MAKES 1 LOAF OR 12 BUNS
For the Tangzhong
100g (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons)milk
20g (2 tablespoons) bread flour
For the Milk Bread
125g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm (110°F) milk
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, plus a pinch
335g (2 2/3 cups) bread flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
55g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1 teaspoon canola or other neutral-flavored oil, for bowl
For the Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Make the tangzhong: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the flour and milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the paste into a small bowl, scraping the sides of the saucepan with a flexible spatula; let cool until warm, 5 to 10 minutes. Texture should resemble mashed potatoes.
Make the milk bread: In a clean or new small sauce pan, scald the milk over medium heat, bringing the milk to a gentle simmer(watch carefully as milk tends to boil over). Pour milk into a small bowl and cool until warm to the touch (about 110°F). Stir in yeast and a pinch of sugar, and set aside until the surface of the mixture is foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and egg. Add the tangzhong and milk and mix on low until shaggy. Add the softened butter one piece at a time, mixing until fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to knead the dough until it is tacky and slightly sticky, 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking, pinch and pull the ends of the dough to form a smooth ball.
Coat a large mixing bowl with the 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the dough to the bowl, gently turning it to cover with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours (or place in the refrigerator to proof for at least8hours or overnight).
Transfer the proofed dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough to deflate it. Pinch and pull the ends of the dough to form a smooth ball.
Whole-Wheat Milk Bread: Reduce bread flour to 250g (2 cups) and add 85g (2/3 cup) whole-wheat flour.
Chocolate Milk Bread: Add 16g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.
Kneading by hand: A heavily enriched dough, like this one, will naturally be on the stickier side. Using an electric stand mixer for kneading will be a lot easier, but it is not impossible to knead this dough by hand. All you need is an extra 1/4 cup of bread flour on standby.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the tangzhong, milk/yeast mixture, egg, and softened butter. Using a flexible spatula, mix everything together to form a shaggy dough. Start kneading with your hands until you have a smooth dough ball, 13 to 15 minutes. Have an extra 1/4 cup of bread flour off on the side to lightly dust the dough and the work surface whenever you find the dough too sticky to work with. Try not to use more than a 1/4 cup of extra flour, though, to prevent the bread from being too dry.
Excerpted from Mooncakes and Milk Bread by Kristina Cho. Copyright 2021 by Kristina Cho. Photographs copyright Kristina Cho. Used by permission of Harper Horizon, an imprint of HarperCollins Focus LLC.
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