Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to Make Basic Sweet Bread Dough by Alex Goh

I haven't baked any bread for nearly 2 months, today is the perfect day to make some sweet bread since we are having a sunny 24 degree weather. No clouds, no wind, this is the best time to let the dough proof outdoors. It may well be the last warm day in September, since tomorrow is forecasted to be stormy weather again, argh! :(

Anyway back to my bread-making. I just made a sweet bread dough using a recipe taken out of Alex Goh's book, "Magic Bread". This book is part of the 5 cookbooks which I got a friend to bring from Singapore to Belgium. The other 2 Alex Goh baking books which I received are namely "Baking Code", and "Joy of Making Cookies". I am very excited about his books as I have heard so many rave reviews about his cakes and breads, and I can't wait to try my hands on his recipes. So you can expect that I will be trying out and "showing off" some of his recipes very soon on my blog. I would probably be making more bread than cakes/cookies from now on, as I have already figured that cakes and cookies have a causal effect on my bourgeoning waistline and flabby thighs. :P

Anyway here's sharing the sweet bread dough which I used to make sausage cheese bread.  

Recipe for making Basic Sweet Bread Dough, from Alex Goh's Magic Bread 

[Makes about 1000-1100 grams of sweet bread dough] 

100g bread flour
70g boiling water

300g bread flour
100g plain flour
80g sugar
6g salt (about 1 tsp)
20g milk powder (about 2 tbsp)
9g instant yeast (about 1 tbsp)

175g cold water
60g cold eggs (1 large egg)

60g butter (diced)

[Updated on 16/09/10 with detailed step-by-step pictures]

1. Add the boiling water from A into the flour and mix until well-blended to form dough. Cover and set aside to cool. Keep in the fridge for at least 12 hours. (This dough is called the "scalded dough" or the "gelatinized dough").

(Scalding the dough with boiling water increases the water-binding capacity of the dough, so that less moisture is lost during and after baking. Resting and chilling the dough overnight helps to make the dough stronger and more extensible, and hence easier to stretch and form into different shapes. )

2. (After 12 hours) Mix B until well-blended. Add in C and knead to form rough dough. Add in A (cut into small pieces) and knead until well-blended.

3. Add in D (cut into small pieces) and knead to form an elastic dough. 

As I only have a small handheld cake mixer, so I kneaded the dough using the dough hook for about 30 min, and then by hand for about 15 min. You can stop kneading when your dough is tacky, but not sticky or wet. It should be pliable, soft and moist. There are 2 tests to check if the dough has achieved the right consistency.  

(a) Membrane Test : Pinch a bit of the dough and try stretching the dough til as thin as a membrane without tearing. 

(b) Poke-A-Hole-Test : Poke a finger into the centre of the dough until it touches the bottom. The hole should remain and the dough should not spring back. I did both tests after 30 min of kneading with the dough hook. For the 1st test, I couldn't achieve a thin membrane without holes forming and for the 2nd test, the dough stuck to my finger and the hole sprung back immediately after poking! So I switched to kneading with my hands for about 15 min more until I managed to pass both tests. By the end of it, I had achieved a smooth and elastic dough. 

4. Let it proof for 40 min to 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

(Cover the dough with a greased clingwrap and put in a warm enclosed place, for eg an unheated oven with a bowl of boiling water inside. Covering with greased clingwrap and keeping in an enclosed place keeps it from drafts and prevents a crust from forming on the outside that slows or stops the rising process.)

After 1 hour of proofing
The dough was overflowing after 2 hours when I came back from dinner!
5. Divide the dough into required weight and mould it round. Cover and let it rest for 10 min and it is ready to use. 

You may like to try out the following breads made with sweet bread dough :
- Almond Raisin Bread - 16/9/2010
Butter Sugar Bun - 29/9/2010
- Ham and Cheese Bread - 27/9/2010
- Old-school Kaya Bun - 15/9/2011  
Rotiboy Bun (aka Mexican Coffee Bun) - 29/7/2012
- Sausage Cheese Bread - 11/9/2010
- Sesami Bun - 14/10/2010

Other Alex Goh bread recipes :
ABC Bread - 18/11/2010
- Japanese Sweet Potato Bread - 29/10/2010
- Pandan Kaya Bread - 29/04/2013
- Really Good Sandwich Bread - 22/9/2010
- Really Good Sandwich Bread (again) - 24/8/2013


  1. Love the explanations behind each step and the pictures! I look forward to trying his sweet bun dough recipe! (Ah....what to bake? Loaf or buns? Decisions decisions!)

