Recipe Review

Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread Tastes Like French Toast, Which Means I’ve Already Made It Twice

published May 14, 2022
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Credit: Karishma Pradhan

The first time I tried Eric Kim’s gochujang-glazed eggplant recipe from the New York Times, I was hooked. Then, slowly, I began incorporating more of his recipes into my repertoire, each dish as thoughtful, exciting, and approachable as the last. A few weeks ago, when he published a recipe for maple milk bread, I immediately added it to the top of my queue. Eric’s version, inspired by bakery-style milk bread, veers away from the traditional version with a sturdier texture and the addition of maple syrup. Eager to try his rendition, I cleared my schedule for the evening and got to work. 

How to Make Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread

As with other milk bread, the first step in this recipe involves preparing the tangzhong, a cooked mixture of flour and milk thickened into a paste. Off the heat, you stir cream into the tangzhong until smooth. Then, you mix in the rest of the ingredients: flour, maple syrup, egg, salt, and yeast, and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Cover the dough and let it proof until doubled in size. Knead the dough, by hand or in a stand mixer, with a bit of extra flour for about 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky. Form the dough into two tight balls and transfer to a loaf pan. Let the dough rise once more until doubled, then bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. 

Get the recipe: Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread, from The New York Times

Credit: Karishma Pradhan

My Honest Review of Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread

I made this milk bread twice, and I followed the recipe more or less exactly the first time. The second time, I used additional visual cues to guide the process. Flavorwise, both attempts delivered a pleasant, comforting sweetness from the maple syrup. 

In the first attempt, my dough remained sticky after 7 minutes, the suggested kneading time. I continued kneading for an extra couple of minutes, but the dough was still slightly sticky and ultimately yielded a denser bread, likely due to under-developed gluten. 

The second attempt was much more successful. I used the stand mixer to knead the dough for 15 minutes, scraping sticky bits from the side of the bowl and adding a bit of flour every couple of minutes. I started at medium-low speed and increased to medium for the last few minutes. By the end of the 15 minutes, I noted two observations: The dough felt very soft and barely sticky with an elastic texture, and the dough passed the windowpane test (a classic method for determining if the gluten is well-developed enough). The resulting loaf had a fine, tender crumb and lacked the denseness of the first attempt.

When researching this recipe, I noticed a few comments mentioning that the bread took about 60 minutes to cook through instead of the 40 to 45 minutes mentioned in the instructions. Although this is anecdotal, I think it’s interesting that my first, denser loaf took 60 minutes, but the second loaf with well-developed gluten baked in under 45 minutes. 

While the second loaf hit all of the textural and flavor notes, both attempts were delicious. The rich, airy, slightly spongy texture and the sweetness from the maple syrup invoked notes of French toast. Whether you’re a new baker or an experienced one, I recommend trying this milk bread. Breadmaking can be a profoundly satisfying and therapeutic activity, and this recipe is no exception. 

Credit: Karishma Pradhan

A Few Tips If You Make Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread

  1. Use the windowpane test when kneading the dough: Whether you’re kneading by hand or using the stand mixer, use the windowpane test to see if you’ve developed enough gluten. At that stage, the dough should also be no longer sticky — and do note, this may take you much longer than the 7 minutes, but it will be worth it!
  2. Pay attention to proofing: Underproofed or overproofed dough can lead to textural issues. In addition to the timing cues listed in the recipe, you can use the poke test to determine if your dough is adequately proofed. 
  3. For best results, use a thermometer: The bread has cooked through when a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 190°F. 
  4. The bread has a pleasant sweetness: To me, this bread is noticeably but not overly sweet. Eric pairs it with butter and flaky sea salt: an ideal combination. I’ve been eating it with a tart rhubarb jam. But the sweetness could also balance out more savory ingredients, like sharp cheeses or scrambled eggs. I didn’t grow up with milk bread, but we often had white sandwich bread at home. In the evenings, my dad would dip a slice in milk tea and share a piece with me. Lately, I’ve been enjoying the sweet and creamy tea-soaked milk bread as a snack. 

Get the recipe: Eric Kim’s Maple Milk Bread, from The New York Times