Asian White Bread (Asian-Style Pain de Mie)

If you love bread that is soft, tender, and slightly chewy, then Asian White Bread will soon become one of your favorites.  Asian White Bread, also called Asian Pain de Mie or Hokkaido Milk Loaf, is widely available at Chinese, Japanese, and Korean bakeries and is slightly richer than the standard American white bread.

By adding some more butter and sugar, Asian Pain de Mie is both sweeter and richer than American white bread, but not as sweet and rich as a brioche is.  To put it simply, if American white bread and French brioche had a child, it would be Asian Pain de Mie.

The most unique and important ingredient of this bread is a water-roux, which along with the sugar and butter acts as a bread softener, giving the loaf its characteristic springy, silky tenderness.  This water-roux, also called a tangzhong, is the secret to all Asian breads.  Not only does it add softness to breads but it also allows for a slightly longer shelf life.

In the pullman loaf pan ready for the oven!

This recipe is adapted from the dough recipe for my Honeyed BBQ Pork Buns.  There is nothing complicated about making this bread–you just need to allot some time to make it.  There are certain times where only an Asian-style white bread will do, and this is especially true for my Maple Brick Toast Recipe.  This bread is also perfect for making tea sandwiches because of its soft texture and because you will be able to cut it thinner than the standard slice.

Getting a whiff of this bread baking in the oven is one of my favorite scents on a cold winter day.  Fluffy and soft, this bread is perfect on its own but will also make any spread or sandwich fillings eaten with it that much more delicious.

Asian White Bread (Asian-Style Pain de Mie)

Makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

{Bread Dough}

4 cups bread flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk

1 Tbsp instant yeast (I use SAF instant)

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter (at room temperature)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp water

bench flour and oil for proofing bowl

{Water Roux}

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp bread flour

Equipment:

Pullman Loaf pan (13″ x 4″ x 4″) or regular loaf pan (9″ x 5″)

stand mixer

wire rack

Directions:

1.)  Make the Water Roux.  Place a 1/2 cup of cold water into a small saucepan and add the 2 Tbsp of bread flour.  Mix well until the mixture resembles homogenized milk, then turn on stove top to medium heat.  Cook the roux until it thickens up and has the consistency of a yogurt, making sure to keep the mixture a pure white color by not overcooking.  The mixture should not exceed 150 degrees F.  Place the mixture into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making contact with the top surface of the roux (to prevent a skin from forming).  You should end up with 1/2 cup of roux, ready to use when it has cooled back down to room temperature.

2.)  Make the Dough.  Using the bowl of a stand mixer, place all the wet dough ingredients (including the roux) into the mixing bowl.  Place the bowl in the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and start to mix on low-speed.  Add the flour gradually, a cup at a time, scraping down the insides of the mixing bowl periodically.  Increase the speed to low-medium and continue to mix the shaggy mass for 5 minutes until you get a soft and supple ball of dough.  If the dough seems dry, add 1-2 tsp of water.  The resulting dough should feel tacky when you press into it without actually sticking to your finger.  Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl to proof, lightly coating all sides of the dough with some of the same oil.  Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough proof in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes or until the mass has doubled in volume.

3.)  Shape the Loaf.  After the dough has doubled in volume, turn it out on a work surface scattered with bench flour.  Oil the pullman loaf pan (or regular loaf pan) well, both the top and bottom pieces.  Gently roll the dough into a log slightly longer than the length of the loaf pan.  Transfer dough log into loaf pan tucking ends underneath the log to create a smooth, even top to the dough loaf.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place to allow to double in volume and come within a 1/2″ of the top edge of the pan.  Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

4.)  Finish and Bake.  After the second rising, remove plastic wrap and slide top of pullman loaf pan on (if using).  Bake in oven for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and slide the top cover off the pullman pan.  Place back into the oven, and bake for an extra 15 minutes.  The bread is done when it hits an internal temperature hits 190 degrees F.  Transfer the loaf to a rack until it cools to room temperature.

This bread is perfect for tea sandwiches, a light morning breakfast, or for Maple Brick Toast, a Taiwanese tea shop favorite!

There is nothing better than fresh bread!

14 thoughts on “Asian White Bread (Asian-Style Pain de Mie)

  1. Hi, your bread looks yummy 🙂 Is non-fat dry milk same as milk powder? How heavy is the water roux (ie for 1/2 cup water and 2 Tbsp bread flour combination).

    • Hi Tan! You want to use non-fat milk powder in this recipe, which adds more creamy milk flavor without adding fat. For the water roux, I’ve never weighed it…just get it to a mayonnaise-like consistency, and you should be good to go! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    • Hey again Tan! Use the same flour you make the bread dough with, bread flour. Just a light dusting should do the trick. Hope you have fun making the bread, love the way it smells when it’s baking in the oven!

  2. HI Bonnie, I tried the bread and it turned out to be soft :-). However, it seems to be on the heavy side (the bread is really heavy). Is it because there is too much flour? What is the size of your pullman loaf pan? Mine is about 6.5 inch (length) X 4.25 in (height) X 3.5 in (width). It seems too small for the recipe. I probably have to cut out some as mould into buns. All seems good saved for the fact that I am looking into improvisation 🙂 This is my first time trying this recipe.

