25g (1 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
360g (12.5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
20g (0.7 oz) sugar
7g (0.25 oz) instant yeast
7g (0.25 oz) salt
125g (4 oz) milk, room temperature
50g (2 oz) butter, melted
vegetable oil, for greasing
1½ cups finely sliced spring onion (scallions)
1 cup grated cheddar or gouda cheese
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt
Egg wash & garnish:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp sesame seeds
Make the tangzhong first. Whisk the flour and water in a small saucepan then cook, stirring, over medium heat for about a minute or until thick and pasty (it should look like a roux). Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool.
For the dough, place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk, butter, egg and tangzhong. Start mixing on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, then knead on medium speed for 10 minutes or until a smooth dough forms. (You can also knead by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer – I’d suggest kneading for 20 minutes or so.)
Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with oil. Next, lightly dust your benchtop with flour and tip the dough out. Knead a couple of times with your hands to form a smooth ball. Place the dough in the greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, make the filling by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and set aside in the fridge until needed. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and set aside for later.
Use a pastry scraper or spatula to transfer the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a couple of times to ‘punch out’ some of the air. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place one portion back into the bowl and cover.
Divide one portion of the dough into three equal portions. Take one portion and roll it into a rectangle, about 20cm x 10cm (4” x 8”) in size. Take one-sixth of the filling (about 4 tbsp) and spread it along a long edge of the rectangle. Roll the dough over the filling to form a rope shape. Push down on the edges to gently seal. Repeat with the remaining 2 portions of the dough.
Line up the three dough ropes and braid them – it’s much easier to start in the middle, not an end. Once done, pinch and fold the ends of the braided ropes so that they are tucked underneath the loaf. Place the loaf on the lined baking tray. Repeat with the remaining portion of dough in your bowl.
Loosely cover the two braided loaves with cling film or a damp tea towel. Set aside to rise for 1 hour. In the meantime, make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolks and milk.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the loaves are dark golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
– Tangzhong is an Asian bakery technique that originated in Japan. The idea is that you cook a percentage of the flour and water before adding it to the dough ingredients. This technique allows the starches in the flour to absorb more water, which makes the dough easier to knead, encourages a higher rise and keeps the dough soft and moist.
– If you have a steam oven or a microwave oven with a steam function, use the steam for the first 6-10 minutes of the bake. This will give you a puffier, fluffier texture.