MATCHA MILK BREAD TURTLES | WITH CHOCOLATE DUTCH CRUNCH

This recipe was born out of a dream. It all started with a plead by Food52 contributor Sarah Jampel in her article about dutch crunch. She requested for someone to create chocolate bread with a matcha dutch crunch crackle and that request got my wheels turning. I began to picture what this kind of loaf would actually look like. Understanding that a matcha dutch crunch topping would brown and diminish its vibrant green color, I then pictured a matcha bread with a chocolate dutch crunch topping instead. In my minds eye, I could envision this combo having an uncanny resemblance to a turtle. I got to developing the recipe and late that night I dreamt of shaping this matcha bread into little turtle rolls with a chocolate dutch crunch topping for their shell. I woke up Monday morning, May 23rd, to find out through Instagram that it just so happened to be World Turtle Day. Destiny had dawned – these little matcha milk bread turtles were meant to be and nothing was going to stop me from bringing them to life in time for them to be celebrated and make their world debut on #worldturtleday!

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I have always been a huge dutch crunch fan. I went to high school down the street from a bakery that was infamous for its dutch crunch rolls (sadly the owners of this bakery have since retired & closed their doors). Many of my meager high school student lunches consisted of one of those famous dutch crunch rolls with a little pack of cream cheese. Considering my history with dutch crunch, I felt qualified to take on the challenge that Sarah Jampel had put out into the inter-webs. It was as if this matcha/chocolate dutch crunch torch had been placed directly in my hand and it was now my duty to bring her crazy request to life.

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Adding matcha to milk bread dough and cocoa powder to the dutch crunch topping was not the simple answer to this creation, because both matcha and cocoa are naturally bitter and need good amounts of sweetener to counter their bitterness. Not to mention, it would not be good enough for these matcha milk bread turtles to only be seriously cute, they had to be seriously delicious!

The answer to making these rolls taste as good as they looked was white chocolate. Adding a filling of finely chopped white chocolate to the matcha milk bread turtles made all the difference that elevated these sweet rolls to greatness. After all, these rolls had to be something that the whole family could fall in love with. What kid wouldn’t want to enjoy one of these cute little turtles?! I’m 31 and I cannot get over how adorable they are!

A kitchen scale is key to this recipe, so I have included the ingredients in weighed measurements where it matters most. The scale especially comes in handy when it comes time to shape the turtles – ensuring all of your turtles are the same size will mean they cook evenly.

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Shaping them into turtles was my absolute favorite part, I couldn’t help but think back to my childhood days of playing with play dough – and it felt good to feel like a kid again. That brings me to a good point – I believe one of the keys to success in the kitchen is having fun and when you’re having a good time, cooking does not feel like a chore, its a joy.

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I think this is one of the happiest recipes I have ever developed. I mean, look at these turtles, you just can’t help but smile! They are kind of like puppies and babies, its difficult to be anything but happy around them. The added bonus here is that these matcha milk bread turtles are really delicious! If for nothing else but to make someone smile, you should have your hand at making them, even if that someone is you :)

MATCHA MILK BREAD TURTLES

Ingredients

    FOR THE TANGZHONG:
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
    FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 270g bread flour (we use King Arthur Organic)
  • 100g sugar
  • 12g matcha (we use Encha)
  • 5g instant yeast we use Saf Instant Gold)
  • 4g fine grain salt
  • 4g non-fat dry milk powder (we use Now Foods Organic)
  • 70g whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature & whisked
  • 28g unsalted butter, melted & cooled
    FOR THE FILLING, EYES & DUTCH CRUNCH:
  • 90g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 black sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil (we used avocado oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (use white or brown rice flour- not Mochiko sticky rice flour)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

