- all liquid ingredients should be warm, or at least at room temperature (the milk will be ~110°F)
- keep the dough moist
- keep the dough warm
- allow adequate time for the dough to rise
- watch it carefully when it’s baking to avoid undercooking/overcooking
I used to be part of the undercooked fan club, because I love chewy gooey things to no end, but I realize that undercooked bread is just gummy and all-around unpleasant. It’s an insult to the yeast, really, and all the time that was invested in the bread’s rise.
Steam-baked Black Sesame Milk Rolls
adapted from Kirby’s Craving among other blogs; the tangzhong method was developed by Yvonne Chen, who wrote “65 degrees tangzhong”
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup water
For the bread
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk (I always use a little more)
- 130g tangzhong, cooled
- 2.25 tsp or 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 3-7 tbsp butter, depending on your preference (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
For the filling
- 3-4 cups black sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
- good-quality honey, to taste
- pinch of salt
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg
- optional splash of heavy cream
- optional sprinkling of demerara sugar
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, mix flour and water together and whisk until homogenous and no lumps remain.
- Stir constantly as the pot heats up. It will thicken, and as soon as your whisk leaves a visible trail in the tangzhong, it’s done. Make sure to not cook the tangzhong long past this point.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
Make the black sesame filling
- Pulse the black sesame seeds in a food processor (or Vitamix/Blendtec, if you’re so lucky) for about 15-20 minutes, until a smooth black sesame paste has formed, and all its oils have been released.
- With the motor running, stream in your honey to taste, and add a pinch of salt.
- This can be kept in the fridge overnight, or just kept at room temperature if using soon.
Make the milk bread
- Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and active dry yeast in a mixing bowl.
- In a large glass measuring cup, warm up 1/2 cup milk (I always use a little more milk) in the microwave until it reaches 110°F. Whisk in your room temperature egg, and 130g tangzhong.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry in the mixing bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough until a ball forms.
- Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, while the machine is kneading.
- Knead the dough for 20-30 minutes (depending on your mixer), until the dough is elastic and makes a slapping noise. On a Kitchenaid, this would be speed 2 for 20 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, and toss your dough around to lightly coat all sides with oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, and allow to proof in a draft-free, warm spot. Some ovens have a “proof” setting, otherwise, leave it on top of your refrigerator.
- After your dough has doubled in size (allow 1-2.5 hours for this, mine usually takes 2 hours), roll out the dough to an approximately 15′ by 11′ rectangle on a clean cutting board. I find it is unnecessary to use flour, because the dough is usually elastic enough to easily peel away from any surface.
- Generously spread your black sesame filling onto the dough. With the long side horizontal to you, roll the dough into a tight log. Cut with dental floss or a sharp knife.
- Arrange rolls in two 9′ cake pans, lined with parchment paper. I was able to fit 5 rolls in each pan. Allow to rise for another hour.
- Place a large pan (that you’re okay with potentially being warped) on the lowest rack in your oven. Preheat oven to 350°F about 15 minutes before the rolls are finished rising. When the hour is up, brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar, if using.
- Carefully pour cold water onto the pan (or use a water gun, à la Thomas Keller), being careful of the steam burning your face/hands. Quickly place the 2 pans of rolls in the oven.
- Bake for 23-30 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark to ensure rolls are not over baked.
- Best enjoyed warm!
- about creating steam in your oven– I’ve read many ways bakers have done this, from throwing ice cubes into the ovens, to loading a large hotel pan with river rocks and metal chains and spraying water on them with a water gun, to starting off with water in the pan while the oven is preheating. I am no expert and have not tried all these different ways to document all the differences, but I do know you sort of wreck your pans if you bake them in high heat without any water on it. Just a word of caution.