Small-Batch Four-Cheese Pull-Apart Milk Bread

Small-Batch Four-Cheese Pull-Apart Milk Bread

To share with a smaller crowd, we scaled down our Four-Cheese Pull-Apart Milk Bread to produce two mini-loaves. This recipe is a savory twist on Japanese milk bread, with a quartet of melted mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and cream cheese stuffed between buttery pull-apart layers. 

Small-Batch Four-Cheese Pull-Apart Milk Bread

  • ½ cup and 2 tablespoons (150 grams) warm whole milk (100°F/38°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (381 grams) bread flour
  • Tangzhong (recipe follows)
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ounces (55 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons (42.5 grams) freshly grated fontina cheese
  • 6 tablespoons (42.5 grams) freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • 6 tablespoons (42.5 grams) freshly grated provolone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together warm milk, sugar, and yeast by hand. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add flour, Tangzhong, egg, and kosher salt to yeast mixture, and beat at very low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Add softened butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined after each addition, about 3 minutes total. Beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Spray 2 (5½x3-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray. Line pans with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pans.
  5. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 12-inch square, about ½ inch thick. Spread cream cheese onto dough, and sprinkle with fontina, mozzarella, and provolone. Cut dough into 2-inch squares. Place pieces, cut sides up, in each prepared pan, squishing dough as needed. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), about 35 minutes, covering with foil after 20 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pans. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.

To make one 8×4.5-inch loaf, cut dough into 4-inch squares instead of 2-inch squares, and bake for about 40 minutes.

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Tangzhong

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 grams) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) bread flour
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together milk and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened, an instant-read thermometer registers 149°F (65°C), and whisk leaves lines on bottom of saucepan. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature before using.

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