4" loaf pans.
- Roll one portion into a 5" long rectangle. Fold the long edge into the middle, and then roll to the opposite edge. Pinch and seal the seam. Repeat for the remaining portions.
- Place 6 rolls side by side, seam side down in each loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let proof for 1 hour or until the dough rises to fill about 3/4 of the loaf pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush the tops of the dough with egg wash. Bake the loaves for 25 minutes, until the top turns golden brown and sounds hollow when knocking on it. Turn loaves onto a rack to cool.