About six months into sixth form (this was some 20 plus years ago), I realised I'd made a huge mistake signing up for the Accounting paper. It was hard and I wasn't very good at it. Furthermore, it wasn't a subject that was taught in school and so we (me and some of my fellow classmates) had to go for private tuition after school — two hours, once a week. Despite the tuition, I still sucked at the subject. Mistake. Big mistake as my results later confirmed.
What's the point of this story?
Well, one of the highlights of the weekly tuition classes was the visit to the small bakery that was located almost directly beneath the tuition centre. Well, it was about four doors down. Every week, before, after or sometimes during class, we'd run down to the bakery to buy ourselves some treats. My favourite? A cream cheese bun that was soft, sweet and deliciously nourishing. I'd buy two. On the days the bakery ran out of the buns (they were hot items apparently), I'd be miserable all throughout class. More miserable than usual, that is.
For some reason, I thought of those buns today.
I am not sure if that tiny bakery is still in business or not but even if it was, I was certain it would be shut today, it being the first day of the lunar New Year and all. Damn the timing of these cravings!
Well, I decided to try and recreate the buns at home since I had plenty of flour and some cream cheese. I couldn't find a recipe online that fit the buns that I remembered and so I made do. I used a recipe for sweet buns and made my own cream cheese filling to stuff the buns with, crossing my fingers all the while (not while I kneaded but otherwise).
The buns turned out great. In fact, they tasted quite close to the buns I'd had all those years ago. The only fault was in my execution of re-sealing the buns once I filled them with the cheese. I was remiss in making sure the buns were 100% sealed and as a result, some of the filling oozed out while the buns were baking.
Eeeks. No matter. A slight oversight. We live and learn, right? The buns came out of the oven an hour ago and so far, I've gobbled down two already. That's it. I have to do about 1,000 jumping jacks once I'm done with this post. Onto the recipe now...
Cream Cheese-filled Buns
For the buns
1/4 cup tepid water
21/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
11/4 tsp salt
30g butter, softened
11/4 cups milk + 2 tbsp
For the Cream Cheese Filling
100g cream cheese, softened
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp sugar in the 1/4 cup tepid water. Set aside till mixture becomes frothy.
Using your mixer (or by hand) beat the butter, salt and 2 tbsp sugar till light and fluffy. Add the 11/4 cups milk, egg and the yeast mixture and mix to incorporate. Add the flour (switch mixer to low speed if using) and mix to form a dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about five minutes or till the dough is smooth and elastic (you can do the window pane test by pinching a small amount of dough and stretching it to form a pane. If it stretches easily without breaking, you're done).
Transfer dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with a clean dish cloth and let it rise for about an hour.
Make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till light and fluffy. Chill for at least 30 mins.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
When the dough has risen, lightly punch it down with your fingers to release the gas. Weigh (or estimate) about 40g dough and form small balls of dough, slightly bigger than a golf ball.
Once the balls have been formed (you should get about 14-16), flatten each one gently with your fingers and fill them with a heaped tsp of the chilled cheese filling. Seal the buns by pulling together the sides and pressing them shut and re-roll them into balls.
Place them about 2 cm apart on a baking tray (with an edge) and leave them to rise for about 20 mins. Cover with the dish cloth again.
Brush the tops with the 2 tbsp milk.
Bake for 20-25 mins.