Having grown up in Asia, and currently living in London at the moment, we’ve noticed a difference in the types of breads available. Back home, sweet enriched breads are often sold at neighbourhood bakeries and are available in a wide variety of filling options (red bean paste, kaya- a type of coconut-egg jam, lotus paste…) and I could eat a whole pack of six in a day. However, one of my favourite breads (and K’s absolute favourite) is the hotdog bun- we’ve always called it the hotdog bun, and it will forever be the hotdog bun, even if there are more eloquent ways to express it. It’s quite a common sight in Asia, but not so much where we are now (except in London Chinatown), so we’ve decided to make ‘em ourselves.
So, the secret method to making soft, fluffy Asian-styled bread is a method called Tangzhong “湯種”, also known as water roux or flour paste. It’s a method popularised by Yvonne Chen who wrote ‘The 65º C Bread Doctor’ and focuses on the addition of tangzhong into bread recipes which involves cooking a mixture of flour and water (at a 1:5 proportion) to 65º C. This apparently causes the gluten in the flour to lock in moisture, resulting in a cottony-soft fluffy bread so popular in Asia.
Tangzhong, was an absolute lifesaver for me. Between the both of us, I’d rather leave the bread making to K as my hands are way too cold (and kinda small) to handle kneading and my bread usually comes out a brick-like lump of stodge. But nooo. Ever since I’ve discovered tangzhong, it’s been the only way of bread I follow. Beware as it’s quite a sticky dough, so do use a dough hook fitted to a stand mixer if you have one.
Makes 1 standard loaf, or 10 hot dog buns
Recipe adapted from Christine’s Recipes
- 25g bread flour
- 125 ml water
- 350g bread flour
- 55g sugar
- 7g milk powder (optional)
- 7g instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 120g Tangzhong
- 125ml water or milk
- 1 egg
- 30g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- Milk, for brushing over bread
- 10 frankfurters, if making hotdog buns
- To make the tangzhong, combine the flour and water in a saucepan and mix till smooth. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring consistently, until it reaches 65º C. A good gauge of this if you don’t have a cooking thermometer (we don’t) is to stir over heat until the mixture forms a paste, and the spoon/stirring utensil drags lines in the mixture.
- Measure out 120g of tangzhong and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all of ingredients (A). Make sure to add the salt and yeast at opposite sides of the bowl because direct contact with salt may decrease the action of yeast or even kill it.
- Once the tangzhong has cooled, add the water/milk and egg.
- Add ingredients (B) and (C) into (A), and fold in with a spatula. When the mixture comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and prepare to knead!
- There’s no right or wrong way to knead, but just get in there and work that dough.
- Once the dough is smooth, stretch out a small piece of dough with your fingers (windowpane test). If it is translucent and you’re able to see light through the ‘windowpane’, it’s done!
- We like to stretch a clean shower cap over the bowl (saves cling film) but you can also use cling, or a damp towel.
- proof for 40 minutes in a warm place
- Once the first proofing is over, uncover the dough and punch it down.
- If you’re making a loaf, shape it into a rectangle and roll out using a rolling pin. Then roll the flat rectangle of dough up like a roulade and place in a lightly greased bread tin.
- If you’re making hot dog buns, weigh the whole dough and divide it into 10 equal portions.
- Then, roll each portion into a long strip (about 30 cm) and coil around hot dogs, tucking in the ends at the bottom. Place on baking trays at least 2 inches apart.
- proof for 1 hr
- Preheat the oven to 200º C.
- After the second proofing, brush the surface of the bread with milk.
- Pop the bread(s) into the preheated oven and immediately turn down to 180º C.
- Bake for 30 minutes for a loaf, and 18-22 minutes for individual buns.
Enjoy this fluffy bread warm from the oven! If keeping sausage rolls overnight, do keep them in the fridge and reheat (either by quick steaming or microwaving) the next day.