  2. This method of dough making is very similar to tang zhong. I will try it, it seems very interesting :)
    Great recipe!

  3. I would love to try out this dough, but need to ask you one question: Do you bring the gelatinized Dough A to room temperature before combining it with Ingredients B+C (considering that A is kept for 12 hours in the fridge)?

    Also, how cold is the water in Ingredients C? Straight out of the fridge?

    I assume butter (Ingredients D) is at room temperature (rather than cold), since it would otherwise be impossible to incorporate it into the dough.

    I am surprised it takes the final dough only 40-60 min to double, considering that eggs and water are cold. Is that because the dough tends to get warmer during the long kneading?

  4. Hi Lena

    The first time that I did this dough, I just took the gelatinized dough straight out from the fridge, whereas the next few times I did let it adjust to room temp for a while before using. The book never mentioned it, I guess you could do both ways. Btw the gelatinized dough starter is not leavened up as there is no yeast added, it is a very small moist dough, and quite easy to handle. Forgot to mention it's better to cut the gelatinized dough into smaller pieces and add it piece by piece during beating.

    I used cold water from the running tap, my tap has both hot and cold water (we live in cold climate) and the cold water is really quite cold. For your case you can use a cup of water placed in the fridge.

    My butter was taken straight out from the fridge, I didn't have any problems with it as I was using cake mixer with dough hook to beat in the butter. I agree with you that it's better to bring it to room temp for it to be more easily incorporated.

    My dough took 1 hour to rise due to cold room temp. I put it in an enclosed oven with a big bowl of boiling water inside. There is quite a fair amount of instant yeast so I am not surprised that it will rise within an hour.

    Hope this answers all your questions. Happy bread-baking!

  5. Hi Miss B,
    Am just trying this one out. Gelatinised dough sitting in a ball in fridge to do it's chilling. Now to get the frozen char siu out to defrost before I go to bed so I can make char-siu (baked) buns tomorrow!

  6. Wow, how I admire u, I cant even get frozen char siew, have to make my own, bbrrrr. :S Remember to post them in your blog so that i can admire and drool. Hey u gonna be very busy tomorrow baking 2 types of breads. :)

  7. The frozen char siu is courtesy of my mum. She occasionally gives me char siu from the take-away. I put it in freezer as hubbs doesn't seem to like mum's char siu and I have to make my own (char-siu flavour from packet!) before he will eat it!
    Yup, busy bread baking day although I think the orange & choc should be simple - the machine does the hard work! ;0)
    Just been blog-surfing and was reminded of steamed char-siu buns! Not sure I took out enough char-siu for that though! Wouldn't it be crazy if I baked orange choc loaf & TWO types of char-siu buns! lol! Dream on ya daft plum and get to bed!

  8. Well, I didn't get very far in making "Baked Char Siu Bao" last wkend & I decided to bin the gelatinised dough after 3 days :0( just as well its only 100g bread flour!
    Anyway, made a new dough last night & only just got round to making the sweet bread dough now. So I'm using a 24hr gelatinised dough! I left the dough to mix & knead in the machine once the butter was added. Whilst I was slicing char siu & dicing onion, the dough became a beautiful, elastic, smooth dough that came away from the bowl! Usually there is a sticky looking mess at the bottom of the bowl. Now I know if the machine has kneaded it long enough it will incorporate everything together and become a stretchy, smooth dough.
    As it is late in the evening, I may shape & fill the buns then leave them to prove overnight in fridge. I hope I can find enough space for them!
    I'll bake them in the morning & have fresh baked buns to eat for breakfast! Mmmmm!

