I am absolutely obsessed with this Hokkaido Milk bread. After making the same recipe repeatedly, I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the raisins are a classic addition. But what’s something else that’s equally as classic? Matcha? Red bean? No no no…there must be something better.
How about Taro Hokkaido Milk bread?…
Yes! Taro swirl, to be exact. My favorite breads and pastries from the Chinese bakeries I frequented every week growing up, always involved some sort of creamy taro filling. As I’m writing this post, I can almost smell the sweet aroma of freshly baked taro buns, warm out of the oven. Even in college, I found every opportunity I could get to make the drive from Westwood all the way to Irvine to get my hands on those famous oh-so-soft taro swirl buns, a cult favorite from 85C Bakery.
I’d assumed that the purple color in the taro filling that’s used in Chinese pastries, was artificial. I mean, an actual taro root looks primarily white with just tiny specks of purple. Kinda like the thin red and blue threads that permeate a US dollar bill. It’s barely noticeable. However, after steaming the taro and mashing it down, the taro really does turn purple! So…cool…
Making taro filling is pretty easy. All you need to do is steam it, add sugar, and oil, mash it up, and voila! You’ve got a creamy taro filling. It’s just that easy! In this case, I decided to use coconut oil, because I thought the flavor would mesh well with the subtlety of the taro. In addition, I subbed out the butter for coconut oil in this recipe to turn up the coconutty factor that makes this taro bread so moist and flavorful.
After a couple times of making the original Hokkaido Milk bread recipe, I decided to make a few changes. I added a tiny bit more cream and milk to the recipe, which makes the bread EVEN SOFTER. You may have to add a bit more flour when kneading, to prevent the soft dough from sticking to the counter.
Since I’m a visual learner, I’ve put together these step by step shots of how to incorporate the taro into the rolls. You can find the photo guided instructions in the recipe below under Step 4 of the “Dough” instructions.
If you liked my Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe, then you really need to try this Taro Hokkaido Milk Bread recipe. My goal is to make Hokkaido Milk Bread in every flavor imaginable. Any thoughts on what I should do next? Let me know, in the comments below!
Taro Hokkaido Milk Bread
Adapted from Two Red Bowls
Makes 1-9in loaf, Prep Time: About 3 hours
6 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp bread flour
1/3 cup whole milk
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 ¾ cups bread flour
Scant 1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp coconut oil
½ large taro root, peeled (See note below)
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp coconut oil, or butter
splash of milk or water
Combine water and bread flour into small stockpot. Whisk until fully combined. Heat over medium-low heat and keep whisking until lines form. This happens rather quickly, so you’ll want to keep your eye on this one. Remove from heat and pour into separate bowl to cool.
1. Heat milk until lukewarm, about 110-115F. I usually just microwave it for about 15-20 seconds. Dissolve yeast and set aside until foam appears, and yeast is activated. In a large bowl, sift together bread flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine tanzhong, heavy cream and egg. When ready, add yeast/milk mixture and whisk to combine.
2. Make a well into the center of the dry ingredients. Add liquid mixture into the well. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until combined, stirring from the center of the well. The dough will look shaggy at this point, but keep mixing until most of the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface, pulling all the dough pieces together into a ball. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Add the coconut oil or butter to the dough ball, 1 tbsp at a time, kneading until fully incorporated into the dough. This will get messy, but don’t lose faith! Just keep kneading and the dough will eventually come together into a soft smooth ball, about another 5-7 minutes. You can dust your fingers and surface with flour, but don’t add too much as it will harden the dough. Place dough in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1- 1 ½ hours. During the cold winter months, I like to set my oven to 200F, shut it off, and place my dough in there to proof.
3. While the dough is proofing, prepare the taro filling. Chop taro into rough 2 inch pieces. Place in a bowl. Fill a stockpot with water up to 2 inches. Place bowl of taro pieces in the stockpot, and heat over medium heat with the lid on. Allow the taro to steam for about 5-10 minutes or until fork tender. Remove bowl from the stockpot. In the same bowl, add sugar and coconut oil. Mash with a fork until creamy.
4. Prepare a 9” loaf pan. When dough has doubled in size. Remove from bowl onto lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead into ball again. Divide into four equal pieces.
Take one dough piece and roll into about a 4” x 8” rectangle. Take about 2 tbsp taro filling and spread onto the rectangle, leaving about a ¼ inch border.
Width-wise, fold over two halves so that the seam comes down the middle of the rectangle. Roll out slightly, width-wise and length-wise until about 3/8” thick. Roll up from the bottom and place into loaf pan with the seam facing down. Repeat with the remaining three dough pieces. Cover pan with a damp towel and place in a draft-free area until nearly doubled, about another 40 minutes to an hour. Dough is ready when it springs back slightly when pressed down with your finger.
5. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare egg wash mixture by mixing egg with milk. Brush onto dough. Place into oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, rotating once. Bread is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped. Place on a cooling rack. Try not to eat it all before fully cooled.
**Taro Root: To make my life a little easier, I went to my local Asian supermarket and picked up this. It’s a taro root that’s already been prepped and vacuum packed.