I usually buy Paris Baguette's milk bread to make sandwiches and toast - I love the thick fluffy slices and would buy several loaves at once and freeze them so that I'd always have it on hand. Once in a while though, it's fun to make your own bread since you can not only use the dough to make sandwich bread, but also shape them into buns stuffed with whatever savory or sweet fillings you like.
A few years ago, I finally came across a reliable milk bread recipe for making the Asian style fluffy slices of bread I loved. My main complaint now is that I can't find a pullman loaf pan that is as tall and wide as the kind they use commercially so my sandwiches come out smaller than I'd like - but at least they're tasty! This bread is also great for using in this Grand Marnier French toast recipe as well.
Milk Bread & Chicken Buns
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
makes about 1200g of dough after the first rise - enough for 2 loaves in 9" loaf pans, or 24 small buns
For the dough
- 572 g bread flour
- 63 g all purpose flour
- 250 ml whole milk
- 190 ml whipping cream
- 1 large egg
- 20 g milk powder
- 60 g baker's sugar/fine granulated sugar
- 10 g instant yeast
- 5 g kosher salt
For the chicken filling
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (small dice)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1 TB rice wine
- 2 TB soy paste or soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 TB vegetable oil
- 3 slices of ginger
- 1 beaten egg plus 1 TB water
- 1/4 cup milk or whipping cream or melted butter
- 9" loaf pans (or other size, but will have to adjust accordingly)
- baking sheet pan if making buns
- silicone baking mat if making buns
- pastry brush
*If you are making the buns with chicken filling, make the filling ahead of time so that it is completely cooked and cooled by the time the dough finishes its first rise.
Milk Bread Dough
Combine all the dough ingredients in a bread machine, and set to the dough only function. After the machine finishes kneading, let it proof in the machine until doubled in size (roughly 45 minutes to an hour). If you do not have a bread machine, you can mix the ingredients and knead by hand or use a stand mixer with a dough hook - kneading/mixing until dough is smooth, elastic, and tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers - and let it rise/proof covered in a warm spot in the kitchen instead. After the first proof, you should have about 1200g of dough.
For making loaves of sandwich bread using 9" loaf pans, divide the dough into 6 balls of 200g each. Roll out each ball into a long rectangle with the short end of your rectangle no wider than the width of your loaf pan. Starting from the short end, roll up each rectangle like a burrito, and place three of them into each loaf pan.
Preheat the oven to 360°F. Allow the dough to rise again until they fill up the pan about 2/3 of the way. Bake for about 35-40 minutes if uncovered. If you are using a pullman loaf pan, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the loaf is done, turn it out onto a cooling rack and using a pastry brush, brush it with either milk, whipping cream, or melted butter for a softer crust. I like to wrap the loaf in a clean damp towel after brushing it with one of the liquids above, and let it cool completely like this before slicing and then freezing the bread in an airtight container or ziplock to maintain maximum softness and moisture. When I make sandwiches, I just wrap a couple slices in a damp paper towel and microwave it for about 10-15 seconds and it's as soft and fluffy as the day I baked it.
Cut the chicken thighs into small bite-sized pieces and thoroughly combine with the mushrooms, green onions, soy sauce/soy paste, rice wine, salt, and sesame oil. Let it marinate for about 10 minutes before cooking. Once it is ready, heat up a wok or frying pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add the ginger and stir fry for about 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant. Add the chicken mixture and stir fry until the chicken is cooked through. Drain excess liquid from the cooked chicken and let it cool completely.
Divide the 1200g of dough into 24 balls of 50g each. Roll out each ball to about a 4" circle and place a heaping tablespoonful of chicken filling into each bun. Pinch the edges close to seal the filling inside and place the buns seam-side down on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 360°F and let the buns rise for about 15 minutes while the oven warms up. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg with water mixture over each bun. Bake for 15 minutes and the buns are golden brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately brush the tops of the buns with milk or whipping cream for a soft crust. Cool on a wire rack. If you are not eating them the same day, store in an air tight container or ziplock bag in the freezer. You can reheat them by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and heating in a microwave for about 20-30 seconds.
You can fill the buns with just about anything you like - just make sure it isn't too watery. My tot likes them filled with jam and peanut butter for an easy pre-made PBJ on a busy morning (1/2 TB of jam and 1/2 TB of peanut butter for the filling). You could also do curry beef/chicken buns, or char siu pork fillings for other savory ideas, or fill it with red bean paste to make an-pan for a sweet filling. Whatever filling you do, keep it to about a tablespoonful, and make sure you pinch the seams tightly closed.