Many of you might have noticed that I love flour-based dishes and scallions are often used to spice them up. Today I’m very excited to add my newly created recipe to this family: Oven Baked Scallion Bread (烤葱油饼). Crunchy on the outside and fluffy soft in the middle, this tasty bread is super easy to make!
Inspired by Chinese scallion pancakes
Have you heard of or eaten Cong You Bing/葱油饼, aka Chinese Scallion Pancakes? It’s a type of pan-fried, layered, savoury flatbread made of unleavened dough (It doesn’t share any similarity with western pancakes so I don’t know why it’s named this way in English). Flaky, chewy and nicely seasoned, it’s one of the most popular Chinese staple foods.
Inspired by Cong You Bing, I’ve already shared a recipe for pan-fried, leaven version of scallion flatbread on the blog. Recently I started to bake this yeast version in the oven as we love crunchy crusts in our Red House. Another exciting thing about this new recipe is that I’ve developed a new method to shape the bread. The result is fantastic! Don’t you just love the swirl and layers?
A very simple dough recipe
Unlike some types of bread which require special flour, particular kneading and proofing techniques, it’s effortless and foolproof to make the dough for my scallion bread. If you find baking bread intimidating, give this recipe a try.
What type of flour
In many of my flour-based recipes, I suggest that a certain type of flour is preferable to others. This is not the case for my scallion bread. All types of white flour work well. The decision rests entirely on your preference for the final texture of the bread.
- All-purpose flour is listed first in my recipe as it’s the most accessible type.
- Low gluten flour like cake flour/bao flour results in a softer, fluffier texture.
- Whereas bread produced from bread flour, which has a high gluten level, is usually chewier.
- Wish to make it healthier? Please feel free to replace part of the white flour with wholemeal flour (I suggest no more than 30% of the total weight).
Since different types of flour have different liquid absorption ability, you may need to slightly adjust the water volume suggested in my recipe. Please refer to my tutorial video in the recipe card below to get an idea of the dough texture. It should be smooth, medium-soft and non-sticky.
Which yeast to use
Any yeast works! I usually use instant dry yeast which comes as tiny granules that can be directly mixed with other ingredients. Active dry yeast is a little bigger and it needs to be dissolved in lukewarm water before mixing with other ingredients.
Shop bought fresh yeast cubes or homemade sourdough starter works well too. Just follow the normal flour-yeast ratio for other types of bread.
How to knead & rest
No extended, intensive kneading required for my scallion bread. The goal is to simply combine all the ingredients and form a reasonably smooth dough. You may achieve the goal either by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- If using hands: After coarsely combining all the ingredients, I suggest you leave the dough to rest for 10 mins or so. Then you will find it very easy to knead it to a smooth texture.
- If using a stand mixer: Add all the ingredients into the mixing bowl. Knead on low speed for about 8 mins until a smooth dough forms.
The next step is to leave the dough to rise (don’t forget to cover the bowl to avoid drying out). The time required depends on the room temperature. To speed up the process, keep the dough in a warmer place: in the sun, near a radiator, etc. It should take between 40 to 90 mins. The dough is ready when it doubles in size.
How to shape it beautifully
Apart from the great taste, what makes my scallion bread appealing is its multi-layered appearance and pull-apart appeal. Following the same principle for shaping a Chinese scallion pancake, I gave it my own twist to achieve a more distinctive layered effect. Here is how I shape it (Please refer to my tutorial video in the recipe card below):
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle shape until it’s about 1/2 cm thick. Brush a thin layer of oil, then sprinkle chopped scallions, ground spice & salt.
- From the shorter side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a rope. No need to make it very tight.
- Cut the rope open lengthways. This step is crucial for a beautiful, clear layered effect.
- Swirl the dough into a disc.
Alternative ways to season
The seasoning used in my scallion bread is the same as what you add to traditional Chinese scallion pancake. A very simple yet delicious combination of scallions, spice, salt and oil. Here I’m listing some substitute suggestions that you might find inspiring.
What type of oil
- I usually use regular cooking oil which has a neutral, mild taste. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil is one of my favourites. You can use olive oil too.
