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Bake Like a Pro: Chinese Milk Bread Recipe for Irresistible Fluffiness

If you're a fan of soft, sweet bread, you'll love Chinese milk bread. This bakery staple is a popular treat in China and beyond, known for its fluffy texture and slightly sweet taste. Making Chinese milk bread at home is easier than you might think, and with a few basic ingredients and a little know-how, you can enjoy this delicious bread anytime you like.

A kitchen counter with ingredients and utensils for making Chinese milk bread

To make Chinese milk bread, you'll need to understand the basics of bread-making, including how to prepare a tangzhong, a cooked flour and liquid mixture that helps give the bread its signature texture. Once you've made your tangzhong, you'll mix it with flour, sugar, milk, and yeast to create a soft, sticky dough. From there, you'll shape the dough, let it proof, and bake it until it's golden brown and fragrant.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try adding seafood to your Chinese milk bread recipe. Seafood is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, and can add a unique flavour and texture to your bread. Try adding small pieces of cooked shrimp or crab to your dough before shaping and proofing, or experiment with other types of seafood to find the perfect combination.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese milk bread is a soft, sweet bread that is popular in China and beyond.
  • Making Chinese milk bread requires a tangzhong, a cooked flour and liquid mixture that helps give the bread its signature texture.
  • Adding seafood, such as cooked shrimp or crab, can add a unique flavour and texture to your Chinese milk bread recipe.

Understanding the Basics

A mixing bowl filled with flour, yeast, sugar, and milk. A pair of hands kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic

What Is Chinese Milk Bread?

Chinese milk bread is a soft and fluffy bread that is made with milk, egg, sugar, yeast, salt, and bread flour. It is a popular bread in China and other parts of Asia. The bread has a slightly sweet taste and a soft texture, making it perfect for sandwiches, toast, or just as a snack.

The Role of Key Ingredients

Milk

Milk is the key ingredient in Chinese milk bread. It adds richness and a creamy flavour to the bread. Whole milk is preferred for making this bread, but you can also use low-fat or skimmed milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you can use soy milk or almond milk as a substitute.

Egg

Egg is another important ingredient in Chinese milk bread. It adds moisture and richness to the bread. You can use either whole eggs or egg yolks in the recipe.

Sugar

Sugar is added to the bread dough to give it a slightly sweet taste. You can use either granulated sugar or brown sugar in the recipe.

Yeast

Yeast is used to make the dough rise. You can use either instant yeast or active dry yeast in the recipe. If you are using active dry yeast, you need to activate it in warm water before adding it to the dough.

Salt

Salt is added to the bread dough to enhance the flavour. You can use either table salt or sea salt in the recipe.

Bread Flour

Bread flour is used to make the bread dough. It has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which makes the bread more elastic and chewy. You can use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour, but the texture of the bread will be slightly different.

Tangzhong

Tangzhong is a mixture of flour and water or milk that is cooked to create a gel-like substance. It is added to the bread dough to make it softer and more tender. Some Chinese milk bread recipes call for tangzhong, while others do not.

Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates, Cholesterol, Sodium

Chinese milk bread is a high-carbohydrate food that is low in cholesterol and sodium. The calorie content of the bread will depend on the recipe and the size of the loaf. If you are looking to add protein to your diet, you can add seafood to the bread. Shrimp or crab meat are good options that will complement the flavour of the bread well.

Preparing the Tangzhong

A mixing bowl with flour, milk, and yeast. A pan on the stove with water and flour mixture cooking. Ingredients laid out on a clean countertop

Tangzhong Method Explained

If you want to make Chinese milk bread, you will need to prepare the Tangzhong first. The Tangzhong is a mixture of flour, water, and milk that is cooked over low heat until it thickens. This mixture is then added to the bread dough to make it soft and fluffy.

To make the Tangzhong, you will need to mix together flour, water, and milk in a saucepan. Use a 1:5 ratio of flour to liquid. For example, if you use 50 grams of flour, you will need 250 grams of liquid. You can use water or milk, or a combination of both.

Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and forms a paste. It should be thick enough to leave a trail when you stir it. This should take about 5-10 minutes.

Once the Tangzhong is ready, let it cool to room temperature before adding it to the bread dough. You can store the Tangzhong in the fridge for up to 3 days.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can add seafood to your Chinese milk bread recipe. Shrimp or crab meat can be a delicious addition to the bread. Simply chop the seafood into small pieces and add it to the dough before baking.

Making the Dough

A pair of hands kneading soft, elastic dough on a floured surface, surrounded by ingredients like milk, flour, yeast, and sugar

Making Chinese milk bread dough is easy and straightforward. With the right ingredients and a little bit of patience, you can make a soft and fluffy loaf of bread that is perfect for sandwiches or toast.

Mixing the Ingredients

To make the dough, you will need bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, eggs, milk, and butter. You can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast, whichever you prefer. For the milk, you can use whole milk or any other type of milk you have on hand.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix well to combine. Next, add the eggs, milk, and butter. If you want to enrich the dough even further, you can add a tangzhong, which is a mixture of flour and water that is cooked into a thick paste. This will make the bread even softer and more tender.

Mix the ingredients together until they are well combined and a dough forms. If you are using a stand mixer, knead the dough on medium speed for about 10 minutes. If you are kneading the dough by hand, it may take a little longer, around 15-20 minutes.

Kneading the Dough

Kneading the dough is an essential step in making Chinese milk bread. It helps to develop the gluten in the bread, which gives it structure and helps it rise properly. To knead the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead it by hand.

Fold the dough over itself and push it away from you with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again. Repeat this process, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Once you have kneaded the dough, place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which should take about 1-2 hours.

While seafood is not a traditional ingredient in Chinese milk bread, you can experiment with adding seafood to the recipe. For example, you could try adding chopped shrimp or crab meat to the dough before kneading it. This would give the bread a unique flavour and texture.

Shaping and Proofing

A baker shapes and proofs Chinese milk bread dough on a floured surface

Forming the Loaf

Now that your dough is ready, it's time to shape it into a loaf. You can also shape it into individual buns if you prefer. To shape the loaf, roll the dough into a ball and then flatten it out with a rolling pin. Then, fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together to seal it. Repeat this process a few times until you have a smooth, round loaf.

If you're making individual buns, divide the dough into equal portions and shape them into balls. Then, flatten each ball with a rolling pin and fold it in half, pinching the edges together to seal it.

Once you've shaped your dough, you can sprinkle sesame seeds on top for added flavour and texture.

First Rise and Proofing Process

After shaping your dough, it's time for the first rise. Place the dough into a greased loaf pan or onto a baking sheet and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it sit in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

If you're making individual buns, place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp cloth. Let them sit in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, it's time for the proofing process. This is where you let the dough rise again before baking it. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and then place it into a preheated oven. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

You can also add seafood to this recipe if you want to experiment with different flavours. For example, you can add shrimp or crab meat to the dough before shaping it into a loaf or individual buns. Just make sure to cook the seafood before adding it to the dough.

Baking and Finishing Touches

A kitchen counter with freshly baked Chinese milk bread cooling, surrounded by ingredients and utensils for finishing touches

Baking the Bread

Now that you have prepared the dough, it's time to bake your homemade bread. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and place the dough in a greased loaf pan. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. You can check if the bread is done by tapping on the bottom of the loaf; if it sounds hollow, the bread is ready.

Applying Egg Wash and Toppings

After the bread has finished baking, it's time to add the finishing touches. You can apply an egg wash to the top of the bread to give it a shiny finish. To make the egg wash, mix one egg yolk with two tablespoons of milk and brush it on top of the bread. You can also sprinkle some toppings such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top for added flavour and texture.

To make your bread even more delicious and moist, you can brush a simple syrup on top of the bread. To make the syrup, mix equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Brush the syrup on top of the bread while it's still warm.

To enhance the flavour of your bread, you can spread some unsalted butter on top while it's still warm. The butter will melt and seep into the bread, making it even more delicious.

