Yields: 2 loaves
Baking temp: 360ºF/180ºC
Baking time: 40 mins
600 g of bread flour (at least 12~14% protein)
42 g of egg white (approx 4 1/2 tbsp)
7 g of dry yeast (approx 1 1/8 tsp)
168 g of heavy cream (approx 3/4 cup)
190 g of whole milk (approx 3/4 cup)
12 g of unsalted butter, room temperature
18 g of sugar (approx 4 tsp), or 2 tbsp of sweeten condensed milk ***
7.2 g of salt (approx 1 tsp)
5 g of dry yeast (approx 1 tsp)
90 g of sugar (approx 7 tbsp)
50 g of egg white (approx 5 tbsp)
36 g milk powder (I didn’t add this)
12 g of butter, room temperature
40 g of browned butter
Combine heavy cream, whole milk, butter and sugar in a bowl and warm it in the microwave to 110ºF. In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine bread flour, dry yeast, egg white and the warm milk mixture, then knead until smooth on medium speed. You could either now proof the dough in the fridge for 18 to 24 hours, or under room temperature for 1 to 2 hours until doubled. I placed my dough over the warm espresso machine to proof and it took approximately 2 hours for the dough to double.
Once the dough has doubled (or kept in the fridge overnight), take it out of the bowl and punch out the air. Cut the dough into small “bite-size” pieces and return it to the stand mixer with a dough hook.
Add the salt, dry yeast, sugar and egg white (save the butter for later) and turn the mixer on medium. Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic (approx 5 min), then add the room temperature butter. Keep the mixer on medium and work the dough for another 3 min. The dough shouldn’t be sticking to the side of the bowl too much. If it does, add another couple tbsp of flour. Then turn the mixer on medium high and work the dough for another 6 to 10 min. The dough should pull away from the mixing bowl and making “slapping sounds” against the bowl.
When you are done, the dough should be in a state where it isn’t too sticky, but just moist and developed enough gluten that you could slowly stretch it into a thin, translucent film without breaking (see the pictures above). Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and let it rest for 15 min if it was proofed under room temperature, OR 30 min if it was kept in the fridge overnight. During this time prepare the browned butter. Melt the butter in a small sauce pot over medium heat. It will start to foam, then turn brown and smell nutty. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
Once the dough is rested, take 1 portion of the dough (keep the 2nd portion covered in plastic wrap) and divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into an oval shape, then fold the sides toward the center (like folding a letter) and roll it out again into a long rectangle, then curl it up like a snail. Repeat the same step with the 2nd portion and let the dough pieces rest for another 15 min (you should now have 6 pieces of dough, 3 pieces for each portion).
I formed the 2 loafs into 2 different shapes, 1 that’s braided and 1 that’s not. To make the braided shape, roll 1 piece of dough out into a oval shape again. Brush the top of the dough with the browned butter and sprinkle with some sea salt, then roll it into a long log. Repeat the same step with the other 2 pieces, which will give you 3 long logs. Braid the 3 long dough like braiding a ponytail, and set it inside a loaf pan. OR for a traditional loaf, after brushing the dough with browned butter and sea salt, you could fold it again and curl it up like a snail, and set it side by side in a loaf pan.
At this point, I put the un-braided loaf into the freezer and kept the braided loaf under room temperature to proof. To bake the frozen loaf, take it out of the freezer and set it inside a loaf pan in a warm spot. Let it completely defrost and proof until it has expanded to 80% full. This will take several hours.
Preheat the oven on 360ºF/180ºC. Let the dough proof to 80% full (not doubled which will be 100%). This took another 1:30 hour in my kitchen. Brush the dough with egg wash and cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 20 min, then uncover the foil and let it bake for another 20 min until golden brown on the top. The loaf should expand significantly in the baking process.
You could take the loaf out of the pan and let it cool on a rack for 20 min. I personally think it’s a crime not to eat it while it still retains its warmth from the oven. You wouldn’t believe the stringy and chewy texture of this milk toast. It doesn’t need any jam or butter. It’s good enough to be a snacking bread on its own.