A simple enriched yeasted dough, plus classic cinnamon rolls and snowflake bread

cinnamon rolls
snowflake bread

Popping in for the last time this year to share my go-to enriched dough recipe, along with a couple festive ways to use it. While I will forever love my sourdough enriched breads, I know not everyone has a sourdough starter; and even if you do, there are days when you need something a little faster. This is the dough for you! I’ve made it both with a stand mixer and by hand and it works beautifully either way. You can make and bake it all in the same afternoon, or let the dough rise in the fridge for up to a day before shaping and baking. It’s the versatility we all need any time of year, but especially now. I hope it brings you a little joy this holiday season.

Baker’s notes:

  • I’ve tested this dough with a few different flour combinations, and my preference is a mix of bread and all purpose for a balance of rise and texture. You can use all bread flour; the dough will be a little chewier. I haven’t tried with just all-purpose, but that should work as well. I would hold back 10-20 grams of the milk in the final dough to start — you can add it in during mixing if the dough seems dry.
  • If you want to include a whole grain flour such as spelt or whole wheat, I would use 275g bread flour and 50g whole grain flour in the final dough. Depending on your flour, you may need 10-15g additional milk in the final dough — add it in during mixing if the dough seems dry.
  • Nonfat milk powder is one of my “secret weapon” ingredients for a beautiful enriched bread that is extra fragrant, high-rising, and bronzed. I urge you not to skip it — it’s readily available at grocery stores and online. I promise, I have plenty of recipes that use it so none will go to waste.
  • This dough uses the tangzhong technique, which involves pregelatinizing some of the flour by cooking a portion of it with milk. Using tangzhong allows us to add a higher percentage of liquid to the dough, which increases the softness and shelf life of the bread. I add cold milk and an egg directly to the tangzhong so there’s no waiting for it to cool down before mixing the dough.
  • This dough isn’t overly sticky and I never use flour to roll it out. If you have a silicone or pastry mat, you can roll it directly on there; a lightly greased surface works fabulously as well. Just don’t cut directly on a silicone mat, as they’re easily damaged.
  • This bread tastes best the day it’s baked. But with a light rewarming, this bread remains soft for several days after baking. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350F for ~10 minutes or until warmed through. Or you can microwave individual portions for ~15 seconds. I recommend only icing the portions you plan to eat right away.

Classic Cinnamon Rolls and Snowflake Bread

Makes 9 large rolls or one large snowflake bread | Adapted from Baked to Order



  • 25g bread flour
  • 125g milk

Final dough:

  • All the tangzhong
  • 100g milk, straight from the fridge
  • 50g egg (about 1 large), straight from the fridge
  • 225g bread flour
  • 100g all purpose flour
  • 35g granulated sugar
  • 21g (3 Tbsp) nonfat milk powder
  • 7g (1 3/4 tsp if Diamond Crystal) kosher salt
  • 6g (2 tsp) instant yeast
  • 56g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 56g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (½ cup) brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Frosting (for cinnamon rolls):

  • 90 g (6 Tbsp) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 56 g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 68 g (½ cup plus 1 Tbsp) icing sugar

To finish (for snowflake bread):

  • 1 large egg, whisked with a splash of milk or water and a pinch of salt
  • Granulated or coarse sugar, for garnish (optional)
  • Icing sugar, for garnish (optional)


Make the Tangzhong: In a small saucepan, whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens enough for the whisk to leave lines on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Alternatively, if mixing by hand, transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Mix the Final Dough: Whisk the cold milk into the tangzhong, followed by the egg. Whisk in the remaining final dough ingredients.

Knead on medium-low speed until the gluten is moderately developed, about 5 minutes. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter about 14 grams (1 tbsp) at a time, incorporating each batch before adding the next. Turn the speed back up to medium-low and continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test, about 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and supple.

If mixing by hand, follow the same mixing order as above but note that mixing times will take longer. I like to use the slap-and-fold method to knead this dough. (See an example in my instagram highlights.)

Shape the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 60-90 minutes. (Alternatively, allow dough to rise in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24.)

Make the filling: In a small bowl, make the filling by creaming together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt to form a spreadable paste.

To make cinnamon rolls:

Shape, Proof, and Bake the Rolls: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with a rack in the middle.

Lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch (23 x 23-cm) baking pan or a 9- or 10-inch (23- or 25-cm)-round cake pan (preferably aluminum, not glass). Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer to a lightly greased surface or a silicone/pastry mat. Roll into a 14-inch (36-cm) square, doing your best to maintain an even thickness.

Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges.

Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, pinching to seal. Turn the roll so the seam side is down.

Cut into nine even pieces using a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss (my preferred method). Transfer the rolls, cut side up, to the prepared pan, leaving space between each (they will grow into each other during proofing).

Cover the rolls with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof at warm room temperature until the dough is very puffy and nearly doubled, 30-60 minutes. If you poke a roll gently the indentation should fill back very slowly.

Bake until the rolls are lightly golden and register 195 to 200°F (91 to 93°C) in the center, about 20 minutes.

Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting: While the rolls are baking, combine the cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add half of the icing sugar and beat to combine. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fluffy.

Allow the rolls to cool on a wire rack before spreading with frosting. Serve immediately.

To make snowflake bread:

Shape, Proof, and Bake the Bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface or silicone/pastry mat. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, about 180g each. Form each piece into a ball, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and rest for 10 minutes.

Working one at a time, roll each ball into a 10″ round. Rotate the dough frequently to keep the shape round and prevent sticking. Transfer one round to the prepared baking sheet. Spread with about 1/3 of the filling, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. Top with a second round. Spread with another 1/3 of the filling, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. Repeat process with a third round. Finish by placing the final round on top.

Place a 2 to 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (or similarly shaped round item, such as a glass) in the center of the circle to act as a guide. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the circle into 16 equal portions, like the rays of a sun. For each cut, you’ll cut from the outer edge of the center guide to the outer edge of the dough circle, cutting through all four layers each time. I find it easiest to cut into quarters first (at the north, south, east and west positions), then divide the quarters in half to make eighths, then divide each eighth in half to make sixteenths.

To form the star, work with two side-by-side strips at a time. Twist the strips away from each other twice, then pinch the ends together firmly to form a point. Continue until you’ve twisted all the strips; you should end up with 8 points total. Brush the entire surface with egg wash and cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature until noticeably puffy, about 30-45 minutes. Right before baking, brush with a second coat of egg wash and sprinkle the center with sugar, if desired.

Bake until golden and the center measures 195F, about 20-30 minutes. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even coloration. Cool bread on the sheet for about 15 minutes. Dust with icing sugar before serving, if desired.


Bread tastes best the day it’s baked. But with a light rewarming, this bread remains soft for several days after baking. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350F for ~10 minutes or until warmed through. Or you can microwave individual portions for ~15 seconds. I recommend only icing the portions you plan to eat right away. If you do want to bake the bread the day before serving, you can brush the finished bread with melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven — this will help keep it soft and moist for longer.

jam rolls

New York Style Bagels

A few years ago, I got into a bread baking kick where I wanted to bake ALL THE BREADS. There’s something therapeutic about kneading dough and watching very basic ingredients transform into loaves of deliciousness. (Needless to say, I could never be gluten-free.) Although most bread recipes take quite a bit of time (this one included), a lot of that is simply waiting. And waiting is probably the hardest part!

I love making individual-sized breads and rolls, so bagels have been on my to-bake list for awhile. I’m happy to report they were a resounding success — my husband says they were the best bagels he’s ever tasted! Crisp exterior with just the right amount of salt and a wonderful chew — perfect with a schmear of cream cheese. The original recipe for these New York style bagels is from one of my favorite bread experts: Peter Reinhart. His Bread Baker’s Apprentice is one of my favorite cookbooks and showed me it was possible to good bread in a home oven. While there is a recipe for bagels in BBA, I chose to use a version from Epicurious because it made a smaller batch and the process was a little streamlined.

As with all Peter Reinhart recipes, there are a lot of detailed instructions; and you’ll definitely want to read the recipe through to the end a couple times to get a feel for the process. However, it really isn’t too difficult — if you’ve made soft pretzels before, you’ll find bagel-making very similar.


  • I’ve edited the recipe to reflect the methods and timeline I used. Consult the original for other options.
  • The original recipe in BBA suggests high gluten flour as ideal for bagels. I couldn’t find it easily so I just used bread flour. The bagels were satisfyingly chewy, though I do want to try high gluten sometime.
  • The original recipe says the yield is 6-8 bagels. I like mine smaller so I made 12, and they were still pretty good-sized.
  • The original doesn’t call for an egg wash, but after reading comments online I decided to use one to ensure the toppings would stick well.

New York Style Bagels

Adapted from Peter Reinhart via Epicurious | Makes 6 large or 12 small bagels



  • 1 tablespoon (0.75 oz / 21 g) barley malt syrup, honey, or rice syrup, or 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) diastatic malt powder
  • 1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast (Note: I used a heaping tsp of active dry, and it worked fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) unbleached bread flour

Poaching liquid

  • 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt


  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Any mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt


Do ahead

  1. To make the dough, stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.
  3. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

Baking Day

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake the bagels. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 12 equal pieces. (A typical bagel is about 4 ounces or 113 grams before baking, but you can make them smaller [I made 12]. If you make more than 6 bagels, you may need to prepare 2 sheet pans.) Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball.)
  2. Use both hands (and a fair amount of pressure) to roll the ball into a rope about 8 inches long on a clean, dry work surface. (Again, wipe the surface with a damp towel, if necessary, to create sufficient friction on the work surface.) Taper the rope slightly at each end and moisten the last inch or so of the ends. Place one end of the dough in the palm of your hand and wrap the rope around your hand to complete the circle, going between your thumb and forefinger and then all the way around. The ends should overlap by about 2 inches. Squeeze the overlapping ends together by closing your hand, then press the seam into the work surface, rolling it back and forth a few times to seal. Remove the dough from your hand, squeezing it to even out the thickness if need be and creating a hole of about 2 inches in diameter.
  3. After 1 hour, check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (egg wash, seeds, onions, garlic, and so on).
  4. To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water.
  6. Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C).
  7. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Buns (Gai Mei Bao)

buns1My dad works in Chinatown in Seattle, and when my brothers and I were young he’d occasionally bring home a bright pink box filled with Asian bakery treats. These coconut buns (or gai mei bao) were always a family favorite. I’ve been searching for a recipe for awhile, and when I bit into one of these I knew I’d found it. The best part of gai mei bao is the buttery coconut filling, and this recipe doesn’t just nail the flavor — it allows for a generous amount in each bun. These buns are a great introduction to Asian baked goods; and even the non-coconut fans in my life gladly scarf these down.

