Hawaiian Hokkaido Milk Buns

King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls, but make it Hokkaido style 🍞 This recipe uses a tangzhong, which is a roux that makes Asian breads stay pillowy soft for days. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese or Chinese bakery, you know what I’m talking about (hot dog buns FTW). Note: cup measurements are super varied depending on how you measure. Measuring by weight in grams will always be more accurate.



  • 130g water (1/2 cup)
  • 20g bread flour (2 tbsp)


  • 590g bread flour (4 1/2 cups)
  • 5g salt (1 tsp)
  • 20g *optional* dry milk powder (3 tbsp)
  • 50g egg, beaten (about 1 large egg)
  • 55g room temperature butter (4 tbsp)
  • 7g active dry yeast (3 tsp, or one packet)
  • 60g granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 185g milk warmed to 100°F (3/4 cup)
  • 120g pineapple juice (1/2 cup)
  • 115g tangzhong
  • *Additional egg for eggwash


  1. In a small pan off heat, use a rubber spatula to combine the tangzhong ingredients until there are no clumps of flour. Turn on the stove on medium low heat and stir constantly until the mixture turns into a semi opaque paste. It will be about 160°F. Remove from heat and let it cool completely to room temperature.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk (100°F), yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir and then let sit for a few minutes until foamy.
  3. To the yeast mixture, add the beaten egg, flour, salt, and the rest of the sugar. Using a dough hook on a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix on low just until the flour is absorbed. It will look very shaggy and clumpy.
  4. Add the pineapple juice and all of the tangzhong. Continue mixing on medium low speed for about 3 minutes until a dough begins to form. Add the dry milk powder in (optional) and mix just until combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the softened butter in, a few chunks at a time. Continue mixing on medium low speed for another 5-8 munites or so until the dough is just manageable enough. It will feel very sticky, but do not add more flour.
  6. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with damp towel or a lid. Place in a warm place to rise for an hour (should be noticeably larger, but doesn’t have to be doubled in size necessarily). I like to preheat my oven just until it reaches 100°F, and let the dough rise in there.
  7. Punch down the dough once to deflate. Weigh the dough and divide it into 15 equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a roughly 3×5 inch rectangle. Fold into thirds like you would fold a letter. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again into a roughly 3×5 inch rectangle. Starting from the short edge, roll up the dough into itself (see picture above for reference). Pinch the seam to seal and place on a 9×13 inch pan that’s been lined with parchment and greased with butter. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces.
  8. Cover the pan with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  9. Beat an egg and brush the eggwash onto the buns. Repeat two more times to make sure they bake up nice and golden brown.
  10. Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes. Finish baking on a higher rack for the last 5 minutes to get the best color.
  11. Cool for 5 minutes before moving the buns onto a wire rack to cool some more.

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