Black Sesame Braided buns – Tang Zhong starter method

A lot of people spend a life time seeking their meaning of life. And at the meantime that is exactly what I’m going through. The constant thoughts and questions; what is the purpose of life, what is it that I want to do, and even why do we exist.

After graduating University it wasn’t easy for me to move on to the next chapter as some of my peers did. I guess it was mainly due to not knowing what I wanted to do or be. I pondered on having a career in marketing to accountancy and even taking the risk and start up my own business. As a result I rejected an opportunity to work as a marketing manager assistant, interned at an accountancy firm and asked to work in a Michelin Star recommended Restaurant’s Kitchen. 

These four months has been a big learning curve for me, not just seeking what I want to do but getting to learn about myself. Now I can say I have a clearer vision of what I would like to happen next. But one thing for sure baking has to play a part in it. Whether it is just simply to bake for friends and family or to carry on reading and discovering recipes I’m sure baking is one thing I am meant to do in life.

So this week I present to you another bun recipe that my family and I adore. It is a black sesame bun, that is shaped as a twisted wreath. It is filled with black sesame which has a lot of health benefits and I just love their aroma. Give this recipe a try!

Ingredients for Water roux starter (TangZhong湯種)

  • 25g bread flour
  • 60ml /  1/4 cup water
  • 60ml /  1/4 cup milk

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 350g cups bread flour
  • 55g / 3tbsp 2tsp Caster sugar
  • 1tbsp 1tsp Milk powder
  • 2 tsp Instant dried yeast
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1/2 cup Warm milk (But not hot)
  • 30g Soft butter
  • 30g Roasted ground black sesame seeds (lightly crushed)
  • 1 whisked egg yolk to glaze


Making tang-zhong:

  1. Mix flour, water and milk in a sauce pan ensuring that there are no lumps
  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 turn grey.

Making the dough:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in the order listed above except from the salt, butter and black sesame seeds. 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 centre. Add the milk, tang-zhong and egg in to the well and mix.
  2. Knead this dough until the dough is smooth and less sticky. (This dough is going to be very sticky and would seem like it’s impossible to handle, just be patient with it and try not to add extra flour. If you’re lucky enough to own a bread maker or a kitchen aid you can let it do the hard work.)
  3. Knead in the butter. While kneading you should every so often drop the dough from a height, this also helps stretch the gluten.
  4. When the butter is incorporated add the black sesame seeds. Knead until well combined.
  5. The dough should be ready when it’s smooth and when you stretch the dough you can almost see through it.
  6. 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 1-2 hours, depending on how cool the room is. (Some leave their dough in the fridge overnight which creates soft and flavoursome bread.)
  7. Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough and transfer it to a floured surface.
  8. Divide and roll the dough into 16 equal portions (Depending what size bread you would like to serve).
  9. Cover with cling film and let this rest for 15 minutes, this relaxes the dough to make it more pliable.
  10. Roll each dough into a long sausage, and twist two sausages together to create a rope. Seal the top and end together creating a circular. Place the shaped buns on to a baking sheet.
  11. 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. *
  12. Brush the surface of the dough with a whisked egg. **
  13. Bake this in a pre-heated oven of 160c -180c for 15-20 minutes. Check if it’s cooked when the surface has turned into a nice golden colour and that the base has turned golden brown too.
  14. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!


*To check whether the buns are ready for the oven, poke the side of the buns. When it springs back immediately leave it to proof a little longer. When it springs back a little but a dent remains, it is ready.

**You can choose to place an egg wash on it or not. An egg wash will encourage more browning which means you might need to place some tin foil on top of the buns after it has reached the optimal colour to prevent it from burning. The egg wash creates a nice shine on the final product, opting this out will create a matte finish.

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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5 thoughts on “Black Sesame Braided buns – Tang Zhong starter method

    1. Hello Tina, the only difficulty I think first timers might struggle with is the kneading, as the dough is extremely sticky. But if you happen to have a stand mixer that has a dough hook, use it. It’ll help you achieve an elastic dough without the problem of the dough sticking to your hands and work bench. Let me know if you have any other questions and how it goes! 🙂

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