Zebra Milk bread

Step up your bread game! After making Leopard Bread and Giraffe Bread, I made this pretty and absolutely delicious zebra milk bread!

The zebra effect (or marble effect) is achieved layering a cacao dough and a white dough. To make the cacao dough, cacao powder and espresso coffee are added to one third of the main dough. The rolled out doughs are then stacked many times to create several layers. The recipe is similar to my Asian Marble milk bread, but the process is shorter since you only stack the doughs 3 times instead of 4. The more layers, the thinner and intricate the final design.

The shaping process is way easier than it could seem! I posted a video on my Instagram account for easier understand of all the steps.

As you can see, the texture of this bread is super soft and fluffy and it keeps fresh for many days thanks to the addition of bread starter (also called tangzhong).

The bread starter is very easy to make as it’s just a combination of flour and water, cooked until curd-like texture.

To make this bread I used bread flour. For more information about different flour types and conversions, please read this post.

I used a 20x12x10 cm loaf pan. Using a deep loaf pan results in a tall bread with beautiful design. If you use a longer and less deep pan, you won’t be able to tuck the ends of the braided bread under and your bread will have a regular braided bread shape, similar to Babka.

If you make this recipe, be sure to drop a comment below and tag me with your recreations on Instagram @foodie.yuki !

Zebra milk bread

Dairy-free, egg-free, vegan friendly
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Resting time2 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 1 20 cm loaf
Author: Yukiko @foodie.yuki


  • Stand mixer, loaf pan


Ingredients for the tangzhong

  • 45 g bread flour
  • 240 ml water

Ingredients for the main dough

  • 440 g bread flour
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon optional
  • 2 g instant yeast
  • 30 g light brown sugar
  • 3,5 g (1/2 tsp) fine salt
  • 45 ml full fat soy milk room temp
  • 100 ml water room temp
  • 30 g vegan butter /butter

Ingredients for the cacao dough

  • 20g (2tbsp) Dutch processed dark cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp espresso coffee, sweetened with 1 tsp sugar (optional)


Make bread starter (tangzhong)

  • Whisk water and flour in a small pan. Cook on medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Let cool down completely before using.

Make bread dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk dry ingredients except cacao. Add water, milk and tangzhong and knead until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 min.
  • Add butter and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
  • Divide dough into 1/3 and 2/3 portions.
  • Shape the 2/3 piece into a ball and place into a greased bowl. Cover and set aside.
  • Add cacao powder and espresso to the 1/3 dough portion and knead to combine. Cover and let rest until doubled in size (1h- 1h30).
  • Roll out plain dough into a 20x30cm rectangle
    Roll out cacao dough into a 20x15cm rectangle.
  • Place cacao dough over one half of plain dough and fold the remaining plain dough over.
  • Roll out to into a 20×30 cm rectangle again. Cut dough cross wise and stack the two doughs.
  • Roll out to combine. Repeat the cut, stacking and rolling one more time.
  • Cut dough into 3 equal stripes, lengthwise.
  • Roll out each stripe into a rope and braid the 3 ropes together. Fold ends under so that the bread fits the pan.
  • Let rise for 50 min.
  • Preheat oven to 175C degrees, brush bread with soy milk and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool down into the pan for 15 min then cool completely on a rack.

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