Vegan Pandan Hokkaido Milk Bread = the most addictive vegan loaf you will EVER eat! LOOK at that GLAZE. This recipe for the iconic Asian-style milk bread is spectacularly golden and shiny on the outside and springy on the inside. I challenge anyone to spot the lack of dairy and eggs in the finished loaf.
Say hello to ultimate vegan recipe for soft, fluffy, Asian-style bread (also known as Hokkaido milk bread) with a tender-but-chewy texture. Unique due to its water-roux starter technique, this recipe makes for an addictive vegan sweet bread that you can just tear layer by layer. Perfect with butter and jam for breakfast.
The squishy green dough can be baked inside a loaf tin, formed into pull-apart buns and even turned into breakfast muffins.
How to serve Vegan Pandan Hokkaido Milk Bread
The subtle sweetness and pandan flavour of the milk bread is the perfect partner for pillowy-soft bread and makes it hopelessly addictive. One bite of vegan milk bread is never enough. Pair with jam, butter or a cup of coffee for a tea-time treat. Or tear chunks off whilst it’s hot out of the tin and devour. I won’t tell.
What is Tangzhong?
The process of making Vegan Pandan Hokkaido Milk Bread begins with a method called tangzhong . This is to first cook a small amount of the flour (my recipe calls for 10%) with water to create a paste that is similar to a roux in French cookery. Tangzhong is a technique which has been used in Asian baking, namely in Japanese and Chinese cuisines for centuries.
The method of heating flour with water activates the starch in the flour and creates a perfectly-hydrated dough filled with tiny air bubbles. This gives the final loaf a soft, springy texture. Honestly, the tangzhong dough is extremely sticky, due to the extra moisture so it’s a challenge to knead by hand. Yet, my stand mixer is very loyal and does all the hard kneading job for me.
Making this vegan milk bread really is a magical process as well as a cathartic baking project. Kids will also love helping rolling up the dough up into spirals, too. Bodhi was mainly interested in the squishing part… Can you tell?
What is Pandan?
In South Asia and Southeast Asia, pandan is as common a flavoring as vanilla is in the West. The flavour is sweet and floral like vanilla but with a subtle, marshmallowy and grassy dimension which is difficult to describe to the uninitiated. It’s widely used in savoury cooking as well as baking and sweets. Pandan paste is easy to find in Asian supermarkets and a little goes a long way. If you’re lucky enough to find fresh pandan leaves, you can make your own pandan juice. I reduce it down to a pulp with water and strain. Also, fresh leaves are also amazing when added to a pot of steaming rice.
More Flavour Ideas for Vegan Hokkaido Milk Bread
- Omit the pandan extract for a plain vegan Hokkaido milk loaf that’s slightly sweet and perfect for PB&J sandwiches and French Toast.
- Add 1 tbsp (yes 1 tbsp) of vanilla extract to give your bread a beautiful bakery flavour.
- Grate in the zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons if you like your bakes to have a citrus hit.
- You could also spread the inside of the rolls with your favourite chocolate spread, vegan citrus curd or jam for that sweet roll finish.
My ultra-shiny egg-free glaze comes from a simple mixture of agave, coconut milk and turmeric. No yolks required! The sweetness from the agave helps the top caramelise. Bonus! The turmeric adds a hint of yellow for that eggwash feel. It’s perfect for baking. When glazing savoury pies and pastries, I omit the agave and simply use any plant milk + turmeric.
- 40 g strong white bread flour
- 200 ml water
For the milk bread:
- 400 g strong white bread flour
- 2 tbsp coconut milk powder
- 2 tsp pandan paste
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 125 ml full-fat coconut milk warmed to
- 80 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 80 g vegan butter room temperature
For the vegan “eggwash”:
- 2 tbsp agave
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the flour and water. Stir continuously for 4-5 minutes or until the starter thickens to the consistency of mashed potato or a thick roux, about 65°C/150°F if you have a cooking thermometer. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to sit until the starter gets to room temperature.
Making the dough:
- Add the coconut milk, sugar and pandan paste to a saucepan and heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature to about 38°C/100°F or just warm. Now add the yeast and stir. Set aside for 10 minutes until frothy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the bread flour, coconut milk powder, and salt. Once mixed, add in the warm milk and tangzhong starter. Whisk until just combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead the dough at medium-high speed for 10 minutes.
- With the mixer still running, add the soft vegan butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. It will feel like a lot of butter but keep it going – it will be absorbed into the dough the longer it is kneaded. Turn the speed up to high and beat for a final 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to sit for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Shaping the dough:
- Knock the air out of the risen dough and knead briefly to remove any large air pockets. Divide the dough into 14 equal parts (about 90g each). Keep the cut dough under cling film to prevent it from drying out or forming an unwanted skin.
- Take one portion of the dough and roll into a long oblong, about 5cm (2") wide and 10cm (4") in length. Starting from the end closest to you, roll the dough into a log. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Place the first seven logs seam-side up in a well-greased loaf tin (size: 1800g/4lb) for the first layer and for the second layer, place the logs seam-side down. Cover the loaf tin with cling film and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes, until the dough has doubled in volume.
- Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
For the vegan “eggwash":
- Combine all the ingredients for the vegan "eggwash". Gently brush on top of the risen dough.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top of the bread is a nice golden brown. If the bread top colours too quickly, place a foil tent over it to prevent it from burning.
- Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 5 minutes before unmolding (wearing oven gloves). the loaf should slip out easily once inverted. Allow the loaf to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
- You can turn this bread dough into a bun recipe too. Divide the dough into 14 pieces, roll into balls, transfer to a greased pan, and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown on top.
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If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Indian-Inspired Rocky Road