This beautiful scallion milk bread is a hybrid of traditional Chinese scallion pancakes and fluffy Hokkaido milk bread. Fresh green scallions and white sesame seeds create a delicious savory combination in every slice.
Scallion bread buns are the underrated Asian bakery bun. Everyone always goes for the red bean buns or sweet custard buns first. The scallion buns are the ones you pick when you’re like “hmmm, better not eat too much sugar today.”
And when you bite into that fresh, soft bun filled with fragrant scallion and toasted sesame seeds, you remember that this savory bread is amazing and you should definitely eat it more often.
My version of scallion milk bread takes my favorite milk bread recipe and uses the same lamination technique for making traditional scallion pancakes to create beautiful layers. We’ll then roll, cut, and twist the loaf to create even more beautiful swirls and layering.
And no worries – if you know how to roll cinnamon rolls, you have all the skill needed to shape this loaf.
Ingredients for the best scallion milk bread
A couple of ingredients set this bread apart and create a lovely, light texture and rich flavor.
Tangzhong – Tangzhong is a roux made from cooking flour, milk, and water on the stove. Cooking the starches helps create an irresistibly light and fluffy texture in the final bread.
Bread flour – Compared to all-purpose flour, bread flour has extra protein which helps build structure in the dough and create a tall rise. It also absorbs more water, which is helpful for this wet dough. While it’s possible to make this loaf with all-purpose flour, the loaf will not rise as high or have as light of a texture.
Scallions – Chopped fresh green scallions are the star of the show and are layered into the bread. I use one whole bunch for this loaf.
Vegetable shortening – Spreading vegetable shortening helps separate the layers and adds extra richness to the loaf. I like using vegetable shortening because it’s easy to spread over the dough without waiting for it to come to room temperature. If you prefer, you can use softened butter as well.
Salt – Adding a pinch of salt while layering the dough brings out the flavors of the scallions. Don’t forget it!
White sesame seeds – A sprinkle of toasted white sesame seeds on top of the bread helps bring out the flavor you would find at an Asian bakery. So fragrant!
Shaping and layering the dough
I love shaping this dough because it reminds me of making scallion pancakes with my family when I was younger. The techniques we’ll use are all about bringing in layers so you can pull apart fluffy strips of bread coated in scallions.
Steps for shaping the loaf:
- Roll out the dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.
- Spread a thin layer of vegetable shortening over the dough. Sprinkle with scallions.
- Roll up the dough so you have a 15 inch long tube. Then, coil the dough so you have a round piece of dough that is swirled like a snail shell.
- Roll out the dough again into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle.
- Spread a thin layer of vegetable shortening over the dough. Sprinkle with salt and scallions.
- Roll up the dough so you have a 15 inch long tube. Cut in half long-way and then twist the two halves together. Tuck the ends under and place in the loaf tin.
Tips for perfect scallion milk bread
This scallion milk bread is an enriched bread, meaning we’re adding butter, milk, and eggs to the dough. If you’re nervous about baking bread, check out my bread baking guide. It walks you through the different steps for making perfect enriched bread, from mixing to baking. I’m including some general tips here as well:
- Make sure your milk is warm but not hot. Hot liquids can kill your yeast.
- The room temperature affects rise time. If the room is too cold, your dough may struggle to rise. If you find that happening, you can read my guide to speeding up bread proofing.
- Make sure the butter is room temperature so it incorporates smoothly.
- This dough is very wet and sticky from the tangzhong, milk, egg, and butter. It will take a while to knead, so have patience and resist adding extra flour which will lead to a stiffer texture. If you’re struggling with kneading, let the dough sit for 20 – 30 minutes so that the flour can absorb some of the water.
Can I make this bread by hand?
Yes! It’s easier and quicker in a stand mixer, but it’s possible to make by hand as well. In fact, I think the texture comes out even better that way! Please follow the method in my Japanese milk bread recipe. I include certain techniques to help you handle the wet dough.
I absolutely love this recipe and am excited to share this taste from my childhood with you. My favorite way to eat it is as an omelette sandwich with sriracha – so good!
Other Asian-inspired bread recipes to try:
If you make this recipe, please let me know! I always love to see what my readers are baking. You can comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway.
Scallion milk bread
- medium mixing bowl
- Rolling Pin
- 9 x 5 inch baking tin
- pastry brush (optional)
Tangzhong (makes 1/2 cup)
- 3 tbsp (23g) bread flour
- 1/4 cup (60g) water
- 1/4 cup (60g) milk
- 1/2 cup tangzhong (see above)
- 1/2 cup (120g) milk, lukewarm
- 3 tbsp (25g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp (7g) instant or active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cup (325g) bread flour
- 1 tsp (4g) salt
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable shortening or softened butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp milk
- white sesame seeds
- In small skillet or pot, whisk together flour, milk, and water until smooth. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened but is still pourable. It should take 5 – 10 minutes. Your whisk should leave a mark when dragged along the bottom of the pan.
- Pour into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Mix together warm milk, yeast, and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes. The milk should feel comfortably warm to the touch, but not hot, otherwise it will kill your yeast. You should notice the yeast beginning to foam. If there is no sign of activity, the yeast may be dead. Try again with a fresh batch.
- Add flour, egg, tangzhong, and salt to the milk and yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until a shaggy dough forms. Slowly add in pieces of softened butter while the mixer runs on medium-low speed. Continue mixing for 15 – 20 minutes until the dough is smooth and passes the window pane test. Please see notes if you would like to make by hand.
- Shape into a ball and place into a lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 – 60 minutes until roughly doubled in size.
- Grease a baking tin and set aside. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times to remove air bubbles.
- Roll the dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. Spread the surface of the dough with about 1 tbsp of vegetable shortening. Sprinkle with about 1/2 of the chopped scallions. Roll the dough up so that you have a 15 inch tube. Then, coil the tube so that you end up with a round piece of dough that is swirled like a snail shell.
- Repeat the layering process – roll out this piece of dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. Spread the surface of the dough with about 1 tbsp of vegetable shortening. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of salt and the remaining chopped scallions, leaving a few scallions for garnishing the top . Roll the dough up so that you have a 15 inch tube. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut the tube in half length-wise – the knife should be parallel to the tube. Turn the inside of the tube up and twist the two pieces over each other until you have a braid. Tuck the ends of the braid underneath and place the dough into your prepared baking tin. This twisting method is similar to making a babka.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the loaf to proof for 45 – 60 minutes. When you press your finger into the loaf, it should slowly come back about halfway. Brush the top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds and leftover scallions.
- Place in the lower third of the oven and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 – 15 minutes in the tin. Remove from tin and place on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Follow this method for mixing and kneading if you would like to make by hand: https://halicopteraway.com/2020/04/26/japanese-milk-bread-by-hand-no-milk-powder/