  9. OhMiWord! Fantastic bread! That recipe is fabulous! Thankyou! Wonderfully soft, moist, chewy bread! JUST like from the chinese bakery - but I saved myself £1 per bun!
    Shame hubbs doesn't like eh filling! All the more for me? Slurrrrrrp! :0p

  10. Hi Plumleaf, great that you like the sweet bread dough. You can try the almond raisin bread if your hubby prefers something sweet to savoury. I would love to make buns, but I haven't mastered the art of pleating and sealing the buns, what's more I would have to make my own filling such as kaya or red bean paste, that is a lot of work. Really have to learn from you :)

  11. My husband much prefers red bean paste - I honestly don't have the patience to soak, boil mash that from scratch! I have a can of red bean paste and my mum has given me a can of ready to eat red beans. I think I will mix the two so the paste has more texture to it - bit like the Japanese red bean paste.
    In all honesty, the bread I make from scratch it's the others where I cut corners!
    I may have to make a tuna bun as I really, really loved them when in Hong Kong!

  12. can u convert gram into cup for this recipe?

  13. Hi gcorvin,

    I always work with a baking scale because you have to be very exact in baking breads and cakes. But you can refer to a few sites to do the gram to cup conversion yourself, such as the ones below.

  14. I have just made this bread. 4 rolls and one plait. It is absolutely terrific. I did it as a savoury bread but will do the sweet one now.


  15. Hi Anonymous,
    Glad that the recipe turned out well for you :)

  16. hello!! I cant wait to try your recipe! I've nv baked bread before! just wma clarify, for step one right, what do you use to mix the flour and the boiling water? Dough hooks or spatula? For how long! Sorry, i m a complete newbie!!

  17. Hi Cat,

    Just use a spatula will do for step 1. It won't take long, only 2-3 minutes, just mix until it forms into a dough. Don't worry, I was also a newbie like you too, not too long ago, everybody has a first time trying out something new. Wish you success for your bread baking! :)

  18. Thanks for your step by step .. coz i tried to follow the recipe book but seems not as detailed as yours ... I only machine knead for 15mins and than too sticky to do by hand still so i just left it in a greased bowl to proof .. but surprisingly i still get soft bread in the end .. but next day the bread become a bit hard .. so i suppose i shld knead more ..

    I will follow ur step by step the next time i do and hope to get the same result as u! .. Thanks for your guide!!!

  19. Hi Cheria,

    Thanks for your comments.
    Yes, you should knead until the dough is not sticky to the touch. I always knead for 2 dough cycles in my bread machine, which is 2x20 = 40 min. And to prevent the bread from getting hard the next day, you always have to keep the bread in a bag and seal it properly to avoid air from getting inside.

  20. HI,

    I'm really really new to baking (and bread making) and had just tried this recipe yesterday. Just want to find out, how does it taste like for the bread final product?
    This is because I'm not sure if its so or is it I had over-bake/knead the flour or what. The bread is soft, but kind of chewy and got elastic feel. Is the bread texture so? Or??
    Would appreciate advice, thanks.

  21. Hi Wendy,

    Did you follow the recipe exactly? How long did you knead the bread, by hand or by machine? Did you make the gelatinized dough 12h in advance and keep it covered n the fridge? Did you bake it as a loaf bread or did you follow one of the recipes to make it into sweet bun?

    Yes, the end result should be soft, chewy and elastic, with a little tinge of sweetness. This is a typical Asian style sweet bread, unlike the typical Western style bread which is firmer and less elastic in texture.

    1. Hi Miss B,

      Thanks for the fast reply :)

      Yes, I follow the recipe exactly, or nearly, as my weighing machine is not digital type, thus, there may have 1-2 gm diff due to the needle pointing. I do by hand as no machine, as I'm not very familier with the kneading, I do take a long time doing it as its still in sticky form. Had knead till its tacky but it doesn't pass the 1st test, thus had cont'd knead till both test pass, it took a long long time. Had checked the web on the kneading period and realised mine is way too long :) I think it may be due to the limited space thou and I'm using one hand instead of both initially as the other was holding on to the paper the dough was laying on to prevent it moving about. Will do better next time.

      Yes, did the gelatinized dough 12hr in adv and put in fridge when its cool (its boiling water, right? not boil and cool down a bit). I do into small bun, was testing out the diff design and feel of the dough too.

