Mini milk bread toasts with homemade bread and jams

I just randomly had an epiphany the other day to make mini brick toasts with ricotta and jam. Mostly because I was missing the brick toasts from Sqirl(yes I know that’s controversial to be a fan of that restaurant with all of the moldy jam and recipe-stealing scandals, but you can’t deny that the food is still tasty). During the pandemic, I got into the habit of making milk bread, since I just love the springy texture of it. Fun fact, milk bread gets that texture from what’s called tangzhong. Tangzhong is a mixture of milk and flour that is cooked together into a roux-like paste. By cooking out the flour, it gelatinizes the starch, and creates this springy texture that you might find in things like mochi or boba(tapioca pearls). By doing that to some of your flour, then mixing that into a dough, your end result is a bread that is light, fluffy, but somewhat springy and soft! I honestly love eating milk bread, so whenever I make it at home, I made sure to bake it off in batches of at least 4 loaves at a time so that I can maximize my time spent on making it versus my time spent on eating it.

Since I had make milk bread in considerably large batches, I wanted to find ways to eat it, and doing these mini brick toasts made the most sense! For mine, I garnished them with some seasoned ricotta cheese, and either a strawberry-rhubarb jam, or a blueberry-Meyer lemon-ginger jam. When it came to deciding the flavors, I went with the combination of strawberry and rhubarb because it reminds me of the summer. I just love the snappy texture of rhubarb, and strawberries just remind me of summers going to the Carlsbad flower fields and getting strawberry shortcake by the road. For the blueberry jam, I love blueberry lemonade, I love Meyer lemons, and one of my favorite desserts I have ever made featured blueberry and ginger, because you get sweetness, tartness, and a little spice, so there’s something for everyone in that combination!

Makes 20 pieces of toast:
For the milk bread:
1 packet(2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or honey
3/4 cups milk, in 3 parts
2 cups flour, in 4 parts
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Heat up 1 part of your milk until just lukewarm, then stir into that the yeast and sugar and let that sit in a warm place. In a pot, stir together 1 part of the flour with 2 parts of the milk on medium heat until it forms the texture of a thick paste. Take off heat, and stir in the cold butter and salt until that is fully melted into your (tangzhong) mixture, and the mixture is now just lukewarm in temperature. In a stand mixer, combine and knead together all of your ingredients for 10 minutes, or until the dough begins to cling to the dough hook attachment. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. Then roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface, and divide into 20 equal pieces. Divide your pieces between 4 lined mini loaf pans. Allow the dough to proof in the pans at room temperature for another hour. Brush the tops of the proofed bread loaves with egg yolk. Then bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Cool down the bread before attempting to use for your toast.

For the seasoned ricotta:
8oz ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Whip together until combined. Refrigerate until time to serve.

For the blueberry-Meyer lemon-ginger jam:
8oz blueberries
juice and zest from 2 Meyer lemons
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup water

Bring all of your ingredients to a simmer and reduce while stirring every 5 minutes. The jam should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. Cool down before using.

For the strawberry-rhubarb jam:
8oz strawberries, diced
1 stalk rhubarb, diced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
reserved strawberry leaves
1/3 cup water

Toss berries, rhubarb, sugar, salt, and lemon juice together and allow that to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Microwave the strawberry leaves for 1 minute. Place the leaves into a pot with the water and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain out the leaves. Then add into that same pot the berries and rhubarb, including all of the liquid and sugar that is leaching out from them. Bring to a simmer and stir every 5 minutes. The final jam should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. Cool down before using.

For the toast:
Milk bread
unsalted butter
Seasoned ricotta

Heat up a nonstick or cast iron pan. Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter into the pan. Slice the bread loaves to 1-inch thick pieces. Sear in the pan on both sides for about 2 minutes on medium heat, or until golden brown. Spread on the ricotta and the bread. Optionally, garnish with segments of orange(I just did that since I had blood oranges handy) to finish.

For the blood orange and barley tea palmer:
2 tea bags of barley tea
1 cup hot water
Juice and peels from 2 blood oranges
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

Steep the tea bags in the hot water for at least 5 minutes. Strain and mix with the other ingredients. Optionally add ice or refrigerate if you want it to be colder.

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