Milk Bread Pull Apart Rolls

Milk Bread Pull Apart Rolls

When I saw the 2019 Thanksgiving Issue of Food & Wine magazine, I knew Grist & Toll had to create a 100% whole grain version of their show stopping Pull-Apart Milk Bread Wreath. The tangzhong method featured for making tender milk bread is one we use quite frequently when baking with whole grains, and with great success. This method of gelatinizing the starch in a percentage of the recipe’s flour is a definite friend to whole grain baking. It allows you to increase dough hydration and create a softer, fluffier crumb.  The tangzhong component is very simple; it’s just like making a roux. Keep the heat at medium-low and no need to cook past the point when the mixture thickens and looks glossy.

For my test batches I created a miller’s blend of flour, using Hard White, Red Fife and Einkorn. Hard White wheat keeps the crumb mellow and golden while the Red Fife adds a nutty sweetness. Since this is a milk bread recipe with 3 dairy components (milk, sour cream and butter), a little bit of Einkorn with its malted milk powder flavor and velvety texture is definitely called for. If you don’t have Einkorn, just substitute another whole grain flour for the 80 grams. It’s just there to add a little twinkle.

This is a commercial yeast recipe, but if you’d like to incorporate sourdough, we highly recommend the Buckwheat Milk Bread from Sarah Owens’ book Toast & Jam. It was the starting point for our formula.

*A note on dividing and shaping: we have included instructions for creating the look of a wreath, as directed in the magazine. However, you can feel free to make monkey bread instead. If you’d rather do that, 30 grams is a great size for the little dough balls. You can roll them and coat them in the melted butter then place in your prepared tube pan.

Milk Bread Pull Apart Rolls Recipe

Yield = 1 large Tube Pan

Serves 8-10


45g G&T Whole Grain Flour, such as Hard White, Hard Red or Spelt
115g water
115g whole milk

280g whole milk (warm)
60g honey
2¼ tsp Active Dry Yeast (1 pkg)
2 large eggs
50g sour cream
630g G&T Whole Grain Flour *we used 315g Hard White + 315g Red Fife
80g Einkorn
85g unsalted butter, softened, plus 4 Tbsp melted for brushing or rolling
17g kosher salt (dissolved in 15g water)
Optional additional melted butter for brushing after baking and flaky salt for sprinkling


Make Tangzhong:

  1. Measure 45g Hard White flour into a small saucepan. Slowly whisk in water and milk so there are no lumps.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and is smooth and glossy, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Make Dough & Bake:

  1. Measure Milk and Honey in a glass liquid measuring cup. Microwave about 25 seconds to warm. Whisk in yeast and let sit until foamy and active, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk sour cream and eggs. Add cooled Tangzhong and milk/yeast mixture and whisk everything together.
  3. Add all flours and mix by hand to coat all flour and create a sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Place bowl with dough on mixer and attach dough hook. Pour salt/water over dough and mix on low to incorporate. Add the 85g softened butter 1 Tbsp at a time until fully mixed in and then raise speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until a silky dough comes together.
  5. Cover again and let proof until doubled in size, about 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 min.
  6. Prepare tube pan for baking by buttering or spraying with nonstick spray. You can also line with parchment for extra insurance. Set aside.
  7. Divide dough evenly into 3 pieces. Cover and bench rest 15 minutes. Melt remaining 4 Tbsp butter.
  8. Roll and Cut: Gently stretch and flatten on piece of dough into a rectangular shape. Roll into a roughly 16”x12” rectangle. Brush surface with 1/3 of melted butter. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 6 rectangles. Stack rectangles on top of each other. Repeat with remaining dough. Arrange stacks in prepared tube pan, standing up like little books, allowing gaps between dough pieces.
  9. Cover pan and final proof until dough begins to crest the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325F. Uncover and bake until puffed and browned, about 30-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes. Turn out onto a serving platter and brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaky salt.
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