    FOR THE TANGZHONG:
  • In a small saucepan, whisk together the water, milk & flour - whisk until no lumps remain
  • Heat this mixture over medium low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken & streaks from your whisk will appear, this usually takes about 3-5 minutes
  • Remove from the heat & transfer the mixture from the saucepan to a clean bowl - let cool to room temperature
    FOR THE DOUGH:
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, matcha, instant yeast, salt & milk powder in the bowl of your stand mixer
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, egg & the cooled tangzhong
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients & with the dough hook knead blend for a few minutes until just combined (scraggy dough is okay)
  • Add the melted butter & knead the dough for about 7-10 more minutes - it will feel elastic & slightly sticky
  • Knead the dough into a ball shape & place into a greased bowl. Cover & place in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours
    MAKING THE TURTLES:
  • After dough is done rising, weigh your dough & divide it into 8 equally sized pieces (mine weighed about 72g each)
  • Reserve 2 of the pieces for the heads & feet of the turtles
  • Flatten each piece of dough into about a 4-5" circle & add 15g of chopped white chocolate to the flattened dough, pressing the chocolate into the dough. Fold the dough up & around the white chocolate, pressing the dough together to ensure it is well sealed
  • Flip over the dough so the sealed side is facing down - repeat with the other 5 pieces of dough & the turtle bodies are done
  • Place the turtle bodies on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2" in between each turtle
  • Take 1 of the reserved balls of dough & divide it into 6 equally sized pieces (mine weighed about 12g each) - Roll each piece into a sphere & gently pinch one end of the sphere, slip the pinched end under the turtle body & press the body down at their meeting point, repeat until all of the bodies have heads
  • Take the other reserved ball of dough & divide it into 6 equally sized pieces (mine weighed about 12g each) & then divide each of these pieces into 4 small pieces (my small pieces weighed about 3g each) leaving you with 4 small balls of dough per turtle for the feet (24 total small pieces)
  • Shape each of the 4 small balls of dough into an oval, pinching one end of each oval. Slip the pinched ends under the turtle body placing them where the turtle's feet need to be
  • Once all turtles have heads & feet, make the eyes by taking 2 black sesame seeds & place them onto each head, gently pressing them into the dough with a toothpick
  • Cover the completed turtle rolls with plastic wrap & put in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes
  • While the turtles are rising make the dutch crunch
  • In a small bowl whisk together the dutch crunch ingredients until smooth. Cover with plastic & leave to rise while the turtles are rising
  • When turtles are done rising, pre-heat oven to 350F - Stir the dutch crunch topping until smooth & then coat the top of each turtle body with the dutch crunch topping, spreading it evenly with a spoon until all of the topping is used up
  • Sprinkle the dutch crunch coating with sugar & then bake the rolls for 20 minutes
  • Remove from oven & place turtles on a rack to cool for about 10-15 minutes
  • Enjoy turtles while still warm from the oven - this is when they are at their best - otherwise, store in an airtight container & re-heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds

{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Maren June 2, 2016, 1:01 am

    Just Pinned this to my KIDS board…adorable!

    • bella June 7, 2016, 7:39 pm

      Awesome! You and your kids will love making them Maren!

  • Joleen @ Joleen Cuisine June 2, 2016, 11:36 am

    This. is. GENIUS!! I love how cute these turtles ended up looking, and matcha milk bread is always a big plus! So creative :)

    • bella June 7, 2016, 7:38 pm

      Aw, thank you so much Joleen! They were so fun to create!

  • AiPing | Curious Nut June 6, 2016, 2:04 pm

    These are the cutest bread ever. Period. I just want to squish them.

    • bella June 7, 2016, 7:38 pm

      Haha! Thank you so much AiPing! They are super squishy too!

  • Tan Monieq June 8, 2016, 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much Bella for sharing ur recipe,
    I will soon made it for my son’s potluck party at school.

    • bella June 9, 2016, 7:45 pm

      You are so welcome Tan! I hope your son & his classmates enjoy them!

  • Alex Doddridge June 11, 2016, 10:27 pm

    These look great!!!!!
    Is the dry milk powder lactose allergy friendly? Or is there a lactose free alternative at all? :)

    • bella June 12, 2016, 6:57 pm

      You could try using coconut milk in place of the milk, coconut oil in place of the butter and omitting the dry milk powder to keep them lactose free Alex. Let me know if you try it & how they turn out!

  • Carolyn June 13, 2016, 1:53 pm

    This are AMAZING! So creative, they are truly genius!

