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 several times for my nephews (and us of course) and they've always been a SUCCESS! Try them, you won't regret.
The amazing flavor of these chocolate chips Japanese 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 is.
Sometimes though there are not enough words and you just have to try the recipe. Same with this fluffy Japanese milk buns recipe: I can't even describe the 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!
Recipe ingredients for a fabulous milky buns recipe
Here's the list of ingredients you'll need to make these milk chocolate rolls.
- Water roux. It's made (and explained below) with bread flour (or all purpose) and water. This is what make the milk buns super fluffy.
- Bread flour.
- Brown sugar. Feel free to use white sugar instead.
- Dry yeast. I always use instant, so you don't need to activate it.
- Milk and milk powder. Milk powder enhance the milky flavor.
- Egg and high quality butter. For a richer milk bread dough.
- Chocolate chips. Milk or dark chocolate, both ok. You can also omit them, but they give a nice sweet touch to the buns.
These are all ingredients that are easy to have access to, so you have no excuses!:)
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. So let's see (the steps seem a lot, but the process is like any other yeast leavened baked good)
Step 1: Make A Water Roux (Tangzhong Method)
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.
Step 2: Prepare Milk Bun Dough
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.
Step 3: Check If Gluten Has Developed (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 your milk chocolate bun 's dough is ready.
Step 4: Add Chocolate Chips
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 chocolate bun: 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 wire rack to cool down at room temperature.
How Do You Know When To Stop Kneading?
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.
Variations And What to Eat with Milk Buns
With this same milk bread dough recipe you can also make a lot of different ones:
- burger buns (add sesame seeds on top and omit chocolate),
- Hokkaido milk bread (just use a loaf pan instead of forming dough balls),
- milk bread rolls (just form the balls then put them into a circular or square baking pan and bake).
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!). Or you can add cocoa powder to the dough and make them more chocolate-y.
If you omit the chocolate chips, you can serve these with butter and jams, or use them for burgers and sandwiches.
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: this milk chocolate buns recipe won't be the same without it.
If I found this ingredient here in Italy (where sometimes I can't find what I need for my recipes), you in the US/UK can find it too.
Powdered milk - not the one for babies, but the one used in baked goods - can be found in the baking section at the supermarket.
I bought mine, then stored in a jar: it lasted for months.
How to store milk buns
Simply store them, when cooled, into an airtight container or bag. You can freeze them and thaw/warm them up when you want. That's what I always do. They're delish!
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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Japanese Milk Buns Recipe (With Chocolate Chips)
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
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 JAPANESE MILK BREAD! It's soft like a pillow!
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