Milk bread has been my go to during this whole pandemic/quarantine. I used to avoid yeasted bread recipes like the plague–yeast just seemed so intimidating. But with people panicking and store shelves being empty, I decided to take on the daunting task with the abundance of time I found myself with.
And I was really delighted with the results! Milk bread, which I had only been able to buy at Asian bakeries, was finally within reach in my own kitchen. It’s a super forgiving recipe and can either be made passively with a stand mixer and a dough hook, or if you’re trying to get some aggression out, you can knead the dough by hand.
This is my favorite recipe, even now that stores are open and most items are easily accessible. It’s so versatile and I’ve used it in so many different ways–as a loaf, as buns, as a pastry base–the list is endless. If you’re like me and have been apprehensive about working with yeast, give this recipe a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
The fluffiest bread.
- 2 tbs + 2 tsps/22g bread flour
- ¼ cup/60mL milk
- ¼ cup/60mL water
- 2.5 cups/325g bread flour
- ¼ cup/50g granulated sugar
- 1tsp/ 3.5grams active dry yeast
- 1tsp/4g salt
- 1 egg
- ½ cup/120mL warm milk (between 80-90 degrees F)
- 4tbs/60g softened unsalted butter
- To make starter: Using a small, stainless steel pot on medium heat, whisk flour, milk and water together until mixture starts to thicken. Once thickens, remove from heat and keep stirring until you get an even consistency. This shouldn’t take long. Cover and allow to cool to room temperature (you can quicken this by leaving it in the fridge for a bit).
- Once the starter has cooled, you can make the dough. Add together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a stand mixer. Mix for a few seconds until combined.
- Add egg, milk and the starter and knead on low speed (level 2) for 5 minutes.
- At this point, the dough should have come together. Add softened butter by tablespoons, until well combined. Continuing kneading for a total of about 10 minutes. Keep checking your dough when nearing this point to see if dough is springy and elastic. Don’t be afraid to stop the kneading a little early or let it got on a little bit more.
- Form the dough into a round ball and place into a deep buttered bowl. Cover with plastic of a kitchen towel (or I like to use a plastic hair cap) and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubles in size. It may take less or more time, depending on the warmth and humidity.
- Punch the dough down and separate into four even pieces. Let rest for about 15 minutes, this will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.
- At this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- Roll out your four dough pieces until ovals. Roll each from one end to the other, until they resemble plump little logs. Place these logs into your loaf pan, evenly spaced from one another to allow for another proof.
- Cover, and let rest about 30 minutes, until the dough is just about at the edge of the loaf pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven at let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack. Be sure to cool for at least an hour so the crust will be nice and soft and fluffy!
- The starter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, some say that this leads to more complex flavors, but I haven’t noticed a difference.
- Feel free to double the amount of yeast if working in a colder/drier environment.
- Brush tops of loaves with milk or egg wash before baking to give it a shiny look. You can alternatively brush with butter immediately after removing from oven.
- If making buns, decrease baking time to 20 minutes.
- If you use a wash before baking, or don’t want your loaves to brown too much, cover with tin foil for the first 25 minutes of baking. Remove and let it brown for the rest of the baking time.
Per Serving: 128 calories; 3.8 g fat; 20 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 19 mg cholesterol; 128 mg sodium.