Matcha Turtle Bread

I saw the recipe for these adorable turtles on my Instagram feed (thank you @tastemade) and knew I had to make them. It took an entire half-day’s work since I used whole wheat flour and gave my dough extra time to proof before baking. The result? They turned out a bit denser than I liked due to the wheat flour (and my lazy butt opting to skip the making of the tangzhong), but cute all the same! Recipe is adapted from the original by Bella over at ful-filled. I filled my turtles with hazelnut spread instead of white chocolate and used dabs of black cookie icing that I already had on hand instead of sesame seeds for eyes.

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Matcha Turtle Bread

Ingredients - A bit time-consuming to make, but totally worth the effort. These cuties will sit in an air-tight container for 4-5 days. Best consumed fresh out of the oven before they become stale, but 30 in the microwave will bring them back to their original pillow-y texture. A digital scale will be your best friend here.

  • 270g bread flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour)

  • 100g sugar (about 1/4 cup)

  • 12g matcha (I use Ito-En brand from Costco)

  • 5g instant yeast (I had traditional active dry yeast, so I activated them in warm water and reduced the amount of milk I used)

  • 4g fine grain salt

  • 4g non-fat dry milk powder (I skipped this since I didn’t have it on hand)

  • 70g whole milk, room temperature (a little less than 5 tablespoons)

  • 1 tsp (4g) vanilla extract

  • 1 egg, room temperature & whisked

  • 28g unsalted butter, melted & cooled (~1.5 tablespoons)

  • for the filling: 90g finely chopped white chocolate (I used 1/4 c hazelnut spread instead)

  • for the eyes: 12 black sesame seeds

  • for the Dutch crunch shells:

    • 1 1/2 tsp (3g) active dry yeast

    • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water

    • 1 tbsp (12g) sugar

    • 1 1/2 tsp (12.5g) vegetable oil (Bella used avocado oil)

    • 1/2 tsp (2g) salt

    • 1/3 cup (50g) rice flour (use white or brown rice flour- not Mochiko sticky rice flour)

    • 1 tbsp (7.5g) cocoa powder

Instructions (from Bella at ful-filled)

  • To make the tangzhong (an Asian shortcut that pre-gelatinizes the starch, resulting in bread that naturally stays soft for longer): In a small saucepan, whisk together the water, milk & flour, until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it becomes a thick slurry. Set aside and let cool. You’ll incorporate this slurry into your wet ingredients and dough later.

  • For the main turtle dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, matcha, instant yeast, salt & milk powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, egg, and cooled tangzhong, then add to the large bowl and knead with a dough hook until just combined. Bella says scraggy dough is okay.

    • Add the melted butter & knead the dough for about 7-10 more minutes. It should become more elastic & a little sticky.

    • Knead the dough into a ball & place into a greased bowl. Cover & place in a warm place to rise for 1.5 hours. For me, this was atop my closet in my room. Your location may vary.

  • To shape the turtles: After your dough has about doubled in size, weigh it and divvy it up into 8 equal size pieces—6 pieces will become the bodies, and 2 will become the heads and feet of the turtles.

    • Flatten each piece of “body” dough and add your choice of chopped white chocolate (or in my case, a spoonful of hazelnut spread) to the flattened dough, pressing the chocolate into the dough. Fold the dough up & around the white chocolate, pressing the dough together to ensure it is well sealed.

    • Flip over the dough so the sealed side is facing down - repeat with the other 5 pieces of dough & the turtle bodies are done

    • Place the turtle bodies on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2" in between each turtle

    • Take 1 of the reserved balls of dough & divide it into 6 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, gently pinch one end so it becomes a teardrop, slip the pinched end under the turtle body & press the body down at their meeting point, repeating until all of the bodies have heads.

    • Take 1 remaining ball of dough, divvy it into 6 pieces, then divvy those 6 each into 4 even smaller pieces, leaving you with 24 total small pieces (= 4 feet for each of 6 turtles).

    • Shape each of 24 pieces into ovals, pinch one end, and tuck under the turtle bodies to become their feet.

    • Next: their eyes! Press 2 black sesame seeds onto each head, dabbing into place with a toothpick.

    • Cover the completed turtle rolls with plastic wrap & put in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes,

    • While the turtles are rising make the dutch crunch! In a small bowl whisk together the dutch crunch ingredients until smooth. Cover with plastic & leave to rise while the turtles are rising.

    • When the turtles are done rising, pre-heat your oven to 350F. Stir the dutch crunch topping until smooth & then coat the top of each turtle body with the dutch crunch topping, spreading it evenly with a spoon until all of the topping is used up.

    • Sprinkle the dutch crunch coating with sugar & then bake the rolls for 20 minutes.

    • Remove from oven & place turtles on a rack to cool for about 10-15 minutes

    • The turtles are best enjoyed warm from the oven, but they’ll keep for 2-3 days and can be nuked into the microwave for 15-20 seconds to bring back their fluffiness.


Prep time: 60 mins manual labor + 1 hour of waiting for the turtle dough to proof

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 3.5 hours

Yield: 6 turtles

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