Milk bread is an enriched bread that uses a lot of milk in the dough (main hydration in the recipe). It uses a little butter and eggs too and often contains more sugar than a regular brioche or a sandwich loaf. Often a roux is involved to make it extra soft and moist. There are several variation out there and this is my go-to same-day sourdough recipe.
This is not something I make everyday. We love artisan county loaves at our house, so naturally, soft enriched bread take a back seat. These type of sweet bread are kind of like once a month thing for me. But when I do make these I tend to bake a couple back to back. And we make french toasts, sandwiches and cheese toasties until the bread runs out.
The most popular sweet bread on my blog is my brioche. If you haven’t tried it, may be give it a go. I am sure you’ll love it. This milk bread is based on my Hawaiian rolls recipe. I’ve made this bread a number of times by just eyeballing the ingredients. Well even though that is my preferred method of baking, it is not very blog friendly. I cannot post the pictures on instagram without getting asked for the recipe so I have finally decided to put this in writing.
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This is a very straight-forward recipe and it is a same day bake!
This is a good question. Most if not all of my sourdough recipes are two-day recipes where you make the dough today and bake the following day. I love that flexibility so I can relax and squeeze in a bread or two in my daily schedule.
I always mention that you can of course bake all of these recipes on the same day. So the answer is, because it is possible.
Baking on the same day is not very different just that you avoid the overnight refrigeration (slow fermentation) and continue to proof at room temperature. So to make this process faster I normally use extra starter/levain in the recipe or use stiff starter instead of liquid. This will help cut down on the proofing times considerably allowing you to bake the final product on the same day.
Always remember that the temperature at which you bulk/proof your bread will affect the timing. So if you need efficiency, make sure to use a proofing box or create your own warm area to expedite proofing. I use my oven for this purpose. You can pre-heat it briefly to about 80-90°F and then place a bowl of boiling water to create a nice warm and humid space. Make sure to check the temperature and refresh the bowl with boiling water every hour or so.
So this bread uses a roux to get that super soft texture. A roux is nothing but flour and milk being cooked to a paste. A roux is used in many cuisines to thicken gravies and sauces. It packs moisture and by adding milk in the form of a roux allows a recipe to have a lot of moisture (liquid) without actually having to deal with a runny dough.
When cooking a roux make sure to whisk continuously and to cook on medium low heat. Lumps are not desirable but a few hear and there won’t be a big issue. If the lumps form you can whisk vigorously or use a spatula to break them down.
Stiff starter is nothing but a starter or a levain with less water than a regular liquid starter. The hydration of a stiff starter is usually lower than 70%. For this recipe used a 60% hydrated starter. When you make the stiff starter make sure to mix ingredients until a dough is formed. This can be ripen overnight at room temperature (about 8-10 hours) It is okay to let it sit a couple of more hours.
This starter can be stored in the fridge for a day or two without a problem. Leaving starter for too long could starve it and may decrease it’s power slightly and also some acidity may occur. But for sweet bread this is not an issue as the recipe calls for sugar and milk.
Gather your ingredients. Make sure they are all at room temperature
Add everything in to a bowl of a stand mixer and mix using a paddle attachment for about a minute or until everything is mixed well
change to a dough hook and start kneading at speed 3 or 4 for about 6 minutes.
The dough will start to get stretchy. This after about 6 minutes kneading. Now reduce the speed to 2 and continue to knead for another 6-8 minutes or until a smooth dough is developed
The developed dough will look smooth and will pull away from the bowl. At this stage stop kneading
Get the slightly sticky dough in to a surface. Wet your hands and perform a few slap and folds. The dough surface should look smooth and not sticky
place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm, draft free space until nearly doubled in size (about 3-4 hours). check the next image
Dough has grown considerably. Notice the air bubbles on top and the sponge like texture at the bottom. If your dough is not there yet, leave for another hour.
Drop the bulked dough on to a floured surface. Flatten and divide into three ( or two) equal pieces.
Pre-shape the dough pieces into nice little rounds, cover and leave for about 20 minutes to rest.
take each dough ball and shape in to cylinders as shown in the image. Make sure to pinch the end so the roll won’t unwind.
Use flour to stop the dough from sticking to the table and the rolling pin.
If they are super sticky, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and that will help with the stickiness. This may need a bit of practice and getting used to. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, the loaf will still turn out delicious.
This recipe is developed for the following pullman pan to be baked without the lid.
Place the dough pieces in a lightly greased pullman pan. Cover loosely and place in a warm place for the final proof
After about 3-4 hours your dough will reach the top edge of the pan. When the dough is just below the edge/rim, start preheating the oven to 350°F
This loaf is baked without the lid
Egg wash and bake the bread in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown or for about 25-30 minutes. Try not to over bake.
You can use just an egg lightly beaten or use egg yolk mixed with a splash of milk to create a thin egg wash. I like the later because it is so thin and easier to get an even coating. Make sure not to drip egg wash along the side of the loaf (a little is okay). The extra egg wash dripping may cook/burn in the oven and will often make the loaf stick to the pan, making the release of the bread a little difficult.
Remove the bread from the pan immediately and place on a wire rack to cool
Once completely cooled, slice and enjoy.
This bread and any enriched bread like this, are best enjoyed fresh. But often we end up serving the bread the following day or day after. And often leftovers are served much later. With time, any bread tend to loose its moisture and becomes dry. To prevent this, you can store the bread in a air-tight container or a food grade plastic bag. But make sure to cool the bread completely else the moisture would get trapped and would make the bread go soggy.
The same theory applies to the leftovers too. Also, don’y slice a whole loaf if you are not going to use them all up. The loaf preserves moisture better when kept as a whole.
The following day, you can lightly heat the bread up or microwave for about 20-30 seconds to get that soft squishy texture back.