    • bella June 13, 2016, 3:27 pm

      Thank you so much Carolyn, they were so fun to create and make!

  • Shellie Smith June 15, 2016, 12:54 pm

    Just made these. Adorable except my Dutch Crunch wasn’t paste-like. More doughish. Nevertheless, I punched off a ball, flattened it out and stuck it to the turtle back. It did not crackle like the images above, instead, braking into thirds or quarters. What could be the reason my Dutch crunch wasn’t spreadable?

    • bella June 15, 2016, 5:39 pm

      I am not sure what could have gone wrong for you Shellie. I double checked the measurements just now and they are correct. All I can imagine is that maybe your rice flour was different than what I used. I used superfine white rice flour, but brown rice flour should have worked okay too. If you used sticky rice flour that could have been the problem. What type of rice flour did you use?

      • Shellie Smith June 18, 2016, 8:52 pm

        I used a new box of Mochiko. I wondered if maybe I flubbed the liquid/dry measurements since mine wasn’t spreadable. Just not sure. Making them again tonight so will do my best not to get distracted. In any case, thwey were still delicious, despite my wonky shells. Thank you!

        • bella June 20, 2016, 5:04 pm

          Mochiko is definitely the wrong type of rice flour. Unfortunately its sticky nature will not work for the dutch crunch topping. You need to use white rice flour or brown rice flour for it to work! I hope your second try works out!

          • Shellie Smith June 22, 2016, 1:45 pm

            Aha! I switch out!

  • Praopan June 19, 2016, 8:18 am

    Thanks! I made it yesterday. Everyone said it was too cute to eate :)

    • bella June 20, 2016, 5:03 pm

      Yay! That is wonderful, thank you for sharing!

  • Angel Law July 11, 2016, 1:22 am

    what would be a good alternative to bread flour ?

    • bella July 11, 2016, 3:16 pm

      I think the best alternative would be all purpose flour Angel, let me know how it goes!

      • Angel Law July 11, 2016, 7:20 pm

        Will I need to adjust the quantity of dry yeast and instant yeast?
        And how about milk chocolate instead of white chocolate?

        • bella July 11, 2016, 9:58 pm

          No, you shouldn’t need to adjust the yeast at all Angel. You can absolutely substitute the white chocolate for milk chocolate at the same measurements and it should be fine!

  • Anne July 17, 2016, 12:57 pm

    Hi, i Want to make These for my Little one’s 2nd Birthday but from Reading the ingtedients I felt That 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast Are a lot for just 1/3 Cup of flour? Or is this a very Special dough? Thank You! Anne

    • bella July 20, 2016, 11:13 am

      Hi Anne! It does seem like a lot, but it is for creating the special dutch crunch coating & it totally works! Hope everyone enjoys them at the party!

  • obat peninggi badan tiens November 5, 2016, 4:42 am

    very nice for a snack qualified child. surely all will like the shape of a turtle funny

    • bella November 6, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Thank you so much!

  • Sharon Peterson November 20, 2016, 1:17 pm

    Adorable!! I am a Grandma and my munchkin will love to eat a turtle!’

    • bella November 20, 2016, 5:33 pm

      Thank you Sharon! I hope you guys have fun making & eating them!

  • Karlie November 21, 2016, 4:08 am

    Hello! These are so adorable! I would absolutely love to give these a go but I was just wondering, why do you use two different yeasts? Can they be used interchangeably and what is the difference between them?

    • bella November 21, 2016, 3:49 pm

      Hi Karlie! The reason for 2 different yeasts is really just a matter of time savings & the two different applications. With the rolls themselves, using instant yeast makes for quicker rise times. As far as the dutch crunch goes, you want active dry yeast, because it rises & in this case spreads more slowly for the perfect crunchy topping. If you were to only choose one yeast, I would say to go with regular active dry yeast, the rise times for the bread dough will take longer and you will need to activate the yeast in warm water with a touch of sugar before mixing it into all of the other ingredients. Hope this helps!

  • Azu November 29, 2016, 8:09 am

    I just saw this turtles on Pinterest and they look absolutely adorable! They are super cute and I bet they also taste delicious.