      So, the texture is chewy and elastic, it's ok? I thought it will be soft and flurry at the end.
      Btw, how long can it last if we keep in airtight container? I read some where that if can't finish, can put inside freezer and than warm it up few mins. If there's other ingredients within the bread, will it be the same procedure too? or??

      Thanks for the help, have a nice day.


    2. If you knead by hand, you should knead with both hands on a generously floured table top. If you have a hand-held mixer (or better still a stand-mixer), use it to knead the dough in the beginning stage when it is very sticky, then once it is less sticky, you can then continue to knead by hand or by mixer. But don't use a hand-held mixer to knead longer than 5 min at one time else it will be over-heated.

      Yes, gelatinized dough should be scalded using boiling water.

      Well, the dough texture should also be soft and fluffy, not flurry. It should still taste good the next day if you keep it wrapped in a airtight bag and then in a bread box or container. Yes, you can put the bread in a ziploc bag and freeze it to preserve the freshness, then warm it in the oven in future when you feel like eating it.

      Now, since this bread is homemade and no additives, conservatives or bread improver are added, it may not be as "soft" as you wish it to be the 2nd day. But do note that all those commericialized breads that you buy from the supermarts in Singapore such as Gardenia or Sunshine, are actually loaded with additives that keep them soft for weeks and weeks! If you put them exposed in the open, it may take days or weeks for moulds to appear! Even freshly baked breads from the best belgian bakery (there is one voted the best in my neighbourhood) don't taste as good the next day, so it's normal, it shows the bakers here don't put additives in their bread.

  22. Hi Miss B

    Thanks so much for the reply, I'm deeply appreciated :)

    I have a decade old (or 2 decade old??) mixer, which I used for other baking stuff like swiss roll and cake recipe. But, I read that for dough mix, its different kind pieces for mixture which I don't think I have (or it's different design now that I can't a picture now via Google to know). There's why I do by hand.

    I had just put the bread in a airtight container without ziplock bag. The bread is still soft and taste good on 2nd day, but on 3rd day (left only about 4 buns) its kind of hard on the outside crust. Noted on the bread mfger that you had mentioned, and I feel kind of good knowing I'm not eating any additives now.

    I'm thinking if I'm to made it to a loaf size instead of bun, but due to the freshness and eating fresh, that meant I had to do a small loaf instead of the size that I saw your bread loaf recipe (eg earl grey tea loaf and milk loaf), that look kinna big size for a family of two to finish within 3 days (max) :) if i'm to freeze them and reheat, how long will the after reheat be like? Had you tried that?


    1. Hi Wendy,

      Yes you are right, for kneading dough, a dough hook is required for the mixer. When I first started making bread, I didn't own a bread machine yet, and I used my hand-held mixer with cake hook to knead the dough. But I overheated the mixer by using it more than 5 min and it broke down subsequently. It is not optimal if you are not using a dough hook, but it's better than using hands, since the dough is very sticky in the beginning.

    2. If your bread is still soft on the 2nd day, you should feel proud of your bread-making skills! As I said, to expect home-made bread without additives to taste as soft on the 3rd day, that is a tall order! The crust will turn hard, that is due to exposure to air, so-called oxidation. In Belgium, almost everybody goes early in the morning to buy freshly-baked bread from the bakery, bcos overnight bread is not as soft.

      If you wanna do a loaf just for 2 persons, you have to half the recipe, so that the weight of the finished bread will be 500g instead of 1 kilo. I personally have not frozen any breads (though my husband claimed to have done so) cos we always finish them within 2 days. You can thaw it immediately in the oven on the lowest shelf, say about 120-140 degrees celsius for 5-10 min? I am not too sure about the exact temperature or timing, you have to try it out yourself. Microwave is also possible. :)

    3. Hi Miss B,

      Ya, I'm still happy that I can made bread and its edible on 1st trial, I may be deceiving myself that its still soft based on my 'squeezing' the side of the bun *LOL* but it definetly taste good on 2nd day hahaaa :)

      I will try the loaf bread next weekend as I need to search for a kneading mat due to limit space and counter-top and I really didnt want to knead that long again, its lucky for me the bread that come out still look and taste like bread. Read that over kneading of dough will not cause the bread to be success. More exercise next week and hope this time, the time I took to knead the flour is shorter and the 2 test pass.

