Japanese breads and other Asian rolls, buns, and baked breads are known for their soft tender texture, buttery sweet taste, and their light springiness. For a carb-o-holic, this is pure heaven.
Get these results at home with this recipe for Japanese-style Sweet Buns. The trick to making these buns soft and springy is the water and flour roux (a cooked paste of water and flour). Supposedly the roux, when mixed with the dough, allows the dough absorb more liquid and hence the baked goods are softer and fluffier.
The dough can be used as a base for sweet and savory stuffed buns. On other food blogs, I've seen them stuffed with bbq roast pork, hot dogs, coconut custard, and whipped cream too.
This being my first time attempting the recipe, I decided to just make the basic plain bun. Fresh out of the oven, these are positively addicting. Attempting to just sample one, I ended up scarfing down three in one sitting. Oops.
You'll need to bust out your kitchen scale for this recipe ... measurements are in grams.
Japanese-Style Sweet Buns
Courtesy of Sea Dragon of CornerCafe blog
Makes 16 buns/rolls
375 grams bread flour
100 grams plain flour (all-purpose unbleached flour)
35 grams milk powder (instant non-fat dry-milk)
75 grams granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 grams (or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
150 ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40 gram/2.8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and soften to room temperature
25 grams (just under 2 Tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
butter for brushing
Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC/149ºF. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (I didn't use a thermometer and it was fine. I just cooked it until I could see the bottom of the pan each time I used my spatula to stir. This process doesn't take much time, so keep an eye on it.)
For the Bun Dough:
Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt into a bowl. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (Pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)
Knead in butter until incorporated. Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C/ 82°F with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Shape dough into 16 round buns and place buns in a greased 9"x9" pan, lightly cover with cling film, and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months).
Bake in preheated 375°F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Once removed from oven, brush rolls with softened butter to add a sheen and to keep the crust soft.