The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Milk Buns

Benito's picture

Sourdough Milk Buns

So I’ve discovered that most people prefer white bread to wholegrain, at least it seems that my friends do.  So in planning for a dinner party I decided I’d do my milk bun recipe but using only bread flour and no wholegrain other than the rye in the starter.  They turned out really really well especially when finished with some melted butter and some Maldon flaked salt.


Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth.

Press down with your knuckles to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At 75°F, it typically takes 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.


In a sauce pan set on med heat with about 1.5 cm of water, place the bowl of your stand mixer creating a Bain Marie, whisk the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 5 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flour.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before drizzling or adding in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium.  Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane.  


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 4.5-6 hours at 82ºF.  Aim for about 20-25% rise.


You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape.  Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer.  Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.


Prepare your pan by greasing it or line with parchment paper.  


Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into 12 (you can first divide the dough into 4 equal portions and then divide each of those further into 3 to get 12). Shape each tightly into boules.  Place them into your prepared pan.


Cover and let proof for 6-8 hours at a warm temperature.  I proof at 82°F.  You may need longer than 6-8 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the dough passes the finger poke test.


Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.  Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.


Bake the rolls for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Shield your buns if they get brown early in the baking process. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the buns are still hot and sprinkle with flaked salt.


For 12 buns baked in a 9x13” pan, I think I would increase the weight of each bun to 60 g from 50 g pre-baked.  I’d also increase the pre-fermented flour to 25% to get these moving a bit faster as well.

My index of bakes.


rgreenberg2000's picture

Lovely looking rolls, Benito!  The blisters on the crust give them a really neat look, and I like the salt finish.  I will need to find a holiday dinner to try these out on, though I'll need to make Maurizio's soft SD rolls again, too, as those were a big hit last year! ;)

BTW, congrats on your (semi?) retirement, doc! I think I saw you post about that a bit ago.


Benito's picture

Thank you Rich, so far I am enjoying my retirement.  I will do the occasional locum to help cover vacations, my first will be two weeks this January.  But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy what still feels like a vacation.


Booda's picture

Amazing-looking buns, Benny, especially with the blisters. I've had the same issue as my wife and friends prefer bread made with white flour to whole wheat. Fortunately, my favorite miller, Cainspring Mills, makes a white flour version of my favorite wheat flour, Yecora Rojo, so I still get its delicious flavor. I'll bet your buns were a big hit. 


Benito's picture

Thank you Richard, they went over quite well.  They fermented a bit more slowly than I was expecting and that long fermentation led to the blisters I think.