Brown Butter Scallion Milk Bread Rolls

By Betty Liu

Makes 12 rolls

I think of this as a scallion pancake in bread form. I’ve been making milk bread, which utilizes tangzhong, a milk and flour roux that is the foundation for the soft texture of this bread, for years with a variety of riffs: furikake milk bread, sambal-tinted milk bread, even cinnamon rolls. I came across this particular combination by accident one day. I was making scallion pancakes and had extra filling, so I tossed it in this dough and came up with this delicious combination of fluffy milk bread and fragrant scallions. The browning of butter is an extra step that adds nuttiness and depth, which melds perfectly with the fragrance of toasted scallions. I tend to measure with a kitchen scale for accuracy, but I’ve provided measurements in cups as well.

Active Time: 1 hr 15 mins

Total Time: 4 hrs



  • 2 scallions


  • 405g (3 cups plus 3 tablespoons) bread flour, divided
  • 50g (1/4 cup) sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 5 tablespoons of room temperature butter, plus more for greasing


  • 2 large eggs

1.  Make the tangzhong:

  • In a small saucepan, whisk 24g (3 tablespoons) bread flour with ½ cup milk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until a thickened paste forms, about 2 to 3 minutes (It will look a bit like mashed potatoes). Remove from heat and let cool in a bowl.

2. Make the dough:

  • While tangzhong is cooling, warm remaining ½ cup of milk in a saucepan until just warm to the touch (but not hot). Add a pinch of sugar and 1½ teaspoons yeast and whisk to dissolve. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes until bloomed and a foamy layer appears.
  • Cut 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter into small pieces.
  • In small bowl, lightly beat one egg until homogenous.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 350g (2¾ cup) bread flour, ¼ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 beaten egg. Add the now cool tangzhong and yeast mixture and mix on low until dough is shaggy and is just starting to come together.
  • Add the 2 tablespoons of butter, piece by piece, making sure each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  • Increase speed to medium and mix, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary, until smooth, supple, and slightly sticky, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a work surface and pinch down ends to form a smooth ball. Place inside a large pre-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof in a warm place until doubled in size, 90 min to 2 hours.

3. Make the scallion filling:

  • Finely chop 2 scallions, discarding the hairy ends.
  • In a small heat-proof bowl, place 1 heaping tablespoon of chopped scallions (reserving the rest) with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few turns of ground black pepper.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook 3 tablespoons butter, swirling with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until butter starts to foam. Let butter toast, until it begins to brown and smell fragrant and nutty, 3-4 minutes.
  • Pour onto prepared bowl of scallions.
  • Add 31g (¼ cup) bread flour and mix until a thin paste forms. Set aside to cool. At this point, you can taste this filling and adjust with salt or pepper – this is what will add that scallion flavor to your bread.

4. Shape the rolls:

  • Grease a 13x9” pan with butter.
  • Once dough has doubled in size, transfer proofed dough onto a floured workspace and punch it down.
  • Roll dough into a 13x9” rectangle.
  • With a spatula, spread half of the scallion-butter paste into thin layer onto one half of the dough. Sprinkle with half the remaining scallions.
  • Fold the side without the filling over the side with the filling. Roll again into a rectangle. Repeat one more time, spreading with remaining filling and scallions. Fold in half again and the roll to form a rectangle approximately 13x9” in size.
  • With a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 12 pieces (4 rows of 3).
  • Working with one piece at a time, gather the edges and pull down and pinch together, stretching the top so that it is smooth, and a ball is formed. On an unfloured part of your work surface, roll the balls in a circular motion to tighten them up and create nicely formed balls.
  • Place 12 formed rolls evenly spaced out in your prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until rolls have doubled in size, about 30 to 60  minutes, depending how warm your kitchen is.

5. Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Lightly beat 1 egg with a splash of water to create an egg wash.
  • When rolls are ready, brush with egg wash, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Bake until the tops are golden brown, approximately 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for another 5 minutes. Then remove and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

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