    • Hey Tan! So if the bread is on the heavy side, from your description it must be because the size of your pullman loaf pan. Mine is 13″x 4″ x 4″, also known as a standard 1 1/2 lb. pullman loaf pan. A regular loaf pan (without the a top) could also work, but the result will be a domed top crust. From your dimensions it seems like you could half the recipe and that amount might be more appropriate for your size pullman. As a side note, if it’s a cooler day where you are, you also want to make sure the the bread properly doubles in volume during the 2nd proofing. This will also make the bread more airy and lighter. Hope this helps Tan! Thanks for letting me know how it went! 😉

    • Hi again Tan–just wanted to let you know I went ahead and labeled the pan dimensions on the recipe. I didn’t know there were so many sizes of pullman’s out there…thanks for your help!

  3. Hi Bonnie, I’m so glad that you replied so quickly as I am planning to try it again today. I am writing this from Singapore. Weather wise, humid and dry. It’s been cool 🙂 these days due to the wind from China. In the meanwhile, I was doing further research and something struck me. It seems that there are different interpretations of cups too. I am not sure if my 1 cup size is the same as your’s. 1 cup of flour for me is equal to 125gms of flour. Is your’s also the same?

    • Hey Again Tan!
      Ok, so 1 cup of bread flour is about 140 grams. And for the all-purpose flour 1 cup is about 130 grams. It’s even better measuring by weight anyways. Just try to make sure the dough is lightly covered when it’s proofing, in a relatively warm place. I sometimes even place the bottom portion of the pan in some warm water (in a pan larger than the baking pan) for better proofing/”poofing” results on a colder day. Let me know how it goes, nice chatting with ya! 😉

  4. Hi Bonnie, I’m back. The bread was really soft and fluffy 🙂 The proofing was good, the top nearly touching the cover although it took much longer than expected, in the circa of 3 hours. Did you dough touch the top of the pan after proofing? If not, how far away was it? Other variables I have adopted after various readings and youtubes are:
    1) the use of hot water – 80-90 Fahrenheit. I do not have a thermometer, so it’s just guesstimate. Did you use warm or cold water?
    2) 60gms of tangzhong for 1 loaf. I made the tangzhong with your recipe above which came to about 77 gms. Wonder what the implications of using less or more tangzhong in a recipe.
    3) the use of brown sugar instead of white, just to see how the colouring turns out. The result is off white bread. Not yellow as I expected. I will probably try a different brown sugar in future.
    4) I rolled the dough after proofing resulting in a slightly different texture which I am happy with.

    The top crust of the bread was slightly darker (as good as near to burnt) than my first try. I am not sure if it’s because I am using a different oven than my first try. I was using my Mum’s over in my first try and mine yesterday. The colour using my Mum’s oven was golden brown and I was using milk was in both tries. Something to work on in my next try. What wash did you use?

    Overall, I am really happy with the results. Makes my day or even week 🙂 Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Hey Tan!
    So I actually use SAF yeast, which is a yeast that doesn’t require the use of warm water to re-activate. Did you use regular Active Dry yeast? That maybe why the bread took much longer to proof. After the second proofing, my bread was like 80% filling the pan, so the rest of its expanding (and eventually touching the top of the pullman pan) happened in the oven during the baking step.

    I’ve never weighed my tangzhong. I know that your loaf pan is a different size than mine so I would say if your results turned out well, stick to the tangzhong measurement that you had good results with. Tangzhong, since it’s flour hydrated with water, is more forgiving when added to a bread dough as opposed to adding straight water. The way I always determine if a bread dough is right is by touching it with my finger. The dough should have a slight tackiness without any actually sticking to your finger.

    I’ve never used brown sugar in my bread, but I imagine it would lend a slightly maltier taste to it? It would also make the bread a bit heavier since brown sugar has more moisture.

    The the dough rolling idea sounds cool! I was actually thinking of trying that out myself! Good one.

    Because I use a pullman loaf (with top covered), I don’t use any wash on my bread loaf. Different ovens are different, so I would say just always try to bake the loaf in the middle of the oven. Also, since your pullman is smaller than mine, you’d probably want to adjust the baking time. The best way to test any bread for doneness is to insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the loaf. When it registers 190 degrees F (87-88 degrees C), it’s done!

    Hope this helps, Tan! Happy to talk baking with you! =)

  6. Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoyed chatting on backing with you too. Am going to bake again today 🙂 Btw, I used milk powder for adults (Anlene brand). Wonder if it makes any difference with using those for babies. May give it a shot some time.

  7. Hello Bonnie. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I tried your recipe today. The dough, however, feels ‘dry’ and heavy. I have used King Arthur’s Pain De Mie recipe and it was elastic and stretchy. My yeast bubbles up so it is not the yeast. Any idea?

    • Hey there! Sorry for taking a while to get back to you. I wanted to make the recipe again before I responded to you since I haven’t made it in a while. I think the most likely issue with your experience of having a dry dough is the tangzhong. I know it has been a while, but do you happen to remember how much you had after making it? That is, were you able to measure the amount of tangzhong you made and were you able to use a thermometer when making it? If one is careful in measuring the temperature of the tangzhong (and not exceeding 150 degrees F), there should be exactly a 1/2 cup yield. My “about 1/3 cup” generalization is not sufficient enough of an explanation and I will be changing that. The ideal dough for this bread will be slightly tacky against your finger when you push into it, but won’t actually stick. In drier weather, I’ve only had to add 1-2 tsp more water then the recipe states to accommodate for the conditions. I hope this helps and that you can try the recipe again some time soon. Thanks for reaching out!

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