Asian Sweet Bread (Hong Kong Pai Bao, Hokkaido Milk Bread)

Picture of Asian Sweet Bread (Hong Kong Pai Bao, Hokkaido Milk Bread)
I am so happy to share this recipe with you. Asian Sweet Bread is a staple in all Asian bakeries. The bread is soft and pillow-y and just melts in your mouth with a slight sweet flavor. The crust is perfectly brown and flaky. It's gorgeous to look at...and delicious to eat. A perfect snack on any occasion and it can hold its own next to any store bought rolls or loaves. 

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. 
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Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients
For this delicious sweet bread:
  • 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
mmorsit13 days ago

Made this today. Eating one as I typed this. I halved
the recipe, substitute the flour with wholemeal, and the result is fantastic! Definitely
a keeper. I made 2 cheese buns, 6 small nutella rolls and 6 plain buns. And I don’t
use the mixer at all. Knead with hands all the way but it was quite easy, not
even that sticky. Thank you!Going to add more sugar in other batches.

azngel18 days ago

Made this EXACTLY according to recipe and it came out fantastic! Only problem I ran into was that the recipe made too much dough for one 9x5 loaf pan so I could only fit 3 sections into the pan. I think 3/4 amount of dough is enough for the loaf pan.

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wombleswife1 month ago
Just made these this Sunday, used a sourdough starter instead of yeast and they worked out fab! Bit of a tang from the sourdough but also really sweet. These buns are something I will bake again and again, thanks for the recipe xx
charleyyaipen made it!2 months ago

Cut the recipe in half and it worked out. I can't get enough of them. I think it need more sugar though but other than that, it was awesome! First time making bread! Success!

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kirkjhayes2 months ago
Awesome! My first attempt at bread making on my own. I cut the recipe in half and I used 50/50 bread flour & whole wheat flour.
imeldaliliana made it!2 months ago

Thank you for sharing this recipe. The texture is very soft and moist but only need more sugar

ChayChayTruong made it!3 months ago

Made this today! I cut the recipe in half and made 8 good sized buns. I added red bean paste into 4 of the buns, turned out perfect. I made the other 4 buns into Bo Lo buns, but I would double the sugar to achieve the sweetness for Bo Lo buns next time. Overall, the bread was soft and fluffy, will definitely make this again!

tofubroccoli3 months ago
Finally found a fluffy bread recipe for my red bean paste!!!! Loved this! I hand kneaded for 45 minutes and added about a cup of flour slowly when I was kneading. Will definitely be saving this recipe
hazelnutlatte made it!4 months ago

Thanks for the recipe! It was a great success! My 1st time making bread!

KristyW5 months ago

It has taken me 3 years to find a dinner roll recipe that matched what my mind thought it should be..This one is the one! Thank you.

peggy.tang.546 months ago

hi, I don't have breadflour available, can I use bleach all purpose flour, will it turn out nice and fluffy, and can I let the dough stay overnight and bake in the morning ? will the dough turn sour ? thanks

ALibrarian1 year ago

Thank you for this recipe! I tried it for the first time today. I have a Chinese New Year celebration tomorrow and I wasn't sure what to bring so I simply put down "Dinner Rolls". Well, these are perfect and they taste great! Thank you again!

jen7714 (author)  ALibrarian7 months ago

Awesome! Sounds perfect for the occassion!

nida139 made it!11 months ago

hi , I used your recipe for this bread . I used only half of each ingredients. And it came out perfect. .only It was a little less sweet. Otherwise it was perfect. Thanks for the recipe.

jen7714 (author)  nida1397 months ago

You're so welcome! Thanks for the pictures!

evuong1 made it!11 months ago

I tried with some adjustment. I used Bread Flour, and make ~550 grams of flour in total (including the tangzhong). I do not use egg wash, and instead I use melted butter to brush the buns, this makes the bun more moisture and tender...

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jen7714 (author)  evuong17 months ago

Nice! They turned out great!

mmala111 months ago
Hi I made the bread last nite let it proof and baked this morning. It turned out soo good thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe my parents couldnt stop eating it ;)
jen7714 (author)  mmala17 months ago

Thank you so much for the nice comment!

bconnerly9 months ago

Hi. So your ingredients list says "instant yeast" but your pictures show "Active Dry Yeast"

I used active dry yeast and followed your directions but now I'm thinking I should have activated it first because my bread is not rising..

hi i tried out this recipe - it was fantastic , i used the overnight proving method and the buns were wiped off the table at breakfast ...... thanks for the same

eevigus1 year ago
Made this recipe. The most perfect, light bread ever. Easy and fast compared to some yeast breads. Made small rolled loaves like ones to go in pan but put them on a baking sheet and some in large muffin tin baked them just 20 minutes. They were beautiful
, better than the best I have tasted at Chinese bakery.
jen7714 (author)  eevigus1 year ago
Thank you so much! I love hearing how my recipe works out for others. Glad you enjoyed it!
oil_baron1 year ago
I've been baking bread for ten years now and this is one of the best recipes I have come across. The bread is so fluffy I can hardly believe it. THANK YOU!!!!
jen7714 (author)  oil_baron1 year ago
I am so grateful for the amazing comment! Happy you enjoyed it!
jlee1661 year ago
if i dont want this bread to be sweet, can i take out the sugar from this recipe? i know its defeats the purpose of this recipe, but is it possible?
jen7714 (author)  jlee1661 year ago
The trouble with taking the sugar out in this recipe is that the yeast needs it for "food." However, you can definitely reduce the amount of sugar.
What a great recipe! My only problem was that it took a lot longer than 30 minutes to bake in a loaf pan. It took me about 50+ minutes or so to reach 195-200F internal temperature. Other than that, your bread recipe rocks!
jen7714 (author)  indianajoel1 year ago
Thank you so much! It may be our difference in ovens or maybe pan placement, but I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I'm so glad to have found your recipe! However, I ran into a little trouble while baking this...what size loaf pan did you use? I used a standard size loaf pan and the dough ended up overflowing the pan...I had to take it out after 30 mins, cut it into 4 and bake again for another 15 mins as the centre was still raw? Not sure what went wrong...still looks and smells great though...waiting for it to cool down so I can try it!
jen7714 (author)  Jessicafiorito1 year ago
Hello! I also used a standard size loaf pan. Make sure you you only use enough dough to fill up 1/2 to 3/4 of the pan before you proof it in the loaf pan. Also, ensure that you don't overproof the dough (doubled in size is good :) Hope this helps, and let me know how it worked out!
SageMinto2 years ago
I adore breads like this. I will try it today with that new cream cheese recipe I found here lol. Thanks for sharing!! :)
jen7714 (author)  SageMinto2 years ago
No problem! Tell me how it goes!
Thergox2 years ago
Can't wait to give it a try!
jen7714 (author)  Thergox2 years ago
Definitely worth it!
ferlopag2 years ago
Today I'll try it, wonderful
jen7714 (author)  ferlopag2 years ago
Awesome! :)
Oh yum! Definitely going to try this - I'm awful at making bread.
jen7714 (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thanks for the nice comment! I hope you do try it out.