Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soft Bun

 Last Saturday, I baked soft bread buns, some are with hotdog, some are with custard and some are plain. I usually bake bread in summer as the temperature is high and good for proofing dough. When I baked my bread first time here in winter, it was a total failure. The temperature was low, below 60 degree F and the proofing failed. My hubby told me not to bake bread anymore as the breads are readily available at any stores. But I did not give up and baked again in summer. Oh, it was a great success. My relatives like them a lot and told me that it is same as buns sold in Chinese bakery.

I did baked buns in Singapore before and they were okay and not perfect yet. After baking buns occasionally during last summer, I roughly found out a few tips to make softer and lighter bread. The more water content, the softer the bun. But it is difficult to handle the dough during shaping as the dough is too soft. I also found out to add Water-Roux starter, also called Tangzhong Starter, from Chinese websites. It gives the bread softer, more elastic-textured and long-lasting freshness.The instructor from Singapore mentioned that the condensed milk also causes the long-lasting freshness.

The butter should be kneaded in last after the dough is formed which also contributes to the softer bun. Even though  no one explicitly mentioned that the kneading in butter in last step also makes bun softer, the direction of some recipes I found  knead in the butter last. I did not notice that important fact until I found the explicit statement on one website. The person on that website also advises to use milk instead of water. The egg, especially egg yolk helps make bun softer, but we usually do not want to include many eggs for health reason. Enough proofing is also important. The more time we proof, the flavor of bread better. But this seems only apply to bread that has low sugar content or no sugar in it. The over proofing of dough that has high sugar content might create sour taste.

Most Hokkaido Loaf's recipes include the fresh cream or heavy cream. I use the heavy whipping cream available here. Some mentioned that cream also gives soft and fluffy texture. This might be true as the previous recipe I used is Hokkaido Loaf recipe that use the heavy cream. I remembered I got very soft and fluffy texture in one batch of buns. However, having  heavy cream often is not good for health. As a conclusion, more water content, water roux starter, butter, milk and egg yolk are the main factors to soft bun.

Last time, I used the recipes got from baking class in Singapore. As a beginner, the buns were okay but the texture was not what I wanted. I realized that I did not leave long enough to proof the dough. After coming here, I looked around the softer bun recipe online. I found Hokkaido Milk Loaf recipe and used that recipe to make the buns during last summer. I added Water-Roux starter in the recipe.

When I made them first few times, the buns were soft and fresh. After-awhile, I did not know what went wrong, maybe I added more flour or something as dough is too soft to handle, the buns were not very soft anymore. Last time, I just jotted down the recipe on my book and  I now tried to look for the original recipe site, but I could not trace back. I guess that recipe is from masakan istimewa.

This year, I suddenly  want to find a new recipe, so look around online and found the recipe from recipesforkeeps. The outcome was great. The water content is moderate so that I  wont be adding more flour during kneading process with  mixer. I used that recipe twice with some modifications and so far, the results were good. I added the one tablespoon of condensed milk and reduced the sugar as condensed milk adds the sweetness. I replaced the water roux with superfine flour. I added the Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten as mine is going to expire in mid April 2010 so I want to use up all before expiration. But the gluten flour really enhances the bread texture and elasticity and make lighter bread.

I used the bread flour in first batch and mix with whole wheat flour and instant oat meal in second batch.  Obviously, the second batch is healthier choice. In fact, there are many recipes for wholewheat bread. I am lazy to keep so many recipes so I replace the whole wheat flour with bread flour and add oatmeal. We can also add any nuts or grains.

The fillings were hot-dogs and custard. I also made plain bun for my hubby as he likes plain. I used yogurt in one batch as I saw the recipes using yogurt, baking bites and petitichef . But I did not follow that recpes' ingredient ratio, just added the extra 1/2 or 1 cup yogurt to the recipe I have . The summer is coming soon so I am going to bake breads often as my hubby like to have them as breakfast. This time, I want to try different kinds of breads and buns, probably my next try be recipe from petitchef or go back to previous Hokkadio Loaf recipe and follow the ingredient ratio strictly.


  • 250g bread flour or (100g bread flour + 150g whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup instant oat meal)
  • 50g water roux {original: 50g superfine flour }
  • 30g sugar {original: 50g sugar}
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt {original:1 teaspoon salt}
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon active yeast/ instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 30g butter at room temperature
  • 140ml milk {original: 2-1/2 tablespoon milk powder + 140ml water}
  • 1 tablespoon condensed milk {original:omit}
  • 2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten, Optional {original:omit}

Ingredients(Water Roux):
  • 25g bread flour
  • 100g water

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Melted butter, for brushing (Optional)

Direction(Water Roux):
  1. Mix bread flour and water till mixture is well blended and lump free.
  2. Cook over medium heat to reach 65 degree C or 150 degree F. It takes 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Then remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap to prevent from drying.
  1. Mix yeast, a little of water and pinch of sugar and leave it to proof for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine all ingredients except butter and knead till a dough is formed. If mixer is used to knead dough, knead with medium speed.
  3. Add butter and continue kneading till a smooth,soft and elastic dough is formed. 
  4. If you see that the dough is sticking to your hands do not add any flour, just keep kneading until it doesn't stick anymore. Proof the dough for an hour or until dough becomes double.
  5. After first proofing, knead the dough lightly and divide the dough into 50g to 60g size dough and add fillings of choice and shape of your choices.
  6. Place buns in a greased square shallow tin and prove until double in size.
  7. Preheat oven at 200 degree C.
  8. When buns become double in size, brush buns with egg wash and bake for about 15 20 minutes or until brown.
  9. (Optional) Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. 
  10. Cool buns in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.


  1. Oh this is great!..Thanks for your tips. I used to make bread once in a while and found they are not so soft. Will try to make using your recipe.


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