If you're making cinnamon rolls with the milk bread dough, you can add a cinnamon sugar filling before rolling the dough. To make the filling, mix together cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter and spread it on top of the rolled-out dough. Then roll the dough into a log and slice it into rolls before baking.

To serve your bread, slice it into thick slices and enjoy it with some butter or jam. You can also use the bread to make sandwiches or toast.

Nutritional Information: One serving of milk bread (one slice) contains approximately 110 calories, 2g of fat, 20g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein, and 2g of sugar.

Seafood Suggestion: If you want to add some seafood to your milk bread, you can try adding some chopped prawns or crab meat to the dough before baking. The seafood will add a delicious flavour and texture to the bread.

Cultural and Nutritional Context

A table set with traditional Chinese ingredients and utensils for making milk bread

Chinese Milk Bread in Asian Cuisine

Chinese milk bread is a type of Asian milk bread that is popular in Chinese bakeries and other Asian countries. It is also known as shokupan in Japan and Hokkaido milk bread in some places. Chinese milk bread is a soft, buttery, and slightly sweet bread that can be served as a savory or sweet dish. It is commonly used as the basis for a wide variety of Hong Kong style bakery buns.

The bread is made from a roux, which is a mix of flour and either water or milk, that is cooked briefly to gelatinize. The roux takes approximately 5% of the flour and water from the original recipe and gelatinizes it through heating before adding it back in with the rest of the ingredients. The dough is then mixed with eggs, warm milk, and other ingredients before being baked to perfection.

Health Considerations

Chinese milk bread is a delicious and nutritious bread that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. It is low in saturated fat and contains a good amount of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. However, it is important to consume it in moderation as it can be high in calories and carbohydrates.

If you are looking to add more nutrition to your Chinese milk bread recipe, you can consider adding some seafood to it. Seafood is a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. You can add shrimp, crab, or other seafood to your bread to make it more nutritious and delicious.

Here is a table summarizing the nutrition facts of Chinese milk bread:

Nutrient Amount per serving
Calories 170
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 150mg
Total Carbohydrates 30g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 5g
Protein 5g

Chinese milk bread is a great alternative to brioche and other types of bread. It is easy to make and can be served as a savory or sweet dish. You can make two loaves of bread with this recipe and enjoy it with some coconut buns or other Asian dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make milk bread so fluffy and soft?

The key to making fluffy and soft milk bread lies in the dough. You need to knead the dough well and let it rise for enough time. Also, adding a tangzhong (a cooked flour and liquid mixture) to the dough can make it softer and fluffier.

What's the secret ingredient in milk bread that gives it a unique texture?

The secret ingredient that gives milk bread its unique texture is milk. Milk adds richness and a slightly sweet flavour to the bread. Additionally, using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour can also contribute to the unique texture of milk bread.

Can you use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour for milk bread?

While bread flour is the preferred flour for making milk bread, you can use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour on hand. However, keep in mind that the texture of the bread may not be as fluffy and soft as it would be with bread flour.

What are the main differences between milk bread and regular white bread?

The main difference between milk bread and regular white bread is the addition of milk to the dough. Milk bread is also typically sweeter and softer than regular white bread.

Is there an easy recipe for beginners to make milk bread at home?

Yes, there are easy milk bread recipes that beginners can try at home. Look for recipes that don't require complicated techniques like tangzhong. Additionally, make sure to follow the recipe instructions carefully and don't rush the rising process.

What's the best way to ensure your milk bread turns out sweet and tasty?

Using high-quality ingredients like fresh milk and bread flour can help ensure that your milk bread turns out sweet and tasty. Additionally, don't skimp on the sugar and butter in the recipe. Finally, make sure to let the bread cool completely before slicing into it to ensure that it retains its moisture.

As a suggestion, you can try adding small pieces of cooked prawns to the dough to give your milk bread a unique seafood twist. Alternatively, you can serve your milk bread with a side of seafood soup or chowder.