I love milk bread! It’s easy to make, soft, tasty, and only takes a handful of ingredients. Nothing beats fresh warm bread, right out of the oven. Whether you’re serving it with soup or stew, using it to make sandwiches, or just enjoying a roll by itself with butter and honey.
A lot of the milk bread recipes I’ve found over the years make full loafs, which is great, but not what I want. I prefer to make rolls. It just works better for me. The other issue I have with milk bread recipes, is that they always seem to call for ingredients I don’t have, and that I wouldn’t get for anything other than the one recipe in questions. So I started making my own. I’ve been tweaking my milk bread recipe for the last year, and I finally feel confident sharing it.
Now, if you’re like me I know you hate long posts with involved stories, and want to get straight to the recipe, the whole reason you clicked on this post. So, with no further ado, let’s get to it!
- 2 cups of unbleached flour (I use whole grain, but unbleached works too)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
- combine flour, salt, and oil
- warm milk to ~115*F
- dissolve honey in milk
- Add yeast to milk, and let sit to activate for 5 minutes
- combine flour mixture and milk, gradually adding milk until consistency is right
- knead dough until it is uniform in texture and sticks to itself
- cover with damp towel and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size
- punch down dough
- separate into six equal parts
- cover with damp towel, and let rise for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size
- bake at 355* for 20 minutes
- brush with egg wash
- bake at 355* for 10 minutes
And Instructions for those of us whole like a more thorough explanation:
You’ll also need a mixing bowl, a cookie sheet, and a couple of clean hand-towels.
Place your flour, salt, and oil into your mixing bowl. In a microwave safe liquid measuring cup add one cup of milk. Microwave the milk on about 50% power for 30 second intervals until it’s warm, not hot. ~112 degrees works well.
Stir in a tablespoon of honey, until it’s all melted. It’ll take a minute, but the honey will melt into the milk. Once it’s fully melted, add 1/2 tablespoon of active dry yeast. Leave that one your counter for 5-10 minutes until it’s nice and frothy.
Pour your milk into the bowl with the flour. I start with about 3/4 of the milk, and add more as needed. You can use a mixing stand if you prefer, but this one is pretty easy to mix by hand. Holding the bowl with one hand, use your other hand to start folding the flour into the milk. As it starts to combine it will get sticky. This is where you use the famous “fold & turn” technique. Fold the dough onto itself, give the whole mess a quarter turn, and do it again. In a couple minutes the dough will be sticking to itself instead of your hands. Once it’s nice and smooth you’re ready for the next step.
Take one of your hand towels and get it wet under hot water. Wring it out as dry as you comfortably can. The towel should be just a bit damp. Cover the dough with your damp towel and place it on top of your stove. Turn the oven on to 200* F to generate some heat. This will help the dough rise without drying it out.. Set a timer for an hour. You can leave it to set for up to an hour and a half with no problems. The dough should be roughly double the size as when you started.
Once the dough has doubled, set your towel aside somewhere clean, you’ll need it again. You can “punch down” the dough now. It’s fun to give it a good hard smoosh, but really all you need to do is knead the dough a few times to get the air out. Once you’ve done that and it’s close to the original size again divide it into six equal parts. If you’re using a non-stick cookie sheet then they can go directly onto the sheet. If you’d like, add some parchment paper to make sure it doesn’t stick and make cleanup a bit easier.
Roll each of the sections until it’s roughly round and even. Arrange them on your cookie sheet, and get your hand towel again. Re-wet it with hot water and wring it out again so that it’s just damp. If your towel is big enough to cover the whole cookie sheet then you’re good to go. Drape it over your rolls and move the cookie sheet to the top of the stove. If you need a second towel to cover everything, then wet a second towel and cover any remaining rolls. This keeps them from drying out while they rise. You’ll want to give the rolls another 30-45 minutes to double in size again. During this time, bump up the heat on your oven to 355*F.
Once your rolls are the right size, remove the towels and place them in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. While your rolls are baking, prepare an egg wash. One egg white and 1/4 cup of water, mixed together. At the 20 minute mark pull out you rolls. At this point, when you tap the bread, it shouldn’t squish in, and should retain it’s shape. It just may not look very bread-ish yet. That’s what the egg wash is for, it helps give the bread that lovely color we all like. Brush the tops and sides of each roll with the egg wash and return them to the oven for 10 more minutes.
Storing Your Bread:
Once your bread is golden brown it’s ready to come out. Turn off your oven, and leave the rolls to cool completely if you’re going to store them. If you’re eating right away, then dig in an enjoy. To store the rolls in a bread box, bread bag, or even just a Tupperware container, they need to be 100% cool. Any heat in the rolls means moisture, which will condense when you place the bread inside a storage container, and result in your bread getting chewy, soggy, mushy, and molding more quickly.
The best place to store bread is a dry, cool, dark place. You don’t want to leave your rolls out on the counter or they’ll get hard in a day or two. You do not want to put them in the fridge, the texture will go all wrong. The best option is a bread box or bread bag you can place inside your pantry. I don’t have either of those though, so I usually will use a few Tupperware boxes. Rolls shouldn’t be squished, and shouldn’t be stacked on top of one another for the best results. Close up your Tupperware tight, and stick it on a pantry shelf. I’ve found that when stored this way the rolls will keep for about a week, and still be good.
I use this recipe for sandwich and burger buns mostly, but they also make good dinner rolls. I live for bulgogi sandwiches on milk bread rolls! Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Share it in the comments!