Matcha-Glazed Swirl Bread

Cynthia Chen McTernan

A Common Table: 80 Recipes and Stories from My Shared Cultures

“The department stores in Japan usually have majestic food halls on their basement level, and the Daimaru department store in Kyoto is no different. My favorite spot there is the Paul Bocuse Bakery, filled to bursting with arrays of every baked good you could imagine, from sticky slices of bruléed custard bread to savory ham-and-egg buns. This was where I found a gem that has stayed with me from my first bite all the way to writing this cookbook—a loaf of intricately swirled bread filled with matcha glaze and draped with the same alluring glaze on top. The bread was shaped like four giant cinnamon rolls cozied together in a loaf pan, but with many, many more lay- ers, all beautifully laced with matcha glaze. I bought a half-loaf, and loved it so much that I convinced my husband to go back with me to buy a full one the very next day. Being thousands of miles away from that fantastic bakery, it was only a matter of time before I felt the need to try to make this at home.”—JBF Award nominee Cynthia Chen McTernan



Sweet Dough

  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups (282 grams) all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large lightly beaten egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Matcha Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream, plus 1 teaspoon more for thinning
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar


Make the dough: the night before, or at least 2 hours before baking, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk just to a boil, 2 to 3 minutes, or heat the milk in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, about 1 minute. (This scalds the milk to kill any enzymes that might prevent the yeast from doing their thing.) If you find a film on the surface of the milk after heating it, just pour the milk through a sieve. Add the butter and stir until melted. Let the mixture cool slightly until warm to the touch but not hot, about 100°F to 110°F. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. If the milk-yeast mixture does not foam, you may want to start over to make sure your yeast is active. (See Note if using instant yeast.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. If you are not using a scale, take care to use the spoon-and-sweep method for measuring your f lour, since too much flour can make the dough dense.

When the yeast is foamy, add the egg and egg yolk, yogurt, and vanilla to the yeast-milk mixture and whisk to combine. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, until all of the flour is incorporated and a wet, sticky dough forms. Knead [the dough] in the bowl until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, use a silicone spatula to scoop underneath the dough and fold it in on itself repeatedly. The dough will start out  maddeningly sticky; sprinkle up to 2 more tablespoons of flour, just as much as needed to knead. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and place it in the refrigerator to rise overnight. Alternatively, you can let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours or so, until well doubled. I prefer a longer rise, to give the flavor time to develop and to split up the labor. The dough should be fine for up to 24 hours.

The next day, or at least 1 hour before baking, line a 9 × 5-inch Pullman loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter.

Make the matcha glaze: sift the matcha powder into a medium bowl. Vigorously whisk 2 tablespoons of cream into the matcha until no lumps remain. Whisk in the remaining cream, then sift in the confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, until the mixture forms a very thick, barely pourable glaze.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out thin, thin, thin, to about an 18 × 24-inch rectangle, making sure to lift the dough and add more flour to the work surface as you go. When the dough is evenly rolled out, reserve 1/4 cup of the glaze and spread the rest in a very thin layer across the dough. Using a pizza cutter, sharp knife, or scissors, slice the dough in half lengthwise to form 2 long 9 × 24-inch strips. Carefully lift one strip and place it on top of the other. If desired, trim the edges into a neater rectangle, then, starting at a 9-inch end, roll the stack into a short, thick log.

Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the log widthwise into 4 equal pieces. Place the rolls, cut-side down, into the loaf pan. (Things will get messy, but do not fear. The rolls are apt to bake up a little lopsided no matter what; regardless of how they look, they all taste the same.) Let [the dough] rise in a warm place until it is boisterously puffy and fills the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the dough is pressed with a finger, it should bounce back very slightly, but the indent should remain.
During the last half-hour of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden-brown on top. Let cool, then drizzle with the remaining glaze.

Note: If using instant yeast, use the same amount as active dry yeast, but mix it in with the dry ingredients instead of adding it to the scalded milk. If you can find SAF Instant Yeast, I have found it to be wonderful and reliable, with yeast goods that are fluffier, softer, and more flavorful than most.


Matcha-Glazed Swirl Bread is excerpted from A Common Table © 2018 by Cynthia Chen McTernan. Photography © 2018 by Cynthia Chen McTernan. Reproduced by permission of Rodale Books/Crown Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


One 9 × 5-inch loaf