      I will take a slice and test it by wrap freezing it and thaw it after and see the result. We are only at home in the morning and night (Dad is at day care center with food provided thus no need to bring bread :) only me maybe can bread to work for tea break), thus, hope that the bread loaf will last longer.

      Read that we can freeze the dough in freezer and when need to bake, bring it out to thaw and let it proof after certain period, am tempting to try and see the result. As in this case, I can bake whenever thaw->proof->bake the dough when I need it. But lets take it one step at a time thou :)

      Thanks and best Regards

  23. Hi Miss B,

    It's Eve again. I tried this dough and it turned out great! the best thing about it is how versitile it is!. i couldnt decide between butter sugar, sausage and cheese and sunflower and pumpkin i did all 3 - 4 buns each! the butter sugar didnt turn out as exciting as the other 2 but the dough was great. soft and moist even on day 2. my family loves cranberries so maybe i will try making some buns with cranberries in them the next time.

    1. Hi Eve,

      Really glad to hear that! Do you like coconut filling or kaya spread? You can try my old-school kaya buns or old-school coconut buns with homemade fillings, those buns that you only find in old-school bakeries in Singapore nowadays! And if you like to try baking your own white sandwich loaf, you can try my recent "really good sandwich bread" posted in Aug 2013. The Alex Goh sweet potato bread is also quite nice :)

  24. Hi Miss B, I was looking at the cheesy apricot jam bread. Noticed that the dough is different from the sweet bread. Would it be better if I used the other dough or this dough?

    1. Hi Eve,
      Oh that cheesy apricot jam roll was done before I attempted this sweet bread dough, it's completely different, there is no overnight dough starter, and you dun have to knead that long, can't remember how long, maybe 10 min will do, until it's non-stick to the touch. It doesn't have to pass the membrane test or poke-a-hole test either.

      For that recipe, you are welcome to use the sweet bread dough if you can afford the time. But you will have to reduce the sweet bread dough recipe (which yields about 1 kg to 1.1 kg of dough), since I have not tried making it using sweet bread dough.

  25. Hi

    How have you been? Since my last comment here in Aug'13, Just to report in since I sort of access to Alex Goh recipe via this blog.

    I had tried out a couple of Alex Goh recipe along with others. Some how or other, i will get back to this basic dough for making as it still soft even till 3rd day :)

    Had you tried his bread loaf with whipping cream recipe? Its great :)
    I used the recipe but with different design lar :) hahaha... And once, I had been short-minded. I have some whipping cream left that's enough for the recipe. I put everything inside and seeing the bottle containing the cream still have bit, I pour water in and mix (I still go and weight the water content to take note of the water ingredients portion). In the end, I didnt add any milk in as the water used for clearing the cream had taken its porportion.. But this doesn't affect the taste at all. It just made the bread loaf more tasty than the 1st time I made it.

    I had tried to do the pork floss, but somehow, I couldn't roll the dough out as I want to my mini swiss roll pan. But it still turn out great :) Mayo taste great (beside the bread itself) .


    1. Hi Wendy,
      I'm fine, thank you. Just came back from SG last week.
      No, I haven't tried the sweet bread dough with whipping cream, but I recently make the Hokkaido milk loaf which involved the use of whipping cream and milk. It was very soft indeed and the softness lasted for quite a few days. Maybe you would like to try it, it's under Oct 2013.

  26. Hi all,

    I'm just wondering if buns with filling (e.g red bean buns/ kaya buns) can be stored in fridge for a couple of days so that it will last longer and heated up before consumption?

    If stored in open (not in fridge), how long can they last?

    Thank you.

  27. Dear all,

    Can breads with filling (e.g red bean bread/ kaya bread) be stored in fridge for a couple of days and heated up before consumption?

    If such breads are stored out in open, how long can they last?

    Thank you,

  28. Hi Lew,
    They can definitely be stored in the fridge and heated up in the oven or microwave just before consumption. As to how long they can keep in the open, if you are talking about Singapore or Malaysia, I seriously have no idea cos I currently stay in Belgium where the room temp is always kept at 20 degrees celsius. I never had an oven in Singapore and only started baking here.

