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Tangzhong Milk Bread Five-Spice Cinnamon Buns


Tangzhong is a roux made from cooking water (or milk) and flour. Like a sponge, tangzhong helps bread retain more water during and after baking, resulting in these irresistibly fluffy, pillowy, and flavorful buns that remain soft and tender for days. This recipe is adapted from one found on SAB by Shirley Chu (@simplechuoice on Instagram).


Yields 9 Buns


Prepare the Tangzhong


In a saucepan over low heat, add the flour and milk and whisk until no lumps remain. Once thickened like smooth mashed potatoes, remove from heat, cover, and cool.

Prepare the Dough


Add the yeast and a dash of sugar to the warm milk. Let the mixture foam and bubble for a few minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the milk mixture, tangzhong, bread flour, sugar, salt, egg, and melted butter. Mix on low speed for a few minutes, until a smooth and elastic dough forms.


Flour your hands and shape the dough into a ball. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl. Cover and proof for 60 minutes, until roughly doubled in size.

Prepare the Filling


Combine all the filling ingredients and mix until incorporated. Set aside.


Line a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 centimeter) baking pan with Gefen Parchment Paper.


Deflate the dough. Transfer to a floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 15 x 9 inches (38 x 23 centimeters), while maintaining an even thickness.


Spread the filling evenly over the entire dough.


Roll into a jelly roll. With the seam-side down, slice into nine even one-inch (two-and-a-half-centimeter) portions with a sharp knife.


Place all the buns, cut-side up, on the prepared pan in a three-by-three array. Cover and let rise for about 60 minutes, until puffy.


About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 4) with a rack in the center.

Prepare the Egg Wash


Brush the optional egg wash evenly over the buns. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes on the pan and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the Frosting


In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all the frosting ingredients (except the sugar) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Sift in the sugar, in increments, and beat until smooth. Spread the frosting over the buns and enjoy!


For an added kick and texture, try topping the buns with minced candied ginger.


Recipe excerpted from Modern Asian Baking at Home : Essential Sweet and Savory Recipes for Milk Bread, Mochi, Mooncakes, and More; Inspired by the Subtle Asian Baking Community (Quarto 2022). Purchase on Amazon.