There are a lot of steps to this recipe; don’t be intimidated! It all comes together quite easily in an afternoon. If you want to split up the work, make the dough on the first day and proof overnight in the fridge. Take out the dough about an hour before you want to wrap the buns so it can get to room temperature. During that time, make the filling and topping.

buns2This recipe calls for a couple unusual ingredients (caster sugar and whole milk powder). I found everything I needed at Bulk Barn, though your local Asian market should also carry them. If you have difficulty locating caster sugar (which is basically superfine sugar — NOT powdered), you can whiz regular granulated sugar in the food processor for 10 seconds or so. This recipe also incorporates the tangzhong method, which involves cooking a portion of the flour with liquid in order to give the bread a longer-lasting soft texture. These buns keep well for a few days (I recommend microwaving a few seconds after the first day), and make a delicious breakfast alongside bacon and a cup of coffee.

(Note: I weigh my ingredients — highly recommended! — when making these buns, but have included approximate US equivalents below.)

Chinese Coconut Cocktail Buns (Gai Mei Bao)

Adapted from Christine’s Recipes
Makes 16 buns

Tangzhong Ingredients (will make a little more than needed for this recipe):

  • 50gm / 1/3 c bread flour
  • 250ml / 1 c water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)

Tangzhong Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, slowly add liquid to flour and mix until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
  2. The mixture will gradually thicken. Once you notice some “lines” appearing in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer tangzhong to a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. The tangzhong can be used immediately once it cools down to room temperature. Leftover tangzhong can be stored in fridge for a few days. (Note: The chilled tangzhong should return to room temperature before adding into other ingredients.)

Bun Ingredients:

  • 160 ml / 2/3 c milk, warmed (any kind will do)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 160 gm / 2/3 c tangzhong (for method, please see above)
  • 6 gm / heaping 1 tsp salt
  • 70 gm / 1/3 c caster sugar
  • 10 gm / 2 tsp whole milk powder
  • 360 gm / 3 c bread flour, plus more if needed
  • 10 gm / 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 40 gm / 1.5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Filling Ingredients:

  • 180 gm / 13 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 80 gm / 2/3 c caster sugar
  • 50 gm / 1/2 c cake flour
  • 60 gm / 4 tbsp milk powder
  • 90 gm / 1 c unsweetened desiccated coconut

Topping Ingredients:

  • 35 gm / 1/3 c cake flour
  • 40 gm / 3 tbsp butter
  • 20 gm / scant 1/8 c caster sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked (with a splash of milk, optional)
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling on top, to taste

Sugar glaze (optional):

  • 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp water


  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk to activate. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and milk powder.
  3. Once the yeast is active and bubbly, add egg and tangzhong and stir to combine.
  4. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients, incorporating with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dough will be sticky at first. Once in a cohesive ball, add melted butter. Knead until dough becomes smooth and soft, yet pliable (~8 – 10 minutes). If the dough is too sticky and will not come together, add additional flour a couple teaspoons at a time until it does.
  5. Cover dough with cling wrap or a linen towel and set aside in a warm area until doubled in size (or proof in the refrigerator overnight).
  6. While dough is proofing, make filling and topping (see below).
  7. Transfer proofed dough to a clean floured surface. Gently deflate and divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Form into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Roll or press out each portion of the dough into an oval shape. Place a portion of filling in the middle of the oval lengthwise. Fold the bottom third up over the filling, then fold the top third down over the other layers (like a letter). Pinch seam closed. Turn bun over and tuck the ends underneath, pinching to seal.
  9. Transfer bun to a parchement lined baking tray with seam facing down. Repeat this step with the remaining dough portions and fillings. Cover with a plastic wrap and let them proof for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 350F.
  11. Lightly brush whisked egg on the surface of each dough. Pipe two lines of toppings and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Baked for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. About 5 minutes before finished, remove from oven and brush tops carefully with sugar glaze, if desired. Return to oven. Remove from the oven and brush on a second coat of sugar glaze. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!


  1. Combine the butter and sugar well. Sift in in milk powder, cake flour, and coconut. Mix to combine.
  2. Form filling mixture into a long tube. Divide into 16 equal portions. Set aside. (I like to put in the fridge while dough is proofing to make it easier to handle.)


  1. Mix the softened butter with sugar well. Sift in the cake flour and combine well.
  2. Transfer into a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Pipe over the tops of buns after egg wash.