Chinese Sesame Scallion Bread (also sometimes referred to as Sesame Pancake, 芝麻大餅, pronounced zhi ma da bing), is a fluffy, thick bread filled with scallions and crusted with sesame seeds. It’s commonly found in Northern Chinese cuisine and is especially popular in Islamic Chinese cuisine.
I’m interrupting the holiday themed recipes to share this bread I made the other day. It’s my first try, and while I do want to continue to improve it, I’m pretty excited to share my first attempt with you.
Chinese sesame bread is something I’ve enjoyed for years. I always order it when we go to a Chinese Islamic restaurant. I’ve never thought to make it myself because I thought it would be too complicated. But it isn’t! I’ve even included step by step photos to show you.
I learned the recipe from my mom, who was taught how to make it recently after a random encounter with a stranger at the supermarket.
Last year my mom retired and since then she’s been a social butterfly. A few months back, a complete stranger started talking to her about persimmons, which led to them agreeing to exchanging fruit from their respective gardens, which somehow led to the woman inviting my mom over to lunch at her friend’s place. This led to my mom meeting this other woman who loves making all these Chinese dishes like sesame bread and dumplings, which led to my mom attending one of her weekly classes and joining their group of friends. And now my mom knows how to make Chinese Sesame Bread. Crazy right?
I swear, when my mom started telling me this story and she began with agreeing to meet up with some stranger, I did not think the story was going to end well.
When I went home for Thanksgiving, my mom made one for me. I told her I was really interested in recreating it, but I needed an exact recipe. Growing up, recipes from my mom consisted of eyeballing most of the ingredients and seasonings, making it really hard to learn a recipe. My mom assured me she had a full recipe with all the measurements. Then she started making it, and about halfway through, there were a handful of ingredients where I just had to watch her and there were no measurements…
So I went back with my partially written recipe, did some additional research, and came up with this. I really loved how this tasted. I did notice that mine is lacking the distinct layers I see in the restaurant versions, but the taste is right. I’m going to try fiddling around to see how I can create more defined layers.
Also I need a bigger pan! Since it’s just the two of us, I don’t have any super huge pans and this one got a bit squished in my dutch oven. I can’t wait to make this again. Mr. K and I devoured this in one day.
Chinese Sesame Bread with Scallions
This savory bread is easy to make but the dough needs time to proof and rest, so be sure to account for that time when you make it.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp vegetable oil plus additional for oiling pan
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 4 tbsp white sesame seeds
- In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, oil, salt, water, yeast. Using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, combine ingredients until dough comes together and then knead on low speed for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky. You can also do this by hand, which is how my mom did it.
- Lightly grease another large bowl. Gather dough and place into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Lightly flour a large pastry board or flat surface. Roll dough out. Spread scallions across the surface. Then, roll the dough back up, with the scallions folded on the inside (see photos). Form the roll into a spiral. Carefully use the rolling pin on the spiral, rolling and flattening until it becomes a large round disc. (An alternative method: My mother's method was to grease a large plate and roll dough out with scallions directly onto the plate. This method works but you won't have as many layers.)
- Sprinkle both sides with sesame seeds, so that the exterior has a sesame crust. I used about 2 tbsp per side. Let dough rest for about 20 minutes.
- Using an oversized pot or pan, add oil and preheat. Once the oil is hot, slide your bread into the pot/pan. Cook each side for about 7 minutes on medium high heat until both top and bottom develop a brown crust and the inside is fully cooked. Slice and serve. Bread is best enjoyed warm.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.