- Traditionally, lard is commonly used in Chinese pastry to create extra flavour. For this recipe, you need to melt it beforehand to spread over the dough.
- Melted butter is a good substitute too.
- You may also use melted coconut oil for its special aroma.
In the tutorial video for this recipe, I sprinkled Chinese five-spice powder over the dough. Widely used in Chinese cuisine, it’s a ground spice mix consisting of star-anise, Chinese cinnamon (cassia cinnamon), cloves, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. It’s available both in mainstream supermarkets and Chinese/Asian store.
I also like using ground Sichuan pepper for its special numbing sensation. Unique to Chinese cuisine, it’s really a must-have if you are keen to explore authentic Chinese flavours. I’ve written a complete guide to Sichuan pepper on the blog. You can also find instructions on how to grind it properly.
If you don’t have these two ingredients at hand, please feel free to use other spices, such as ground black pepper, cumin & chilli powder mixture, garlic powder, etc.
Bake it until crispy & golden
Now it’s baking time! Transfer the dough onto a baking tray. To avoid sticking, don’t forget to dust the tray with flour/cornmeal or line it with parchment paper. Flatten the dough further. This will ensure that the middle part is cooked through.
Before sliding the tray into the oven, brush a thin layer of oil on the top and side of the dough. Then sprinkle some sesame seeds. These two simple steps will make the baked bread gain a crispier and tastier crust.
Preheat the oven at 375°F/190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Place the baking tray on the middle rack. It takes 30-35 mins to cook. If this is the first time you are trying out my recipe, please be attentive as the baking time may vary slightly depending on the performance of your oven. I suggest you set an alarm for 25 mins then have a check every 5 mins afterwards. The finished bread should have a beautiful golden colour.
Other delicious Chinese bread
Contrary to the popular misconception that Chinese people live on rice, there are many types of Chinese bread cooked in a variety of ways. I’ve written An Introduction to Chinese Bread on the blog. Check it out to learn more. Here is a list of some typical staple food served on Chinese dining tables:
- Mantou (馒头), Plain Steamed Buns
- Hua Juan (花卷), Steamed Flower Rolls
- Chun Bing (春饼), Spring Pancakes
- Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍), Chinese Burger Buns
Scallion bread, an easy recipe
For the dough
- 500 g all-purpose flour , see note 1
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast, or other types of yeast, see note 2
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 270 g lukewarm water, see note 3
For the filling
- 1 tbsp cooking oil, or melted butter/lard/coconut oil
- 2 stalks scallions, finely chopped
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder/ground Sichuan pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ tbsp cooking oil
Prepare the dough
- IF USING HANDS: Mix flour, yeast (see note 2), sugar in a bowl. Add water gradually while mixing with a pair of chopsticks/spatula. Coarsely combine to form a dough. Rest for 10 mins then knead again until smooth.
- IF USING A STAND MIXER: Add all the ingredients for the dough into the mixing bowl. Knead on low speed for about 8 mins until a smooth dough forms.
Rest the dough
- Keep the dough in the mixing bowl. Cover with a damp cloth.
- Leave to rest in a warm place until doubled in size. It will take between 40 to 90 mins depending on the room temperature.
Shape the bread (Please refer to the video)
- Knead the dough until it goes back to its original size.
- With a rolling pin, flatten it into a rectangle shape until it’s about ½ cm thick.
- Brush the dough with oil. Then evenly sprinkle scallions, salt and five-spice powder (or ground Sichuan pepper).
- Roll the dough into a rope (from the shorter side). Cut it open lengthways. Then swirl it into a disc.
- Transfer the dough onto a baking tray (line it with parchment paper or dust with flour/cornmeal).
- Flatten with your hand. Brush a layer of oil. Then sprinkle sesame seeds.
- Leave to rest for about 10 mins.
Bake the bread
- Preheat the oven at 375°F/190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Place the baking tray onto the middle rack.
- Bake for 30-35 mins until evenly golden on the surface (see note 4). Serve warm.
I hope my post has provided all the tips that you need to make this delicious scallion bread. Tag me @red.house.spice on Instagram to share your experience. I’d love to hear from you!