2020, WHAT. A. YEAR.
What is going on around the world? Everything: a pandemic, massive protests, a catastrophic oil accident in Russia... oh man!
Sometimes I need to remember good things still exist.
Last week I definitely needed something sweet to cheer me up, so I made my sweet Japanese milk buns with chocolate chips (for the nth time).
I made these last year for my nephews and they were a SUCCESS! Try them, you won't regret!
The amazing flavor of these chocolate chips milk buns
It's always difficult, to me, to describe recipes with words and make you really understand what they taste like.
EVERY SINGLE recipe I post on the blog is food I really appreciated. And I mean, REALLY appreciated.
So, when I share it, I love to describe how amazing it was.
Sometimes though there are not enough words and you just have to try the recipe.
Same with these chocolate chips fluffy milk buns: I can't even describe their flavor, it's too good. But, I'll try.
When I made these for the first time, more than a year ago, I simply used my Hokkaido milk bread recipe and added chocolate chips.
Then last week I tried to increase the quantity of powdered milk.
The flavor changed, for the better.
Adding more milk obviously translated in a more milky sweet flavor. And OMG, what can I say? Again, you just have to try it.
WAY better than those store-bought ones!
How to make milk buns - key steps
Making milk buns with chocolate chips is not difficult, even though there are some steps in which you have to be "careful". But after all it's an easy recipe.
Let's see (the steps seem a lot, but the process is like any other yeast leavened baked good)
Tangzhong method: the KEY to the softness.
First, you have to make water roux by combining water (or whole milk) and flour into a small saucepan, then let it thicken at low heat and let cool down at room temperature.
In my Hokkaido milk bread's post, in the FAQs paragraph, you can read WHY water roux gives softness to our bread (it's called Tangzhong method)
Let cool down.
Now you can start making your milk sweet buns.
- Add dry ingredients: bread flour, fine sea salt, sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer (into bread machine - with "dough" setting), then activate (I use the dough hook attachment).
- Now add warm milk + active dry yeast, half of the beaten egg, milk powder (you can also add this before - you can use condensed milk too), water roux and let knead.
- Unsalted butter (softened, not melted) is added at the end because fat can inhibit gluten formation. Let knead until gluten forms.
The ultimate test: windowpane test
Take the windowpane test to check if gluten network is formed.
You just have to take a small piece of dough, then gently stretch it with your fingers. If it doesn't tear immediately, then it's ready.
The TRICKY PART: adding chocolate chips to the milk buns
- Fourth and last step is adding chocolate chips: let incorporate just a few seconds to prevent them from melting.
I say this part is tricky because the risk is to melt the chips, so you'll end up not having those chocolate "pools" in the final product (Makes sense?)
Let dough rise in a warm place.
- Divide the dough in equal pieces.
Again, pay attention when forming the soft milk buns: be gentle and work quickly (or chocolate will melt). Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
Let rise again until doubled, covered with plastic wrap, lid or damp towel.
- Brush the buns with egg wash and bake in preheated oven.
- Check them after 12 minutes: you want them golden brown, so if they're not, let them cook for 2 more minutes.
- As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush with more milk, then put them on a cooling rack to cool down at room temperature.
Is my dough well kneaded? What is the windowpane test?
The main problem a "beginner" baker may face is over-kneading vs under-kneading. How can you understand if it's the right time to stop kneading?
If you UNDER-knead, the dough will look loose and it will tear because gluten "structure" hasn't formed yet.
If you OVER-knead, your dough will be tough and will tear, this time because gluten network is too tight.
To check gluten development, perform the windowpane test: take a piece of dough, gently stretch it with your fingers. If you manage to stretch it so it's thin and translucent and it doesn't tear, then you can stop kneading.
Same recipe, lots of variations
With this same recipe you can also make a lot of different ones: like burger buns (add sesame seeds), Hokkaido milk bread (just use a loaf pan instead of forming dough balls), milk bread rolls (just use a circular or square baking pan).
You can also add other "flavors": instead of chocolate chips you can use raisins, dehydrated berries or other dehydrated fruit, or nuts (or why not, try savoury fillings, cheese for example!)
How do you make your buns fluffier?
I could say once again, go read my Hokkaido milk bread post, but I'm going to explain it one more time: to make your buns fluffier (but also other asian bread recipes), you should use the Tangzhong method.
Tangzhong, aka water roux, consist in cooking flour and water, so the starches in the flour gelatinize.
When added to the dough, this will create "structure" and "hold" liquid.
While baking this liquid will create more internal steam (and makes buns/bread rise).
To dig deeper into this topic, I recommend reading this post by King Arthur Flour.
What can I use instead of milk powder in bread?
You can omit it (or use condensed milk), but I'm telling you: it won't be the same.
If I found this ingredient here in Italy (where sometimes I can't find everything I need), you in the US can find it too.
Powdered milk - not the one for babies, this is the one used in baked goods - can be found in the baking section at the supermarket.
I bought mine, then stored in a jar, and it lasted for months.
Hope you'll love this milk buns recipe as much as I did!
Do you have other questions?
It's not easy to answer all the questions you may have, so PLEASE leave a comment below and I'm glad to reply! Thank you.
If you make this recipe, please be sure to give it a rating and leave a comment! It would make me so happy! 🙂
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CHOCOLATE CHIPS MILK BUNS
For the water roux:
- 3 tablespoons Bread flour - 25 gr
- 3.5 fl. oz Water - 100 gr
For the buns:
- 1 ⅔ cup Bread flour - 320 gr
- 1.5 tablespoon Brown sugar - 30 gr
- 1 teaspoon Salt - 5 gr
- 1 teaspoon Dry yeast - 2 gr
- ⅔ cup Warm milk at 35-40° Celsius - 120 gr
- 2 tablespoons Milk powder - 10/15 gr or more
- Half Beaten egg - 25 gr
- 2 tablespoons High quality unsalted butter - softened - 25 gr
- ½ cup Chocolate chips - 75 gr
To brush the top:
- Half Beaten Egg
- First: did you know you can BOOKMARK this recipe and others so you can find them more easily?:) Takes seconds: you can log in (also w/ gmail) via that small icon on the right bottom corner.
For the Tangzhong (water roux):
- In a tiny pan, combine water and flour and whisk.
- Place it over low heat on the stove and keep whisking with a spatula, until you get a thick gel-consistency mixture (if you have a thermometer, wait until it reaches 65°C - 150°F)
- Pour it on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let it cool.
For the buns:
- In your stand mixer's bowl, add flour, sugar, salt and activate at low speed (using the flat beater). After a few seconds, add dry yeast and warm milk (ideally at 35-40° C / 95°-104°F).
- Add half of the egg (slightly beaten), powdered milk, cooled-down water roux, and let everything incorporate.
- Add the butter (softened), change attachment with dough hook and let knead for about 10/15 minutes (or until gluten network has developed - read the post to know how)
- NOW add the chocolate chips and let incorporate just a few seconds (otherwise they'll melt).
- Place the dough into a slightly greased bowl, then cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1.5 hours in a warm place.
- After the dough has doubled, gently press it to degas it.
- Divide it into 10 equal pieces and roll them into balls (pay attention not to handle them for too long otherwise chocolate will melt).
- Place them on 2 separate baking trays (so they have "room" to rise), cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven at 180°C (350°F).
- Make egg wash by combining remaining egg and milk, when buns are doubled brush them.
- Bake for about 14 minutes.
- As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush with more milk so they become softer.
- Let cool down onto a cooling rack.
If you liked these chocolate chip milk buns you definitely have to try my HOKKAIDO MILK BREAD! It's soft like a pillow!
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