The Fresh Loaf

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Rosemary Pepper Potato Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread

Benito's picture

Rosemary Pepper Potato Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread

I’ve been enjoying using Alan’s starter for my baking here in Florida.  I have made an offshoot and I’ve fed it with whole rye.  For this bake I used the rye offshoot starter to build the levain.  My intention was to make the tangzhong with whole wheat but accidentally used King Arthur bread flour so the whole wheat in this recipe is from the 20% in the stiff sweet levain.  I have continued to use about 15% of the flour from the tangzhong, I suspect that it reduces the rise compared to using less but I’ll need to bake more and see if this change is just related to my fully hand mixing and different flours than I am used to at home in Canada.

Rosemary, pepper and potato together are one of my favourite combinations so I decided I needed to try it in a milk bread.  This one didn’t disappoint.

For one 9x4x4” Pullman pan loaf.




Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76-78ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and whole wheat flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.


If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flours.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated add the mashed potatoes.  Again, knead until well incorporated.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat. 


To develop by hand, melt the butter and add it with the wet ingredients.  Develop the gluten with slap and folds.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 3 hours at 82ºF.  There should be some rise visible at this stage.


You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape.  Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer.  Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.


Prepare your pans by greasing them with butter or line with parchment paper.  


Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into four. I like to weigh them to have equal sized lobes. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold. Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”. Letterfold again from the sides so you have a long narrow dough. Then using a rolling pin, roll flatter but keeping the dough relatively narrow.  The reason to do this extra letterfold is that the shorter fatter rolls when placed in the pan will not touch the sides of the pan.  This allows the swirled ends to rise during final proof, this is only done for appearance sake and is not necessary.  Next roll each into a tight roll with some tension. Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls. This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.


Cover and let proof for  4-6 hours at a warm temperature.  I proof at 82°F.  You will need longer than 4-6 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.


Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.  Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.


Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190ºF, rotating as needed to get even browning. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 10 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack with the oven turned down to 325ºF. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot to keep the top crust soft.


Benito's picture

The crumb, with less whole wheat than usual, is softer and more tender.  Of course the potato helps with that as well.  I love the rosemary and pepper flavour with this bread along with the usual dairy notes from the milk and butter.

My index of bakes.

CalBeachBaker's picture


You've certainly got the Hokkaido Milk Bread down sold. Another fine bake with delicious flavor add-ins.


Benito's picture

Thank you Tony, I’ve been refining my formulas for these loaves over time and making variations.  It is probably the bread we like eating more often as toast for lunch.


Rock's picture

The loaf is beautiful by itself, but that crumb. Outstanding!


Benito's picture

Thank you Dave, that is kind of you to say.


Isand66's picture

You’ve done so many excellent versions of this style you could easily put a book together 😉.  Beautiful crumb and bake as usual!  
Best regards,


Benito's picture

LOL thank you Ian, yes I have done this so many times.  I’m always trying to refine it and make new variations.  I’m not sure anyone would buy my book unless it was free.