Sweet Buns Go Soft

I have a sickness. When I crave for something, it will go on my (almost) daily food schedule until I’m absolutely sick and tired of it. And it happens so often. One time I kept eating steamed coconut cakes, which were expensive, to start with. Another time, to many Atkin’s dieters’ dismay, too often, I ate glutinous rice for breakfast. I can’t help it. Like I said, it’s a sickness.

Odd enough, or not, when it comes to chocolate and bread, I never get tired. It’s a strange chemistry, but I’m glad it’s so. Take these sweet buns for instance. Whenever I’m in a Cantonese bakery, I can’t pass these up. I guess I just couldn’t get enough of them. They resemble rows of sweet yeasty pillows, which were simply irresistible on their own. Delicious, I’d say.

Then came along this recipe. I practically jumped for joy at the sight of it. I needn’t spend more than a couple of bucks on a bag of these. Rather, I could make it in my very own home. What could be better than potpourri but the smell of freshly baked bread? Be it at midnight or 4am, the smell of bread is what I love most. Never mind the long, draggy process of kneading and rising, the end result is more than worth it.

Ask me if I’d eat this for as long as I live? You’ve got a definite yes.

Hong Kong Sweet Buns

from Christine’s Recipes

prepare two loaf tins, 12cmx22cmx6cm each

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This recipe yields incredibly soft bread. Unfortunately, as much as its name suggests, I didn’t find the bread sweet at all. If I’m wrong, do correct me. Otherwise, since it isn’t sweet, this recipe is perfect for improvising. Make tuna buns, sausage buns, cheese buns, or whatever your imagination calls for. It is pretty darn good bread!

  • 370 g (13 oz) bread flour
  • 65 g (2.3 oz) caster sugar
  • 5 g (1 tsp) salt
  • 12 g (1 tbsp) full cream milk powder
  • 6 g (2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30 g (1.05 oz) whisked egg
  • 125 g (1/2 C) milk
  • 120 g (4.2 oz) tangzhong (see below)
  • 28 g (1 oz) condensed milk
  • 75ml (2.5 liquid oz) whipping cream
  • 35 g (2 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

NB: Hopefully you guys have a weighing scale simply because it makes everything so easier. (:

  1. Add all ingredients (except butter) into a breadmaker, first the wet ingredients (milk, cream, egg, tangzhong), then followed by the dry ingredients (salt, sugar, milk powder, bread flour, yeast). (Note: I used to make a small well in the bread flour, then add the yeast into it.) Select the “dough” mode (refer to the menu of your breadmaker to select the kneading dough program). When all ingredients come together, add butter, continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. (The time of kneading in my breadmaker is about 30 minutes.) Then let the dough complete the 1st round of proofing, about 40 minutes, best temperature for proofing is 28C, humidity 75%, until double in size.
  2. Without the breadmaker: Use a sturdy stand mixer like the kitchenaid. Place all your ingredients together (except the butter) and mix them up with a paddle attachment. Once combined, add the butter. You can knead the dough with either the paddle or hook attachment, though I find it easier with the paddle. Knead on medium high speed till the dough clings on to the paddle/hook, away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will look smooth and elastic, yet a little sticky still.
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide into 6 equal portions. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  4. [Picture tutorial is on her website] Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Fold 1/3 from top edge to the middle and press. Then roll to the bottom. Pinch to seal. Turn seal downward. Roll and stretch to about 20cm in length. With seal downward, place in the loaf tin. Repeat this step with the rest of the dough. Let proof in the tins, covered with cling wrap. The best temperature for 2nd round proofing is 38C, humidity 85%.
  5. When the dough rises and almost reaches to the rim of the load tins, lightly brush the surface with whisked egg. Bake in a pre-heated 180C (356F) oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until turns brown. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. [You can tent the loaf with foil to prevent the top of your bread from burning]
Tang zhong/Water Roux Starter
makes enough for 2 loaves, with a little leftover

50gm (1/3 cup) bread flour
250ml (1 cup) water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)
  1. Mix flour in water well without any lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking while you cook along the way.
  2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon. It’s done. You get the tangzhong. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let cool. Chill in fridge for several hours or overnight. Then the tangzhong is ready to be used. (Note: When you are ready to use the tangzhong, just measure out the amount you need and let it rest in room temperature for a while before adding into other ingredients. The tangzhong can be stored up to a few days as long as it doesn’t turn grey. If so, you need to discard and cook some more.)

11 thoughts on “Sweet Buns Go Soft

  1. Finally going to have time to try this recipe. Is the whisked egg just for the top, or are you supposed to put it in the bread too?

      • My dough turned out really wet and I had to add a lot of extra flour. Was yours really wet too?

      • Jennifer, the key is to knead till the dough has just a slight sticky touch to it. Do not add extra flour. My bread machine wasn’t strong enough and the dough was indeed wet. But I switched to the standing mixer and there wasn’t a problem.

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