How to Make Hainanese Bread

Hainanese bread was something we grew up eating at the kopitiam (coffee shop) on the top floor of the wet market in my hometown of Seremban (Pasar Besar Seremban, which incidentally burned down quite recently). It was tall and fluffy with a texture I haven’t been able to find among the myriad varieties of bread here in Australia, and it was traditionally toasted on charcoal fire, and served with lashings of kaya and generous thick slices of butter.

I went through a spell when I would bake this bread 2-3 times a week; however, it’d been months since I stopped doing so at the time of this Live Asian Kitchen broadcast, so I kind of messed up one of the steps. Just a heads-up. Another heads-up – the pics of the bread in this post were from early efforts at the recipe; they should really look a lot fluffier and lighter.


Hainanese Bread


110g bread flour

125ml water


270g bread flour

20g bread improver

8g yeast

2 Tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

100ml water

50g butter


    1. Combine 110g bread flour and 125ml water; mix well and cook, stirring, until it reaches 65’C. Much easier if you own a Thermocook or a Thermomix, which is how I do this step. This is called tang zhong and it should look like a paste. Allow to cool.
    1. Combine all other ingredients in a dough mixer, add the tang zhong, and knead for 20 minutes. Dough should be elastic.
    1. Remove dough hook, cover and rest the dough until doubled in size.
    1. Transfer dough onto work surface and flatten into a rectangular shape about 7×4 inches.
    1. Roll up the long end of the dough, then transfer into a deep and tall bread tin with straight sides. I don’t actually own a tin like that so I used to rig my regular bread tin with 6 chopsticks held together with kitchen string to create height. It didn’t always work so in this video I used cardboard wrapped in foil. If you can’t be bothered you could split the dough into 2 bread pans (I often did that too).
    1. Allow dough to proof until it’s risen 3x in height.
  1. Bake for 40 minutes at 190’C.

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