Hawaiian style bread is a holiday favorite for many of us and fills out any menu. Now you don’t have to wait for that special meal, or break the bank, we show you how to make it yourself with all the sweet bread yum, hot and fresh. Shape this Hawaiian bread dough as rolls, loaves or more to make any meal complete, as we walk you through each step along the way.
It’s always funny when something hits your own horizon, and then you find out that it has been around for many, many decades. King’s Hawaiian bread is one of those for me. Vague memories of seeing them on the shelf as a youngling, but mom never bought them, then actually trying their products well into adulthood. Then the big reveal that they’ve actually been around longer than you’ve been alive.
Starting as Robert’s Bakery in Honolulu 1950, this family business moved to King Street a decade-plus later and adopted the name King’s Bakery. Fast forward over another decade-plus and they expanded to the mainland and took on the name we all now know, King’s Hawaiian.
History and accuracy
As recently as 2021 people were suing (and losing to) the manufacturer because the product is no longer made in Hawaii. Which is pretty clearly stated on the label. Frankly, I’d rather the bread was not on a long boat trip before it was on my table. The other aspect of the suit said they didn’t use traditional ingredients, and again the labelling is straightforward. But that brooks an interesting question, what are the traditional ingredients?
This type of sweet yeast bread was very popular with the Portuguese denizens of the islands, a tradition they brought with them from their homeland. With a high butter and egg content, they border on a brioche. But the traditional dishes were often flavored with honey, lemon, or other juice. Which in Hawaii, was often pineapple juice. Interestingly, pineapple juice is not an ingredient listed in King’s Hawaiian products.
Including pineapple juice when making this bread just seems to make sense. And it also blends in really well with the flavors. You will not take a bite a say ‘this has pineapple juice in it’, the flavors are very subtle.
The yellow hues come more from egg yolks more than the juice. Like many dishes, distinctive flavors are blended in to create a great whole flavor profile while not leaping out at all. That’s the role of pineapple in this dish.
Eggs, butter and milk are harbingers of a brioche style bread. This recipe veers away from that, in a couple directions. First off, it is more straightforward at the mixing stage. Brioche calls for slowly working the butter into the dough, and to be fair they use a much higher percentage of butter. That being said, it is somewhat of a pain to blend in at multiple stages.
From the same page as brioche, an overnight fermentation of the yeast dough is a necessary step for both breads to get great results. That time allows the dough to shift into a silkier result, that gives you an almost delicate texture to your bread or rolls.
Hawaiian Bread Making Tips
This will be a soft moderately sticky dough to start with. It will become somewhat less so after the first rise/fermentation, and being refrigerated. After that step, when you turn it on to the counter or a board, make sure it is well floured to keep it from sticking. Continue to keep things well floured as you shape the rolls for the proof stage.
Shaping the dough individually will give you the best results. Some recipes will call for putting dough in the pan and making cuts to define your shape such as a grid pattern for dinner rolls. This technique will tend to make them harder to separate. Even if you put the individually shaped ones close together, they still separate much easier with less tearing.
This is a lively dough. Our pan came out slightly more crowded than hoped. In the past we’ve done the bun shape well-spaced to get a classic round result. The only negative to closer spacing is that the dough pushes up instead of out, creating a taller end result. Not a big deal. So, you can choose what result you are looking for, you can shape anything from a loaf to dinner rolls to round buns…almost whatever you want.
Hawaiian Bread Recipe
- 1½ Cups Pineapple juice
- ½ Cup Milk
- ¾ Cup Granulated sugar
- 2¾ Teaspoons Granulated yeast (typically one packet)
- 5 Eggs Divided
- 1 Tablespoon Fine ground salt
- 6-7 Cups Bread flour or AP flour
- Add room temp milk and pineapple juice to bowl with yeast
- Melt butter
- Let both sit for 10 minutes
- Add 4 eggs and blend in cooled butter
- Add 3 cups flour mix until smooth
- Switch to dough hook add 3 more cups flour and blend
- Continue adding flour until dough pulls from bowl
- Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, then flip over exposing an oiled surface
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
- Remove and allow an hour to come up to room temperature, dough should be about doubled in size
- Turn from bowl onto a well-floured counter or board
- Shape dough into round and let rest for 10 minutes
- Cut dough into strips then into individual pieces
- Roll into evenly sized balls, flatten them slightly
- Space evenly on parchment lined baking sheet
- Allow to rise until doubled in size
- Preheat oven to 350
- Whisk one egg with a tablespoon of water
- Brush rolls well with egg wash
- Bake until browned and hollow sounding when bottom of the pan is tapped
- Let cool slightly, separate, split and serve. Enjoy.