Tangzhong Milk Bread Dough – Pandan Custard Buns

These custard buns are filled with a Thai-inspired coconut and real pandan custard, and topped with toasted coconut!

This bread recipe is very versatile – the tangzhong keeps the bread soft longer than other types of bread! Here I use my friend Sara’s amazing Thai pandan coconut custard recipe for some pillow-custard buns (she was kind enough to let me post it here hehe). Check out her foodstagram @sara_eats_texas – she also sells authentic Thai goodies and the occasional rotating entree @thidjai !

I used to use pandan extract, but Sara definitely made me convert to real pandan leaves; there’s so much more flavor..and it’s more accessible and surprisingly cheaper than you think!

My mom grows her own, but for some reason they don’t have the same flavor as the ones grown in Thailand or Vietnam – maybe it’s the climate? In any case, it’s definitely more convenient to just find frozen pandan leaves! They’re imported straight from Vietnam and Thailand and you can find great frozen pandan leaves at your local Asian grocery store (also what I learned from Sara, she knows a lot lol); I found them at all of my local Vietnamese markets. They’re either in the frozen vegetable section with the banana leaves or in those aisle open freezers – now go forth and make a bunch of pandan goodies with this knowledge!


Makes 5 custard buns

For the tangzhong:

25g bread flour

80g water

For the bread:

all of the tangzhong dough

188g bread flour

20g sugar

10g milk powder

4g instant yeast

3g salt

90g milk

25g (2 Tbsp) butter

1 egg, for egg wash

For the Thai pandan custard (@saraeatstexas recipe)

65g pandan leaves, cut into 1 inch pieces

160g evaporated milk

60g water

50g cornstarch

5 large egg yolks

280g coconut milk

50g sugar

100g condensed milk

pinch of salt

shredded coconut to top


For the tangzhong:

Mix together the flour and water with a spatula in a small saucepan. Cook and heat it over low heat, vigorously stirring it until it becomes thick like pudding but not too thick.

Take the pan off the heat and transfer the paste into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so water won’t escape. Let it cool to room-temperature or cool in the fridge.

For the bread dough:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all the ingredients, except butter, and mix together with a spatula until partially incorporated.

With a dough hook, knead for a couple minutes until everything is cohesive. Add in the softened butter.

Knead on high for about 12-15 minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic, and passes the windowpane test (when you stretch out a piece of dough thinly, it won’t break right away and you can see your fingers through it.

Shape the dough into a ball by tucking it under itself. Place in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or moist towel and let the dough proof for 1 hour until doubled.

Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.


Deflate the dough by punching it down. Turn out the dough onto a clean surface. Divide into 5 equal pieces, I use a scale. Cover loosely with plastic wrap to avoid it getting dry.

Knead a dough portion slightly to get rid of air bubbles. Fling a dough portion against the surface to loosen and relax the dough.

Flatten each portion, and add about 35-45g (or however much you want to fit) of pandan custard.

Enclose the custard by wrapping the dough around it and pinching it into a ball.

Place pinched side-down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

2nd Proof and Bake:

Preheat oven to 355F. Proof for 20-30 minutes.

When done proofing, brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden-browned and fully cooked.

You can freeze these by storing in a freezer bag, thawing in the fridge the day before serving, and airfrying at 300F for 3-5 minutes until warm, or in an oven at 350F for 5 minutes.