Asian Sweet Bread / Hokkaido Milk Bread


Asian sweet bread, also known as Hokkaido milk bread, is a bread I have grown up with and will always hold dear in my heart. These breads, either plain and in amazingly delicious variations, are found in local bakeries throughout Asia.

Its distinctiveness is its softness and melt-in-your mouth texture, which makes it very different from western style breads which tend to be more dense, with a thick crust. (For the record, I love all kinds of bread). Asian sweet bread is also, as the name suggests, slightly sweet and milky.

It is surprising easy to make this delicious, fluffy bread. There are two main methods to bake this bread - the Tangzhong method, where a kind of water roux makes the bread very tender, and the traditional method, which is what I used here. I tried making this bread many times before, but this is the best ever, using this recipe I found from Rise and Flour (www.ricenflour.com). You can also view her youtube channel Savoury Days Kitchen, where she has a very good video showing the making of this bread. This method is simple and straight-forward, and quite fail-safe.

Just look at the softness of this bread. You can just peel off strips of it and let them melt in your mouth.........mmmmmmmmm. This one's a keeper.

For details and tips on kneading and other important points to note in bread making, see my post on How To Bake Bread.

Let's start!

In a deep bowl, whisk together bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, and salt. Once mixed well, add in the instant yeast and whisk together again.

Make a hole or well in the middle of the bowl with a spoon.

Pour the slightly whisked egg, whipping cream and the milk into the well, then mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.

It should look like this when it has been mixed well. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave aside for 20 minutes.

Now to knead

Dust a sturdy kneading counter with a little flour, then pour the dough on the counter and start to knead. You may also use a mixer with a dough hook to knead the flour. If kneading by hand, you may need about 20 to 25 minutes kneading. Use the windowpane test to check if kneading is done. Dough should be smooth and un-sticky at the stage.

First proofing

Lightly oil a deep bowl, put the dough in it and roll it around to coat it with the oil, then cover with clingfilm and leave it aside for about an hour to ferment. This is the first proofing.

Once the dough is doubled in size. check if dough is ready by poking your clean finger about 1 to 2 inches into the dough. If the dough does not re-fill, it is properly fermented. (as below). Gently knead the dough for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Now to shape the dough

You can shape the dough into any shape you wish, to fit any pan.

To shape into little logs, separate and cut the dough into 12 or 16 pieces (depending on how large your want your logs). I made half of this recipe, so I cut the dough into 8 pieces and fit 4 logs into a 4.5 inch by 8.5 inch rectangular pan. You may cut larger pieces, and fit 3 logs instead. You can also shape them into balls and fit them into a square or round shaped pan.

First tug the edges of each cut dough under, then shape and smoothen into a round ball. Do this for all, then place them under a cling film or damp cloth for about 5 minutes.

To shape into logs, use a small rolling pin to roll it into a long shape, then roll it up like a swiss roll. Press the roll down with your rolling pin, turn it quarter-way, and roll it again into a long shape and again roll it up like a swiss roll. Put it in the greased pan. Repeat until pan is filled, making sure to leave a little space in between each log for them to expand.

Second proofing

Then cover the pans with damp cloth and put aside for the second proofing.

Now to bake the bread

Once the bread has risen by about 70%, start preheating the oven at 170 deg Celsius. It takes about 15 minutes for the oven to properly reach the desired temperature, and your bread should be ready by then.

Before putting into the oven, you can brush the dough with some egg wash. There are many types of egg washes. The one used in this recipe is a mix of egg and milk (ratio being 1 egg to 2 tsp milk). Brush it lightly to just cover the dough (not too much or the bread will burn) and gently so as not to deflate the dough. Best to use a soft brush and brush with care.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. You can check mid-way, and if needed, lay aluminium foil gently on top of the bread to prevent the crust from turning too dark or getting burnt.

When the bread is done, take the bread out of the pan and lay them on a cooling rack. Immediately, while the bread is still hot, brush the tops of the bread gently with whipping cream. Do it a little at the time and you can repeat it after the previous layer has been absorbed into the bread. This gives the bread a nice shine.

Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes. If you can't wait to tear into it, go right ahead and eat it warm. If however, you wish to cut it into sandwich slices, you need to wait until it has cooled completely.

