Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rolling with Leeks

I'm smitten. Last week, I made some Green Tea Cheese Buns using the tangzhong method of bread making popularised by baker Yvonne Chen (check out the story here). The buns were delicious. Soft and tender and very, very tasty: buttery (there's quite a bit of butter that goes into the bread) and just slightly sweet.  Really yummy milk buns. And the best part? The roux (which is the "secret" component to the buns) keeps the bread fluffy and nice for a week or so. I

Ever since, I've been obsessed with making more bread using the tangzhong method. Crusty, artisanal bread is fantastic but every now and again, I like soft, pillowy bread. Kinda like how I like watching fluffy TV shows that don't require much thought but are entirely entertaining. Speaking of which, did you see the latest installment of Revenge? I swear that show is getting more soapy by the moment.

Back to bread. The milk buns are tasty enough on their own and don't need to be filled or eaten with anything, except perhaps more butter. But I decided to add a dimension to them by adding leeks and chillies into the dough, fully infusing the bread with the subtle oniony flavour of the leek. 

I cooked the leeks in butter first, just until they softened and released some of their flavour. I then mixed it into the dough right at the start, before the first knead. 

By the end, the leeks (sliced thin and soft) were barely visible in the dough which was coloured and enhanced with the addition of custard powder (my friend and fellow blogger Jane of the introduced me to both the tangzhong process as well as the possibility of using custard powder).

The buns did not disappoint. The taste of the leeks were distinct yet subtle (I used about 2 cups of sliced leek but may increase it by half the next time I make these, which I will!) and the chilli flakes added an unexpected kick every so often. Nice. 

Leek and Chilli Milk Buns
For the roux
2 tbsp bread flour
2 tbsp custard powder
60ml water
60ml milk

For the buns
350g bread flour (scant 3 cups)
2 tbsp milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp instant yeast
60ml warm water + 60ml warm milk (I increased the ratio of milk this time)
Tangzhong roux
30g butter, softened
2 cups sliced leeks, cooked in butter until soft and translucent
2 tbsp chilli flakes (more/less dpeending on the heat of the flakes or your tolerance for heat)

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, milk powder and yeast together. Add the roux (reserve about 2 tbsp to glaze the buns before baking) and egg and mix together by hand until the dough starts to come together. Add the warm water/milk and mix until you get a rough dough. 

Cover with a tea towel/dish cloth and leave for 10 mins.

Gently knead in the softened butter, leeks and chilli flakes to the rested dough, making sure that the butter is well incorporated into the dough, about 3 mins. 

Cover and leave for another 10 mins. The dough should rise just a little in the time. The dough rise will increase after each subsequent knead.

After 10 mins, uncover the dough and gently knead it by gently stretching the ball of dough with the heel of your hand and then folding it back. Repeat this a few times (another 3 mins) and then let it rest for another 10 mins. Repeat this three more times.

The dough will be a little sticky; grease your hands with butter (or oil ) to avoid the dough sticking to your hands.

After the final knead, cover and let the dough rest till it doubles in size, about 60 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Divide the dough into equal portions. This time, for the first time actually, I weighed each portion to make my buns identical in size. Each portion weighed 105gms. Roll each 105gm portion into a ball on a greased surface and place on a baking tray.  

Brush the tops with the reserved roux (if it has thickened some more, add a tbsp or two of water and dilute it over a very low heat for a minute). Top (if you like) with poppy/sesame seeds (or any seed/spice you wish) and bake for about 20 mins. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi from sunny Arizona USA. This is a really interesting post. I'm not an expert on bread, but I do like to dabble. These buns look so delicious. I've never heard of using a roux in bread. I've never heard of custard powder either. I look forward to learning more about rolls like this and trying this recipe. I'll probably have to order the custard powder or find a substitution. I found your blog a few weeks ago. I've been back maybe a half dozen times so I should have said hi before now. I don't read many blogs where I would have to convert the measurements. (I'm lazy hehe!) I like to stop by yours and look around though. When I make these rolls I'll stop back by and tell you how yummy they were. Have a good day!


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