If you use a bread maker, please follow the instructions to knead the dough and complete the first rising.
I knead the dough by hand. Heat the milk to about 38°C. Bring the butter to room temperature. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. I used cold cream cheese straight from the refrigerator.
Once the dough is kneaded, let it rise (1st rising).
※ It will take about 50 minutes at 40°C. Please allow the dough to double in size. The increase in volume is important here, not the time indicated, which is just a guideline.
Deflate, then and divide the dough into 16 portions while weighing it. Round off each portion, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
※ Please be careful to not let the dough dry out.
Flatten each ball of dough to deflate it, and round them off into balls with smooth, taut surfaces, Pinch the seams tightly closed. Place the dough balls seam side down in a greased square pan.
※ If you place the dough balls in the four corners first, it's easy to line them up evenly. The pan will get quite full!
Cover with a tightly wrung out moistened kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise again (2nd rising).※ It will take another 50 minutes or so at 40°C. Leave it to rise until the tops of the dough are about 70% up the sides of the pan.
※ Optionally sprinkle black pepper on top before baking. Brush a little milk on the surface before you add the pepper; it will stick to the surface better then.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. When it's done heating up, down it down to 180°C and bake for 19 ~ 20 minutes.
Once baked, drop the tin from height onto your countertop to release the hot steam from the pan. Remove the loaf from the pan. Cool on a rack, then store in a bag.
※ It will not have a pronounced cheese flavor. It will just have a subtle cheesy aroma that fills your mouth. You can always add more cream cheese amount if you like.
Story Behind this Recipe
My grandmother asked me to bake bread with cheese kneaded into the dough. So I created this recipe. It turned out a little bit different from what she expected, but the cream cheese made the crumb very tender.
When I visit my parents' house, I can use their bread maker and it is so easy to bake. But I usually knead by hand at home. Since this dough is soft I find it easy to form. But if you find it too sticky, just flour your hands and work surface.