Creamy custard buns (Using the Tang Zhong starter method)

Here comes another post about buns using the Tang zhong method, seriously they come out pillow soft, made even without a bread maker. I remember I’d be obsessed with custard buns when i was a child. My parents would buy me one every time we leave china town so that I can sit quietly at the back of the car adoring the creamy vanilla custard filled buns. But as I got older and understood the meaning of money, I decided to save it instead. But now I no longer need to, I can just make a big batch with just a few eggs and flour, freeze them and I’ll have a supply of them in my freezer whenever I want.

Ingredients for Water roux starter (TangZhong湯種)

  • 25g bread flour
  •  1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 350g cups bread flour
  • 55g / 3tbsp 2tsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp 1tsp milk powder
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (But not hot)
  • 30g butter
  • 1 portion of Crème patissière
  • 1 whisked egg to glaze
  • 3 tbsp plain flour

Making tangzhong:

  1. Mix flour, water and milk ensuring that there is no lumps in a sauce pan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  3. When the mixture thickens to a paste consistency, cook on a low heat for a further minute. (Similar in cooking custard but a thicker consistency.
  4. Remove from heat and cover with cling film, ensuring the surface is touched with the cling film (this is to prevent a skin from forming)
You can either let this cool while you weigh up the ingredients for your dough or you can either chill it in the fridge. This can last up to 3 days, just check that the mixture hasn’t gone grey.
Making the dough:
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in the order listed above except from the salt. Stir the yeast in before you add the salt as yeast doesn’t like salt. (The salt can kill the yeast) Make a well in the center. Add the milk, tangzhong and egg in to the well and mix.
  2. Knead this dough until the dough is smoothed and less sticky. (This dough is going to be very sticky and would seem like it’s impossible to handle. If you’re lucky enough to own a bread maker you can let it do the hard work.)
  3. Then knead in the butter. While kneading you should every so often drop the dough from a height, this also helps stretch the gluten.
  4. The dough should be ready when it’s smooth and when you stretch the dough you can almost see through it.
  5. Place in a bowl and cover with a warm damp towel. Let this rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size. There is no specified time, usually I’ll leave it for 1-2hours,  but the longer you leave it the softer your dough would be. (Some leave their dough in the fridge overnight which creates soft and flavorsome bread.)
  6. Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough and transfer it to a floured surface.
  7. Divide the dough into 4-6 equal portions (Depending what size bread you would like to serve).
  8. Cover with cling film and let this rest for 15 minutes, this relaxes the dough to make it more pliable.
  9. Roll out each dough and place about 1.5 tablespoon of the crème patissière on top. Seal the sides by gathering the ends and shape it until it forms a ball. Place the seem side down on to a baking sheet.
  10. Cover the shaped bun with cling film and repeat with the rest of the dough. Leave the dough to rise for around 1-2 hours, or until it’s puffed up in size. Brush the surface of the dough with a whisked egg.
  11. Mix the 3tbsp of flour with enough water so it forms a thick paste that still runs. Place this into a piping bag and create a swirl on top of each buns starting from the middle.
  12. Bake this in a pre-heated oven of 180c for 15-20 minutes. Check if it’s cooked when the surface has turned into a nice golden color and that the base has turned golden brown too.
  13. Heat the honey in a microwave of on the stove to loosen it, and brush this on top of the hot buns.

These can remain soft and fluffy for up to 3 days provided that you put it in an air-tight container (if the weather is hot and humid place them in the fridge). You’d be amazed with the results, give them a try and I promise you won’t regret!

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57 thoughts on “Creamy custard buns (Using the Tang Zhong starter method)

  1. I’ve tried the tan zhong once and it didnt turn out the way I hoped it would be. But definitely gonna give it another try after seeing your custard buns! hehe hopefully it will turn out well the next time!

    1. It can be off putting when a recipe doesn’t turn out right, but don’t give up just yet like you said! and give them another try 😀 Feel free to message me if you have any queries!

    1. All purpose flour doesn’t contain enough amount of gluten in them, which is needed to create the springy, soft dough this recipe calls for. If using all-purpose flour, the texture of the bun may be more towards a cake than a bread. 🙂

  2. Try this exactly right now 😀 I’m so happy I finally found a recipe for this, I was looking for it everywhere~ Thank you~

  3. Thank you for sharing your recipe! 🙂 This was my first time making bread and the bread turned out great, but all my custard got absorbed into the bread, how can I fix this?

    1. That’s my pleasure 🙂 You might want to make your custard slightly thicker so it can hold it’s shape when baked. Do this by cooking the custard for a few extra minute, until more moisture is evaporated. Tell me how it goes!

    1. Hi Allison, the salt can be added after all the other dry ingredients are added and mixed in. Or alternatively you can add all dry ingredients in, including the salt and yeast, but make sure they are apart. Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will continue to find articles of interest.
    I love to cook and keep trying new recipes. My skills are less than my what they should be for my age, but I’m always looking for recipes to try which is why I decided to follow you.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, really appreciate it! I hope that you try out one of my recipes one day! I’m currently working on some new recipes, so watch out for new coming recipes! hopefully they will catch your eyes too 🙂

  5. Hi, i love this recipe and i love your blog!!! do you freeze them before baking and brushing with egg or when baked and honey glazed?

    1. Hi anna! To answer you questions, you don’t need to freeze them before baking. As long as you allowed them to rise you should bake them straight away. You should brush the whisked egg before baking and glaze with honey after baking. But these two steps are optional, as the egg encourages browning and the honey gives a nice sheen to it along with some sweetness.

      I hope that helped! Let me know if you have any further questions 😉

  6. I made these last night and brought them to work with me this morning. My colleagues love them. So did my family. Thanks for this great recipe! I’m really intrigued to try your other recipes now 😀

    1. Thank you so much Lynn! I’m very glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe! I’d be posting some more recipe using the Tang Zhong method so please stay tuned! 🙂

    1. Hi Yurie! How did your buns turn out? I would imagine it to be more cake like than bread as there’s less gluten in all purpose flour. I hope it still tasted yummy though!

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