    • bella December 1, 2016, 11:12 am

      Hi Azu! Thank you so much! They are cute & tasty too!

  • Katie November 29, 2016, 3:43 pm

    These are so adorable. I love them!!

    • bella December 1, 2016, 11:13 am

      Aw thanks Katie! <3

    • bella December 1, 2016, 11:17 am

      Aw, thank you Katie! <3

  • Tina November 30, 2016, 11:42 am

    SO great! Just one thing, the dutch crunch melted all over the legs of the turtle! Otherwise such a lovely recipe & concept! Loved it!

    • bella December 1, 2016, 11:15 am

      Hi Tina! Thank you! It sounds like your dutch crunch topping may have been too loose. I have made them repeatedly and never had that problem…also make sure that you leave some space between the dutch crunch topping & the turtle feet before you bake! So glad you enjoyed them! :D

  • Daez December 12, 2016, 4:08 am

    Hello! I only have instant yeast on hand, would that be alright for the dutch crust? Would it stagnate the cracking process? Also, would the amount used be the same? Thanks a lot! Can’t wait to try this recipe! :)

  • Linh December 22, 2016, 12:21 pm

    For the tangzhong , did you use bread flour or just all-purpose flour? I read other recipes and they all seem to use bread flour so now I’m confused.

    • bella December 22, 2016, 11:15 pm

      Hi Linh!

      Whether you use bread flour or all purpose flour, the tzanzhong will work equally as well. Since the milk bread recipe calls for bread flour, using bread flour would be the easiest! But either way, it should turn out great! Hope that helps!

  • Flora December 24, 2016, 3:31 am

    Hi!

    When I saw the photo of these, I instantly bookmarked this recipe so I could make it and today was the day! Unfortunately, the dough and the dutch crunch were both much too runny for me. I’m not sure why. I ended up having to add a lot more flour to the dough and more rice flour to the dutch crunch so that they would turn out okay. Any ideas for why this might be? I’d love to fix these so I can make them without a hitch next time!

    Thanks :)

    • bella December 26, 2016, 12:07 pm

      Hi Flora! I am not sure what could have gone wrong…this is the first time I have heard someone struggle with the flour/liquid ratio. It is a very tested & trusted ratio as I developed this recipe over many tries. So, all I can think is that something may have gotten mixed up when you were measuring…let me ask, did you use a kitchen scale to measure?

  • ami December 25, 2016, 2:19 pm

    I wonder n confuse,can i subtitute whole milk n butterr with another kind inggridients?,because whole milk is expensive in my country…

    • bella December 26, 2016, 12:10 pm

      You could substitute a lighter milk Ami, if whole milk is difficult for you to purchase, as far as the butter goes, coconut oil, palm shortening & even margarine would probably all work just fine too! Let me know how your substitutions work out for you!

  • Maddie January 3, 2017, 3:35 pm

    Hello! First off, I just wanted to say that I can’t get over how cute these are! I am so excited to try them out soon. Is it possible to freeze them after they have been cooked? I live alone, but I would love to keep them all for myself. :)

    Thank you!

    • bella January 3, 2017, 4:57 pm

      Thank you so much Maddie! Well, I have not tried freezing them yet, but I am sure if you wrapped them well & then re-heated them after defrosting that they would still taste great! Let me know how it works out for you!

  • Megan January 27, 2017, 12:34 am

    Just made these for the second time and they turned out great! I added in sweet azuki beans instead of white chocolate and skipped the salt for the dutch crunch as they were a little saltier for my taste. I also added in a extra tablespoon of butter as they tend to dry out quickly in my home environment but super cute and fun! Thank you for the recipe!

    • bella February 1, 2017, 11:34 pm

      I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed them Megan! Azuki beans are a great filling choice! Thank you for sharing! :D

  • Linh February 14, 2017, 11:09 pm

    Can I use active dry yeast in the dough instead of instant yeast? How will that make a difference in the bread?

    • bella February 19, 2017, 9:47 pm

      Hi Linh! You can use active dry yeast, however you will have to adjust your rising time as it will take longer…so just watch until the dough is doubled and you should be good!

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