Sourdough Discard Butter Milk Buns

Circular aluminum trays fill with golden, buttery, ultra soft milk buns are a common sight in my parents home growing up. The simple buttery milk bun is the most common (not to be confused with Butter Milk Bun), but occasionally we have ones with raisin or filled with coconut paste.

I didn’t realized there was another kind: Butter Milk Buns, not to be confused with buttermilk buns, or buttery milk buns. On instagram, one of my fellow bakers, Grace, posted buns filled with red bean paste and butter milk paste (her favorite) and reminisced on their nostalgia factor. Red bean is very familiar, but I never heard of butter milk paste before– or maybe I have had it but never knew what it was called. I knew I have to give it a try so I DMed her asking for the paste recipe and the rest is history!

So her original recipe calls for:

53g butter
33g icing sugar
1/6 tsp salt
1/3 egg
1 tbsp corn flour
66g milk powder
1 tbsp custard powder

However, I didn’t have access to custard powder. She described custard powder as a combination of milk powder, egg yolk and sugar so I made adjustments in the recipe to accommodate the ingredients I do have.

The paste is light in color when I mixed it together, so I decided to pair it with white milk buns to emphasize the contrast between the filling and bread. White milk buns are just milk buns without egg, like the snowy white Japanese shokupan aka “hokkaido milk buns”. When baked, the paste turns a beautiful golden honeycomb color that truly stands out against the white of the bun. For more richness, an egg is advised, so I added a note about that in the recipe.

The flavors of the buns came out, surprising familiar! It sorta remind me of the coconut paste filled buns I had growing up, but minus the coconut. Its sweet, buttery and milky– a delightful simple filling.

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Sourdough Discard Butter Milk Buns

Milk buns filled with sweet, buttery and milky paste– a delightful simple filling to level up your bread!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Rise time6 hours
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bread, pastry, sourdough, sourdough discard
Servings: 4 buns



  • 10 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g water

Butter Milk Filling

  • 23 g butter room temperature
  • 10 g powdered sugar
  • 25 g egg ~1/2 an egg. Use the other half for an egg wash.
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 40 g milk powder
  • pinch salt

Milk bread

  • 60 g sourdough starter or active discard
  • 85 g bread flour
  • 20 g heavy cream
  • 20 g sugar
  • 10 g unsalted butter
  • 1.5 tsp milk powder
  • pinch of salt

Egg wash (optional)

  • 25 g egg
  • 1.5 tsp milk


  • Make the Tangzhong ~1 hours before making the dough. Combine flour and milk in a pan and heat it on medium heat, constantly mixing until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.
  • Mix the Tangzhong and all the bread ingredients together until a rough dough forms. Using your fingers, spread on the butter and pinch, fold and knead to incorporate. Transfer the dough onto a work surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic ~10-15 minutes by hand.
  • For the next ~4 hours, stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes by taking the dough from the sides, stretch it up and fold it over the top of the dough. Rotate and repeat until you have stretch and folded all the sides ~6 S&F.
  • Divide dough into equal pieces and roll into a smooth ball. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, make the butter milk filling: first cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Then, mix in egg until the mixture is light and fluffy. Finally, add in salt, corn starch and milk powder. The mixture should be thick. Divide into 4 equal pieces and roll into balls.
  • Flatten the dough balls into a circle. Add the butter milk filling to the center and enclose it with dough, pinches the ends closed. Tightly roll into smooth balls and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest. Let rise ~2-3 hours.
    butter milk buns process
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Make the egg wash and brush it on top on the risen dough. Alternatively, you can brush the top of the dough with warm milk, cream or coconut cream. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top turns golden brown.


*milk: for a richer buns, replace milk with 20g of egg. 
Credits: Butter milk paste recipe adapted from thebakedbeaan

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