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Bite into these braided fluffy milk buns, stuffed with a sweetened black sesame paste!
This braided black sesame milk bread is bakery-quality and will fill up your kitchen with a sweet aroma. Homemade bread is worth every bite and you are able to customize the bread any way you would like. Bread-making is a form of art, and requires patience and practice, but is almost always fool-proof once you get the hang of it. This bread consists of a buttery, milky dough similar to challah, but does not contain as many eggs. The bread is the type of bread you would find in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean bakeries. This dough I am using is the same dough I used for bread rolls.
I began practicing bread making a couple years ago and failed several times in the beginning because I didn’t fully understand the science behind bread-making. I have included a few tips below that are crucial for making successful milk bread:
- Must use lukewarm water: about 105 F. I always had my water too hot, and the yeast died, resulting in dense, flat bread. Room temperature water works too, but warm water helps activate the yeast.
- Always add sugar in the mix when using yeast to activate yeast efficiently.
- Room temperature for rising is sufficient (around 80-85 F) OR in a slightly heated oven (about 80 degrees). I used to kill my yeast by placing it in a warmed oven that was too hot.
- Adding excess flour when the dough initially seems wet is a NO. I’ve dried out my dough several times because I was impatient to knead the dough more, and I added flour which dried the dough. If the dough is sticky, continue to knead and add 1/2 tsp. flour slowly at a time until the dough is smooth. If the recipe is followed correctly, not much extra flour will need to be added. TRUST ME ON THIS! I’ve made bad breads too many times due to this mistake.
- Hand kneading can take up to 30 minutes. Dough must bounce back, feel springy, and pass the windowpane test, otherwise bread will not be as fluffy! I cannot stress HOW important this tip is. It’s a must. Use an electric dough mixer if you have one to save time.
- Patience is KEY. Most of my failures arose because I was impatient. I didn’t let the bread rise for 1 or more hour, I couldn’t wait for my yeast to activate, and I didn’t want to knead until the windowpane test was passed.
- Do NOT over-rise your dough. The dough rise time should be 1 1/2 hrs. MAX for milk bread. If you let it rise too much, the bread will be tough, not fluffy, and will be full of pockets or air, which is not what you want here)
I recommend using an electric dough mixer to save time, but if you knead the dough by hand, note that it will take 3 times the kneading time. This recipe is a large-batch recipe and yields 8 large bread of 10 medium bread. Half the recipe if you want to make 4 large bread or 5 medium bread. I have found that they do freeze quite well, so you may consider batch baking for the future days.
Braided Sesame Milk Bread
yield: 8 large (7 in. diameter) or 10 medium (6 in. diameter) (Half recipe for 4 large or 5 medium)
- 4 2/3 c. bread flour
- 7 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 c. warm milk (just slightly warm, do not overheat!)
- 3 tbsp. yeast
- egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp water)
- sliced almonds to top (optional)
For sesame filling:
- 1/2 c. black sesame seeds, toasted
- 5 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- In a stand mixer, pour the flour, granulated sugar, salt, eggs, butter, warm milk, and yeast into a stand mixer. Put the dough attachment on and knead on low for 11-12 min.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and shape the dough into a ball. Place in a large oiled bowl or container and set aside in a warm (around 80 F) area and allow the dough to double in size for 1 hour or 1 hr. 15 min, if needed.
- In the meantime, pour the black sesame into a food processor and process on high until it’s completely ground. Add the sugar and butter and pulse for 30 sec. or until the mixture is fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Gently flour a surface and pour the dough out. Shape the dough and portion it into 8 or 10 equal pieces. Use 8 if you want to make large bread and 10 if you want to make medium bread.
- To form the bread (WATCH VIDEO FOR CLARITY), take one piece of dough and use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle.
- Spread about 1 1/2 tbsp. or filling on the dough. Do not spread too much on the upper part of the dough. Starting from the bottom, roll up the dough tightly and seal the edges.
- With the cylindrical dough, use your hands to roll it into a longer dough, about 10 in.
- Using a knife, cut the dough directly in half (long way) while leaving about 1/2 in. of uncut dough on top. Make sure the sesame-paste inside is facing upwards. Tightly twist the dough together and seal the dough at the bottom.
- Loop the right dough over the left and loop the left dough over the right into the middle and loop the right dough under the left to form a knot.
- Repeat for the rest of the dough and place the knot onto a non-stick baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper. Cover with a clean cloth or a piece of foil and and allow dough to rise for 15 min. for a second time in a warm area. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 340 F.
- Bake the bread for 20 min. at 340 F on the middle rack.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 min. before eating.
The sesame bread is not overly sweet and has a nuttiness. The dough is soft and fluffy, and great as breakfast or dessert. The bread goes well with coffee or tea, iced or hot. Although the bread is best eaten fresh out of the oven, I find that 1-day old bread stored in an airtight container will re-moisten the bread which gives it a slightly different texture. The bread can be stored in the fridge up to 4 days for freshness or can be stored in the freezer up to 1 month. To reheat the bread, microwave on high for 10-15 sec. Do not overheat!