I’ve never ran a marathon before and I don’t really see myself completing one EVER. But after a month of constant workshops I think I can imagine what running one would feel like. Okay maybe a half marathon. At least a 10k! Each weekend for the last month I’ve been practicing my public speaking skills and praying to the dumpling gods that my dough was going to be workable that day. We went up all the way to Sea Ranch and back into the city, lugging bins and SO MANY tote bags filled with essentially a pop up dumpling restaurant. I haven’t had a gym membership since I left my full time job, but I’ve been making up for it by carrying that damn cooler everywhere and standing for hours. I can’t tell if that’s why my back hurts or if I’m finally transitioning into my grandma self.
I’m now on a little dumpling hiatus. My next workshop is not until August 10th, but you should totally buy your tickets now! It’s going to be a wonton party! In the meantime I’m going to spend some quality time with bread dough and work on some easy week night meals! My pleating fingers could use a break and our freezer is literally bursting at the seams with dumplings from recipe testing and workshop leftovers. Someone come over and help me eat all of them! Oh, yeah! Reuben’s parent’s are coming into town this week! So I’ll have some extra taste testers and bellies to fill with dumplings!
I better get working on their welcome treat! Should it be bread???! Milk bread is without a doubt my favorite bread. It probably was before and I never officially declared it until now. Close second is an excellent sourdough, but I could eat milk bread all day everyday. There is something so lovely about it’s airiness and softness that other breads just don’t compare. Challah? Brioche? Maybe. Those breads are like cousins to the milk bread. I haven’t done a side by side comparison… yet. But I’m pretty sure MB would come out on top!
There are a whole bunch of ways to make milk bread. There is the tangzhong method, which requires you to create a quick started by cooking flour and water into a paste. I used in this recipe. And some people like to use dry milk powder in place of some of the actual dairy - planning on trying out that method soon! I’ve grown super fond of the recipe I’m sharing today because you literally throw all the dough ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer, walk away for 15 minutes while it does all the work for you, and that’s pretty much it! Easy peasy. Flavor-wise, it’s pretty comparable to other methods I’ve tried. However, the key to a better bread flavor is to allow your dough to rest longer. You can either let the dough rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours or pop it in the fridge overnight for it to cold ferment. The result is a bread that tastes less yeasty and has a softer and fluffier texture.
Once you’ve mastered the art of milk bread, the world of flavor combinations is limitless! Today I’m sharing a version filled with cheese and spicy sambal. Are you drooling yet?! Cheese and sambal sound like an unlikely couple, but if you think about it, sambal is just a spicy chili and garlic paste that’s quite similar to Calabrian chilis. Italians pair Calabrian chilis with cheese and carbs all the time! So it’s not surprising that when you roll milk bread dough up with cheese and sambal it ends up tasting like an amazing spicy pizza bread. I’m obsessed with it. The best part is tearing off a chunk while it’s still warm and slathering on some salted butter. OMG. I want to make another one now! Imagine an avocado toast or and egg in a hole using this bread! WOW. I wish I thought of that sooner! Hurry! Bake a loaf and test those carby ideas for me : )
Cheesy Sambal Milk Bread
makes 2 loaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
1 package of instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sambal
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese + more for topping
to make the buns:
Combine heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cornstarch, flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of your standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix at medium speed (speed setting 4 for KitchenAid) for 15 minutes until a smooth and slightly sticky dough is formed. Stop to scrape down the sides every few minutes. Once dough is form, place in a large bowl lightly greased with oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight, until the dough has doubled.
Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper.
Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Take one piece of dough and roll it out into a roughly 5”x7” rectangle. Spread 1 tablespoon of sambal on the dough, keeping a 1/2” clean border around the edges. Sprinkle some cheese on the sambal. Fold both the 7” long edges over towards the center and roll the dough into a log. See photos above. Place log in the loaf pan. Repeat process with remaining pieces of dough until each loaf pan is fill with 4 logs. Cover loaves with a damp kitchen towel and allow to proof one last time for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Brush the tops of the loaves with milk and sprinkle on or grate a bit of cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the tops are deeply golden brown.
Remove the loaves from the oven. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to allow to fully cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy with a slice of butter or plain as is!