This recipe is close to my heart as well. I have always gotten some sweet treat when going to Asian bakeries. I always came home with all kinds of bread...all of which derived from this simple recipe.
Asian Sweet Bread (otherwise called Hong Kong Pai Bao or Hokkaido Milk Bread) is a staple in Asian bakeries and it should definitely be a staple in your household :) Delicious, fluffy, soft and everything bread should be.
Step 1: Ingredients
- 5 cups bread flour (all purpose flour will also work: the kneading time will need to be increased though)
- 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup of milk
- 4 teaspoons instant yeast (this is usually two packages of yeast)
- 6 tbsp butter (cut the butter into small pieces and make sure it is softened at room temperature)
- 1 serving of tangzhong: this is a separate recipe and you will use all the tangzhong made with the recipe
For the tangzhong:
1/3 cup of bread flour (all purpose will work as well)
1 cup of water
Step 2: Making the Tangzhong
Mix the 1/3 cup of flour and water together. Whisk until the flour is completely dissolved there are no lumps.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and turn on the heat to medium. Stir the mixture constantly as the mixture heats up. Cook the tangzhong until the mixture thickens. You should be able to draw "lines" in the mixture and the indent should remain for a little bit (it will be noticeable). It is the best to use a thermometer. The mixture should be perfect at 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius).
Once the mixture is just right, take it off the stove and step aside.
Step 3: Combine and Kneading
Use the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Begin mixing on medium speed until the dough comes together. Then add in the butter and continue mixing/kneading.
Keep kneading until it is a smooth dough. It shouldn't be too sticky and have some elasticity. It took me around 30 minutes to mix the dough in the mixture. I would also knead for a little bit by hand. I added some more flour to keep the dough from being too sticky.
You can knead the dough by hand totally, but it can be very, very, very tiring :)
Step 4: Creating the Form
After proofing, move the dough to a clean surface and split up the dough into four equal portions. Knead and form this dough into balls. Cover the book with the wet towel again and let it rest for 15 minutes.
To form the shape shown in the picture below (with helps create the fluffiness of the layers):
Taking the rolling pin and roll each portion of the dough into an oval shape. Then take one end of the oval dough and fold it to the middle of the oval. The other end should then be folded to meet top of the other end of the dough (as seen in the picture below).
Now in order to further create the fluffiness of the layers, flip dough over with the folds facing down. Flatten the dough with rolling pin and flip it over again.
Finally, it's time to roll the dough in the shapes shown below.
Step 5: Alternative Shapes
Throughout this entire process, you can have fun with it! I formed my dough into rolls, a regular loaf, and even a funky small combination of rolls, as shown int the second picture.
Step 6: Proofing the Rolls in the Pan
Before baking the final proofed break, beat an egg until thoroughly combined. Brush the egg mixture on top of the bread in order to create the beautiful brown shiny finish after baking.
Finally, bake the bread at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes.
Step 7: Finish!
They have the perfect texture on the inside, with a perfect combination of fluffiness in the center and the shiny, beautiful crust. I love making the rolls and peeling back all the different layers in the bread.
This recipe is versatile, so you can use the dough to create different shapes and forms. You can even try making bread with different fillings!
Try out this recipe to create the perfect loaf or the perfect roll! :) If you do, be sure to drop a comment below and tell me how it turned out!