We gave Japanese milk bread a savory twist by filling this loaf with a quartet of melted mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and cream cheese. With buttery pull-apart layers, this recipe is made for sharing. Just put it on the table and watch your guests tear off their own piece of downy perfection.
Four-Cheese Pull-Apart Milk Bread
- 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm whole milk (100°F/38°C to 110°F/43°C)
- 2/4 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
- 4½ teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
- 6 cups (762 grams) bread flour Tangzhong (recipe follows)
- 2 large eggs (100 grams)
- 4 teaspoons (12 grams) kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup (85 grams) freshly grated fontina cheese
- ¾ cup (85 grams) freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- ¾ cup (85 grams) freshly grated provolone cheese
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together warm milk, sugar, and yeast by hand. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour, Tangzhong, eggs, and kosher salt to yeast mixture, and beat at very low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Add softened butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next, about 3 minutes total. Beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.
- Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 22×10-inch rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Spread cream cheese onto dough, and sprinkle with fontina, mozzarella, and provolone. Trim ½ inch off each side of dough, creating a 21×9-inch rectangle. Using a pastry cutter, cut dough into 3 (21×3-inch) rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 14 (3×1½-inch) pieces. Stack pieces in 3 rows in prepared pan, squishing dough as needed. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 45 to 50 minutes, covering with foil after 30 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.
- ¾ cup (180 grams) whole milk
- ¼ cup (32 grams) bread flour
- In a small saucepan, whisk together milk and flour. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 149°F (65°C) on an instant-read thermometer and whisk leaves lines on bottom of saucepan. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature before using.