PRINT RECIPE

Asian Sweet Bread / Hokkaido Milk Bread

(recipe and method from www.ricenflour.com)

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 540 gram bread flour

  • 60 gram cake flour (if you have neither flour, you can substitute all with all purpose flour)

  • 10 gram (1 Tbsp) * instant yeast

  • 30 gram (3-1/2 Tbsp) dried milk powder (this is optional, but it adds a really nice milky flavour. I didn't have any, so I omitted it)

  • 80 gram caster sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg medium size (50 gram, excluding shell)

  • 250 ml milk

  • 150 ml whipping cream​

  • additional 20gm flour (only if needed. This is for adding to dough for coating counter and hands while kneading - do not add more as this will cause the dough to harden. I only used a little extra to dust the counter top, but did not add any flour to the dough.)

  • oil to grease bowl and pans

* if you are using non instant yeast, you will need to activate it. Warm the milk to about body temperature (you can test it the way you test milk temperature for babies). Stire in 1 tsp sugar and yeast to the milk gently. It takes about 5-10 mins for the yeast to activate. You will know it is ready when the mixture looks foamy.

Method: Baking the Bread

For more tips on kneading, see my other post on Tips on baking a successful bread.

  1. In one bowl, whisk together bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, and salt.

  2. Then add in the instant yeast and whisk together.

  3. Make a hole or well in the middle of the bowl with a spoon, then add in the slightly whisked egg, whipping cream and the milk.

  4. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon or spatula, then cover the bowl with clingfilm. Leave aside for 20 minutes.

  5. Dust a sturdy kneading counter with a little flour, then pour the dough on the counter and start to knead. You may also use a mixer with a dough hook to knead the flour.

  6. If kneading by hand, you may need about 20 to 25 minutes kneading. Use the windowpane test to check if kneading is done. Dough should be smooth and un-sticky at the stage.

  7. Lightly oil a deep bowl, put the dough in it and roll it around to coat it with the oil, then cover with clingfilm and leave it aside for about an hour to ferment. This is the first proofing.

  8. Once the dough is doubled in size. check if dough is ready by poking your clean finger about 1 to 2 inches into the dough. If the dough does not re-fill, it is properly fermented. Gently knead the dough for about 1 to 2 minutes.

  9. Before you proof it a second time, you may want to shape it first.

  10. To shape into little logs, separate and cut the dough into 12 or 16 pieces (depending on how large your want your logs). I fit 4 logs into a 4.5 inch by 8.5 inch rectangular pan. You may cut larger pieces, and fit 3 logs instead. The shape you decide on is entirely up to you. You can also shape them into balls and fit them into a square shaped pan.

  11. First tug the edges of each cut part under and shape and smoothen into a round ball. Do this for all, then place them under a cling film or damp cloth for about 5 minutes.

  12. Grease your pans with butter.

  13. To shape into logs, use a small rolling pin to roll it into a long shape, then roll it up like a swiss roll. Press the roll down with your rolling pin, turn it quarter-way, and roll it again into a long shape and again roll it up like a swiss roll. Put it in the greased pan. Repeat until pan is filled, making sure to leave a little space in between each log for them to expand.

  14. Now cover the pans with damp cloth and put aside for the second proofing.

  15. Once the bread has risen by about 70%, start preheating the oven at 170 deg Celsius. It takes about 15 minutes for the oven to properly reach the desired temperature, and your bread should be ready by then.

  16. Before putting into the oven, you can brush the dough with some egg wash. There are many types of egg washes. The one used in this recipe is a mix of egg and milk (ratio being 1 egg to 2 tsp milk). Brush it lightly to just cover the dough (not too much or the bread will burn) and gently so as not to deflate the dough. Best to use a soft brush and brush with care.

  17. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. You check mid-way, and if needed, lay aluminium foil gently on top of the bread to prevent the crust from turning too dark or getting burnt.

  18. When the bread is done, take the bread out of the pan and lay them on a cooling rack. Immediately, while the bread is still hot, brush the tops of the bread gently with whipping cream. Do it a little at the time and you can repeat it after the first layer has been absorbed into the bread. This gives the bread a nice shine.

  19. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes. If you can't wait to tear into it, go right ahead and eat it warm. If however, you wish to cut it into sandwich slices, you need to wait until it has cooled completely.

#bread #asiansweetbread #hokkaidomilkbread #softbread

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