Sweet milk bread rolls

I went back to the Bay Area this weekend to visit my parents and show off my new ring. Whenever I go home, I try to bring home some baked goods that my family will enjoy.


Last time I went home, I made them some milk bread using the tangzhong method (a natural method for creating a soft and fluffy bread which you can read more about here), and they really enjoyed it. In fact they finished it off within a few hours. So this time I decided to make extra.

Rather than make a loaf, I thought i’d be easier to store and carry smaller rolls for my flight. I previously had made raisin rolls, so this time I made them without the raisins. I used a 8 x 8 pan and was able to make 9 individual rolls.

The bread came out soft and fluffy as usual. In the smaller condensed form it is not as fluffy as a slice off of a loaf, but it is still pretty good.

I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.

Recipe: Sweet Milk Bread Rolls

(bread base adapted from this recipe)


  • 2½ cups bread flour
  • 3tbsp+2tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 120g tangzhong (use this recipe here for the tangzhong, but make sure you weigh out 120g as this tz recipe makes close to double the amount needed)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)


  1. Make sure you have tangzhong already made from the night before or a few hours before you are going to make the bread as it needs to cool before use.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients. Use the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue mixing on medium to high speed. Mix/knead for about 18-20 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and is elastic. You want the dough to be elastic. So if you were to take a part of it and stretch it out, you can stretch it to a very thin membrane without it breaking. When you poke a hole in the thin membrane, it should form a close to perfect circle.
  3. Gather the dough into a ball shape. Take a large bowl and grease with oil. Place dough into greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof until it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  4. Deflate and divide the dough into nine equal portions. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Roll out each part with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Take one end of the dough and fold to meet the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold to meet on top. Turn the dough over, so that the folds face down and roll and flatten dough with pin. Flip dough again, so folded side faces up. Roll the dough up from top to bottom. Take both ends and fold down until they meet at the bottom. Stretch and move the top portion of the dough around until you end up with a ball shape at the top and the ends are tucked into the bottom. Repeat this step of rolling for the rest of your dough. With seals of the dough balls facing down, place the nine balls into an 8 x 8 baking pan that is lined with parchment paper. Then cover with cling wrap or a wet towel. Leave it for the second round of proofing, about 45 to 60 minutes, until double in size.
  6. Whisk an egg and brush egg wash on surface of buns (this will create the shiny finish). Bake in a pre-heated 330F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely.


20 comments on “Sweet milk bread rolls”

  1. Arghhh this looks so good – i love how you shaped them into small portions! Cute!
    I still can’t get enough of tangzhong bread!!

    Btw, a HUGE congrats on your engagement! Just read the news now 😀 What a blessing for you and your fiance to have known each other for so long too!

    • Thanks for the congrats. I’m liking the small portions for the breads. The problem I had with the loaves was that they were hard to cut. And I also I would just peel off one of the chunks and end up eating the entire chunk…

  2. Completely, utterly jealous of you right now – the bread looks beautiful!

    Does it taste like that Kings Hawaiian sweet bread?

    What’s the total prep time (including the tangzhong method)?

    • Well the problem with all yeast breads is there is a lot of time waiting around because the bread needs to rise. The tangzhong takes about 5 minutes to make. Then you need to let it cool for a few hours in the fridge. I would say you need about 3 1/2 hours for the bread from start to finish. It’s not much actual hands on work. Most of it is letting the machine knead, letting it rise, and then letting is bake, but you do need to be block out a few hours to be in the house to do it all.
      As for taste, you know I used to think it tastes like the King Hawaiian sweet bread, and now I don’t think it tastes that much like it after having King Hawaiian bread recently. It tastes like the chinese bakery breads. Like the ones with filling, but without any filling.

  3. I’ve been wanting to try your milk bread recipes… I love Asian bread! So soft & fluffy…

    • You should definitely check it out! I just got the whole book of recipes. Now to search through them and start having my mom translate!

  4. these look AMAZING! been wanting to try the tangzhong method for some time… asian bread is the bessttt

  5. Hi,

    I luv luv luv fluffy soft cottony Asian bread. I’m going to attempt your recipe. My only question though, is it necessary to roll out and fold it the way you do or can we just roll into a ball without the folding step such as making brioche?

    Kindly let me know and thanks in advance!

    • You know, I don’t know the answer. I actually have thought about it too: why does it have this special roll out method. I feel like there has to be a reasoning behind it because it is more steps. Maybe next time I’ll make some both ways and see if there is a difference. I wouldn’t want to waste a whole batch on one method though in case it doesn’t work out.

  6. That method is used in making croissants in order for it to have that flaky buttery layer so maybe it serves the same purpose on this buns. I’m planning on making this recipe this weekend, roll out and fold half of the batch and directly shape the other batch to a ball and figure out the difference. Thank you so much for responding 🙂

    • Let me know your results! I’m guessing having those layers has something to do with the expansion. Perhaps if it’s one ball it doesn’t rise or expand and fluff up nearly as much as if it is made into thin layers? Because the end result you don’t really see the layers after it’s baked.

  7. Hi Kirbie,
    It appears that there is no different in texture at all! These buns are amazing. The first bite simply took me back to my childhood when my late dad used to bring us home these great sweet buns from a popular bakery back home. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Thank you for providing the update! It will save me a few steps next time I make these and I’m so happy these were able to take you back to your childhood. I love food that is able to do that.

  8. Hi! I made these rolls yesterday and we loved them. However, I found the dough sticky, so I had to add flour.The rolls were soft but slightly chewy. Any idea why? Could it be too much tangzhong or insufficient egg? Thanks.

    • did you make sure to only use 120g of tangzhong? if you follow the tangzhong recipe it makes more than 120g, so you actually only use a little more than half of that mixture, not the whole thing.

  9. Hi Kirbie,

    I would just to like to ask what is the temperature of the milk?
    In most bread recipes I have seen, it required warm water or milk to make the yeast work. I would love to try this recipe, been making rolls but the texture isn’t fluffy and soft, though not hard but not the ones that I would go to – has big holes inside. Thank you for your reply!

    -Xen from Brunei

    • the recipe uses instant yeast which does not require warm water or milk to activate, so you don’t need to warm the milk. make sure you use instant yeast for the recipe!

  10. Hi Kirbie!

    I made these sweet rolls and they were so soft and delicious! this is by far the best rolls I made! I put cheddar cheese in the middle – we call it cheese bread back in Philippines and it was a hit! Thank you for sharing the recipe. This will be my go to recipe from now on 🙂

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