Bake

Chocolate Milk Bread

October 21, 2021
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Photo by Bette Blau. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
Author Notes

Chinese-bakery-style milk bread is a versatile and pillowy-soft enriched bread. Its delicately sweet and buttery flavors make it the perfect backdrop for flavorful inclusions like matcha powder, black sesame paste, sweet potato purée, or, one of my favorites: cocoa powder. Even though I'd never had chocolate milk bread until I developed my recipe, it immediately conjured up childhood nostalgia, with a flavor like the chocolatey milk leftover from a bowl of chocolate cereal. A warm slice of chocolate milk bread is amazing with butter or jam, and it makes an excellent partner for peanut butter, channeling chocolate peanut butter cup vibes. If you have any bread leftover, after a few days, it will make the meanest French toast. You’ll soon find yourself using the dough as the base for baked buns, and I also highly encourage you to try the Chocolate Nutella Loaf from Mooncakes & Milk Bread. —Kristina Cho

Test Kitchen Notes

Excerpted with permission from Mooncakes & Milk Bread © 2021 by Kristina Cho. Photography © 2021 by Kristina Cho. Reproduced by permission of Harper Horizon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. —The Editors

  • Prep time 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • makes 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • Tangzhong
  • 20 grams (2 tablespoons) bread flour
  • 100 grams (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) milk
  • Chocolate Milk Bread
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm (110°F) milk
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 335 grams (2 2/3 cups) bread flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 16 grams (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 55 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 1 teaspoon canola or other neutral-flavored oil, for the bowl
  • Egg Wash
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. 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. The texture should resemble mashed potatoes.
  2. Make the milk bread: In a clean or new small saucepan, scald the milk over medium heat, bringing the milk to a gentle simmer (watch carefully, as milk tends to boil over). Pour the milk into a small bowl and let cool until warm to the touch (about 110°F). Stir in the yeast and a pinch of sugar and set aside until the surface of the mixture is foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, 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, then pinch and pull the ends of the dough to form a smooth ball.
  4. Coat a large mixing bowl with 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 least 8 hours or overnight).
  5. 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.
  6. Line the bottom and long sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. (If baking in a Pullman pan, there’s no need to line with parchment paper.)
  7. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Form each piece into a smooth ball. Roll out a piece of dough into an 8x5-inch oval. Fold the long edges of the dough over by 1/2 inch and then roll into a 4-inch log, starting at one of the short ends. Place the dough seam side down in the loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, placing them side by side in the pan. Cover the pan loosely with a damp, clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof in a warm spot until it reaches just above the rim of the pan (or just below the rim for a Pullman pan), 60 to 90 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven to 350°F. To make the egg wash, whisk together the egg and heavy cream in a small bowl. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash. (Omit the egg wash if using a Pullman pan.) Bake on the center rack of the oven until the top is golden brown, 30 to 33 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use the edges of the parchment paper to help lift the bread from the pan, then transfer to the rack to cool completely.

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