    Maybe Wendy or Eve can help to answer ?

  29. Hi

    I have not made bread bun with paste fillings before thus I cannot tell you if it can last long.

    I had only done bun with other fillings, like hotdog/sausage with cheese/mayo (yet to do any paste fillings yet, will be on my to do list next year hahaa). If using Alex Goh's recipe as above, I had kept the bread bun in airtight container in room temp (Singapore weather) and can last about 3 to 4 days. More than 3 days is what my other friend told me, I can't really tell from my experience because the bread at my house all finish by 3rd day :)


  30. Thanks for the great recipe
    it's look nice, would like to make it :)

  31. Hi...thanks for the detailed recipe. I tried making bread teice using tangzhong method but failed. Both time the surface of the bread is hard. And by the next day inside is hard as well.
    I do not own any mixer with dough hood or bread maker. Both time i knead by hand.
    Any advise if i want to make this recipe how lobg should i knead by hand in total.
    Please help...


    1. Hi Lou,
      If you knead by hand, you need to knead at least as long as the bread machine/stand-mixer, or even longer, which is at least 40 min. You should only stop if your dough can pass the 2 tests I described above.
      But the hard surface of your bread, could be due to the temp of your oven. Is your oven too hot? Did you place your bread too close to the top of the oven?

  32. Hi.. I used a bread machine to knead for almost an hour but it still is sticky and cannot pass the membrane test. Is it possible to over knead?

    1. If it's too sticky, you should add a little flour along the way. The kneading time given is based on my BM, every BM is different. You should take it out and knead on table top if this happens. Dust the table top with flour and grease your hands with oil.
      Yes, it's possible to overknead if you use machine instead of by hand. You will realise that an oven-kneaded dough is hard to integrate new folds and it tears easily because the gluten has become so tight. The result will be a hard crust and a dense dry interior and very crumbly.

  33. 70g water = 70 ml right?

    Upon adding the boiling water, what should the dough look like? 'Cause mine looked a little dry and rough. It's not a sticky dough. Did I do it correctly?

  34. Is 70g of water = to 70 ml? 'Cause when I added the water to the 100 g flour, I mixed it using my hands and I ended up having a dry, kinda rough dough. Is it supposed to be sticky?

    1. Hi Grace,
      I just measured 70g of water with my scale. I mixed using a rubber spatula until a rough dough was formed, then I used my hands to shape into a ball. The dough was just a little sticky but it was not as liquid or sticky as tangzhong. Yout don't have to knead too long, just 2 to 3 min. I think what you did was correct.

  35. Glad to hear that! :) I was actually expecting a dough that is like tangzhong, that's why I doubted myself if I did it correctly :)

    It's my first time baking bread so I hope this turns out yummy! haha I will tell you about my results :bd

  36. Hi! I used this recipe and the bread turned out great! I put some 'transparent mayo' and chicken floss on top. It was really soft and tasty. Not bad for my first time baking bread! :)

    I just want to clarify something... in the kneading the dough, we have to add some flour to reduce the stickiness of the dough, right? What should be the maximum amount of flour (in cups or grams) can be added to the dough without significantly altering the flour to water ratio?

    1. Hi Grace,
      There is no way you can add flour to the dough without affecting the dough to liquid ratio, every gram of flour added reduces your hydration ratio (liquid to flour). If you add flour more than what is necessary, it affects your dough - your dough becomes denser and heavier, it doesn't rise as much and the finished bread will be more crumbly. So I would suggest that you grease your hands and the table top with a neutral-flavoured vegetable oil (olive oil excluded unless it is an olive oil bread), and you will be able to handle very sticky dough without adding much flour.

    2. I am not saying you should not add any additional flour, just don't add too much. Unless the recipe is not accurate in its measurements. Using greased hands and greased table top would help a lot in kneading and shaping your dough, try it !

  37. Hello missB tried your sweet bread recipe and must say came out great it was similar to Hokkaido bread which I made from your recipe and I enjoyed making it and eating it
    Thanks for sharing

  38. Can I just use plain flour and not bread flour as I don't have it at hand? :(

  39. Can I just use plain flour and not bread flour as I don't have it at hand? :(


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