Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread

You might be wondering: what the hell are you doing putting cream cheese on garlic bread? And what even makes it Korean?

I promise you I’m not a koreaboo, there’s just so many fun street foods and snacks in Korea that I can’t help being inspired by! Not only that, this idea came from one of my cousins who also suggested that I make yaki onigiri last time; honestly, he just suggests whatever he craves LOL but I’m not complaining – the man has good ideas.

From what I gather, this is a recent trendy street food/snack in Korea that involves sweetened cream cheese-stuffed bread that’s soaked in a delicious savory-sweet garlic sauce! Oh man, I’m just salivating writing that and I’ve already made this twice.

It might be weird imagining sweet garlic bread, but I promise you – it’s delicious. Just let people know what they’re getting into before they bite into it, because they might get tripped out expecting something salty and savory (I forgot to do that LOL).

I tried my best to convert this recipe into cups, tbsp, etc…but honestly, going by grams is best. Invest in a scale if you can; a lot of people underestimate the power of exact measurements in good baking!

Kneading bread dough and knowing when to keep going and when to stop is honestly the hardest part of this recipe; it’s the most challenging part of making any bread really!

QUICK BREAD LESSON 101:

Underknead the dough, and the dough won’t have developed enough gluten..which equals low elasticity and results in a dough that breaks easily when stretched out even a little. On the other hand overknead the dough…and it’ll react similarly – the dough will become too stiff to stretch out easily and it’ll tear easily as well.

How you can also tell if you over-kneaded is if the bread refuses to roll out and also refuses to combine with the rest of the dough when you fold it into itself. Basically, under-knead = soft and breaks easily; over-knead = hard and breaks easily. It was hard for me to tell the difference, but that made it easier to distinguish.

Like anything else really, you can’t undo overdoing something, so watch the dough when it’s coming together! The dough will look smooth and bouncy. Test the dough with the window-pane test – when you stretch out a little piece, and slowly stretch it out more, it’ll be slightly translucent enough to see your fingers behind it.

When that’s achieved, stop and don’t knead any further! I used to be paranoid and over knead because the dough would break after I stretched it a ton – you don’t need to do that, just a little piece test will do!

Breadmaking is truly an art form LOL. So if you really need visuals (hell I totally would), you should check out my Instagram @pokethedough to watch my video highlight for this recipe! It’ll help you loads to know what the dough should look like.

Ingredients

For the bread:

250mL (1 cup) milk, room temp

60g (5 tbsp) sugar

7g (1 packet or 2-1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast

500g (3-3/4 cup) bread flour

6g (1 tsp) salt

2 eggs

40g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temp

Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp water), optional

For the sweetened cream cheese:

452g (2 cup, 2 pkgs) cream cheese, softened to room temp

60g (5 tbsp) sugar

60mL (1/4 cup) heavy cream

For the sweet garlic butter:

260g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter

2 bulbs of garlic (16-20 cloves), minced or crushed into paste (I prefer this for a cleaner look)

60g (3 tbsp) condensed milk

2 eggs

40g (2 tbsp) honey

6g (2 tbsp) parsley

Topping:

Panko bread crumbs, optional

Instructions

For the bread:

In the bowl of your mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re kneading by hand), add sugar and instant yeast to the milk.

Mix by hand with a whisk or spatula until dissolved. Add the bread flour, salt, and eggs and mix until it’s all combined (some visible flour is ok).

Switch to your dough hook (or using your hands), knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is supple, smooth, and elastic.

Add the softened butter and knead to combine for about 10-20 minutes (It depends on how long and powerful your kneading is! I crank my speed up to 5-6 in the beginning so the mixer doesn’t over-exert itself for too long). Check to see if it passes the window-pane test – when you stretch out a small piece of dough, it doesn’t break easily and light can shine through it.

Roll and tuck dough under to form a smooth ball. Place in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a moist towel or plastic wrap.

Let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place (I used my oven preheated to the Proof setting, but turned it off after 10 minutes or so).

Poke the dough and the indent should stay. Punch down the dough to get rid of all the air. Knead with your hands for another 3-5 minutes.

Divide in 8 equal pieces. Roll and tuck dough under each piece to form a smooth ball for each one.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.

Optionally, brush with egg wash. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

For the sweetened cream cheese:

In a large bowl, smooth out the cream cheese. Add the sugar and thoroughly mix.

Add the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Put the finished product in a piping bag and set aside.

For the sweet garlic butter sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium bowl. Add in the garlic, condensed milk, and honey.

Add in the eggs and parsley. Whisk thoroughly until combined. Set aside.

Assembly:

Slice each bread roll into 6 or 8 sections depending on how you like them. Make sure not to cut all the way for each cut, but still close to the bottom. We want these sections to still be attached (think blooming onion!).

Pipe in the cream cheese mixture in-between each bread section (I like to go in with a stripe of cream each section for every roll and THEN go back and double up on the cream to make sure I don’t run out before I get to all the rolls.)

Spoon the garlic butter all over each bread roll, until it’s evenly coated – get the insides and bottom as well. Don’t be afraid to get dirty!

Sprinkle the tops with panko if you’d like! (I would highly recommend as it adds to the crunch factor.)

Place each bread roll on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 330F or until you feel the tops are crisped and firm to your liking.

Serve fresh and enjoy!

To reheat, toast it in the oven or toaster oven at 350F for 5 minutes or so; just check on it!