Straight off the bat, some of you will be nodding your head and muttering “yes please” to yourselves. Others will have clicked through presuming we’ve made some sort of mistake here. Cream cheese? Garlic bread? Korean?
Yes, you read correctly. No, it isn’t a mistake. Keep reading to learn what Korean cream cheese garlic bread is, what makes it different from regular garlic bread (despite the obvious addition of cream cheese), and – most importantly of all – how to make it at home.
What is Korean cream cheese garlic bread?
Korea has a strong culinary culture all of its own, but something interesting happened in the south shortly after the country’s civil war in the 1950s. The presence of American soldiers, and thus the influence of American tastes, made a profound impact on South Korea’s street food scene – especially in Seoul.
It turns out the South Koreans had some knack for taking Western foodstuffs and making them their own – and, arguably, often improving on them. Examples include grilled cheese lobster sandwiches, Korean fried chicken, and, of course, cream cheese garlic bread.
This popular Seoul street food is more than just garlic bread with cream cheese on. It combines sweet and savoury flavours, with no holding back on the garlic. There’s a combination of textures too, with the inside of the bread creamy and moist, it turns into a satisfying chew further out, and all that inside a nice crunchy crust.
You’ll get a better understanding of what it’s like once you know how it differs from regular garlic bread.
What is the difference between Korean cream cheese garlic bread and regular garlic bread?
Obviously, garlic bread can take several forms, but it generally amounts to spreading garlic butter on slices of a baguette, a pizza base, or occasionally bread rolls.
Korean cream cheese garlic bread opts for the bread roll approach, but it’s not as simple as cutting one in half, spreading garlic butter on, and then adding cream cheese.
Instead, the roll is cut into segments like an orange, piped full of sweetened cream cheese, and then dunked into a garlic butter custard. It’s this garlic butter custard that makes the interior so moist and, once the rolls are cooked again, the crust just so delectably crunchy.
Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread Recipe
4¾ cups bread flour
¼ cup powdered milk
1½ tsps fine salt
3 tbsps sugar
2 tsps instant yeast
3½ tbsps melted butter
1½ cups room temperature water
Garlic butter custard:
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 beaten egg
2 tbsps milk
2 tbsps honey
3 tbsps (approx 5–7 cloves) minced garlic
1½ tbsps dried parsley
Cream cheese filling:
340g / 12oz soft cream cheese
3 tbsps sugar
Prepare bread rolls:
In a bowl, lightly beat together the butter and egg. Then add the water and stir it in.
In the bowl of a standing mixer and using a paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients at a low speed.
Switch the standing mixer attachment to a dough hook, add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and set the machine to knead the dough until smooth and not sticky.
Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough into it. Turn the dough over a few times to ensure it’s coated in oil, then cover the bowl with a dishcloth and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (up to 2 hours).
Once the dough has risen, divide it into 6 equal parts (roughly 12 cm / 5 inches across). Roll each part into a round ball, then pull each open, curl it under itself, and pinch it back together smoothly.
Oil each roll lightly and then place them on a lined baking tray.
Cover the rolls with a dishcloth and allow them to rise for another hour.
Make garlic butter custard:
8. In a heatproof bowl, combine all garlic butter custard ingredients.
9. In a pot (ideally a slightly lower diameter than the heatproof bowl), bring about 4 inches of water to boil.
10. Place the heatproof bowl over the pot, stirring all the ingredients constantly so as not to let the egg curdle. Do this until all ingredients are soft and combined, then turn off the heat and ensure the custard is thoroughly mixed.
Make cream cheese filling:
11. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar.
12. Place the mixture in a piping bag.
Baking and assembly:
13. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
14. Bake the rolls for 13 to 15 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
15. Once the rolls are cool enough to hand, slice them most of the way through into 6 equal segments, being careful not to cut through the bottom.
16. Pipe the cream cheese between each segment of every bun.
17. Dunk each of the buns into the garlic butter custard, ensuring that they’re fully coated both inside and out.
18. Shake off any excess butter and return the rolls to the lined baking tray.
19. Return the rolls to the over and bake further until golden. This should take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.
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