This Hokkaido milk hot cross bun loaf is an ultimate east-west fusion of combining western cultural tradition with traditional Asian bread making technique. The result is a remarkably soft, light and rich loaf that everyone will enjoy for Easter, and any occasion.
I have always loved Hokkaido milk bread for the feather light, fluffy, soft texture. Also known as simply milk bread, if you haven’t tried one, I highly recommend it the next time you venture into an Asian bakery.
The secret to the milk bread is a special roux-like paste called tangzhong, which is traditionally used in China to make buns with a soft, springy texture and tiny air bubbles (New York Times).
Now, use this special ingredient to make our favorite hot cross buns or loaf for Easter or any occasions! When I first come across that idea from Domestic Gothess I think it’s brilliant! The best part is you can easily make tangzhong at home! Just mix flour and water, it’s that easy.
During my trials and experimentation using the recipe from Domestic Gothess, I discovered that I could cut the dough proofing time in half by heating a cup of water in the microwave oven and then quickly placing the dough inside for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
After tasting these squishy soft Hokkaido milk hot cross bun loaf, you will never be satisfied with the ones from the shops again! So soft it melts in your mouth.
|Hokkaido Milk Hot Cross Bun Loaf|| |
For the Tangzhong
- 3 tablespoons bread flour
- ½ cup water
For the Dough
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ⅓ cup fine sugar (caster sugar)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons mixed spice (all spice)
- All of the tangzhong
- 2 tablespoons milk powder
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup softened butter
- 3 oz (90 g) candied mixed peel (optional)
- 4 oz (110 g) raisins
For the Crosses
- Mix together the flour and water in a saucepan until the flour completely dissolves and no lumps remain. Place over medium heat mixing continuously until it becomes a paste like consistency. If you want to be sure, the correct temperature to reach the paste is 149° F (65° C).
- Transfer into a small bowl, cover the top using plastic wrap (place the wrap directly onto the tang zhong so as to keep it from drying out) and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast to one side; the salt, sugar, mixed spice to the other and stir to combine.
- Add the cooled tangzhong and mix with milk powder, egg and milk using hand mixer or stand mixer (about 5 minutes) until the mixture forms a soft, spongy dough.
- Add the butter and mix until combined.
- Continue to mix until the dough is very elastic and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Mix another 5 minutes until smooth. If kneading by hand, it will take twice as much time to achieve a smooth dough.
- Place dough in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and set aside.
- To proof the dough, you can do it in half the time by placing a cup of water in a microwave for 2 minutes to create steam, place the bowl of dough inside the microwave, close the door and leave to rise until it doubles in size (45 min to 1 hr).
- Line an 8.5x4.5in loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Once the dough is ready, knead in the candied peel and raisins until evenly distributed.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide into six equal pieces. Roll each one out into an oval, fold one third of the oval over the middle (from the edges), then the other third over the top to form a long rectangle. Roll it up from one end to make a fat sausage. Repeat with the other portions of dough then arrange them in the loaf tin in two rows of three. Loosely cover with cling wrap and leave to rise in the microwave again until it doubles in size. (You will need to heat up the water for 2 minutes again to create more steam).
- Preheat the oven while the dough is rising to 350 F (180 C).
- Place the flour in a small bowl and gradually stir in the milk until it forms a thick, but pourable paste.
- Transfer the paste to a small disposable piping bag, snip off the tip, and pipe a cross on the top of each bun.
- Bake the loaf on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
- Place a tray on the top rack after 30 minutes to prevent the top from getting to dark.
- Gently heat the apricot jam and water in a saucepan and turn off heat once it starts to bubble.
- When the loaf is read, transfer to a wire rack and gently brush top generously with the apricot jam. Leave to cool completely before slicing.