Who doesn’t like a fluffy, soft, warm bun? This is a bake that takes me back to childhood and comfort.
These buns are made using the Tanzhong method of yeast dough preparation where a portion of the flour is cooked with a portion of the liquid from the original recipe to create a very moist and fluffy bread, which retains its freshness for longer. I first heard of this method when @dave.yan.delovely used it to create matcha hot cross buns during our time on the Great Australian Bake Off.
These milk buns have been very popular with my family, and generally don’t last longer than a day, in fact they have barely cooled before they are gone. The basic dough can be made more or less sweet depending on your preference and is also great for filled breads, buns and scrolls. Don’t be afraid to have a play with flavours - (I like to add vanilla in the sweeter buns)
Milk Roux: (1 part flour to 5 parts milk/liquid)
50g Tipo 00 flour (or a strong bread flour)
450g Tipo 00 or strong bread flour
8 g instant yeast
1 egg, at room temperature
50ml milk, lukewarm
40g raw caster sugar (60g for sweet buns)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
60g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
In a small saucepan whisk the flour into the cold milk. Place in the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to around 70 deg C , whisking all the time until the mixture is thickened to a paste. If you don’t have a thermometer, keep stirring the mixture until it is thickened by not boiling then remove from the heat.
Empty the mixture into a bowl and cool to lukewarm before using.
( you can also use a microwave oven - whisk the flour and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-30 second bursts stirring in between until the mixture has thickened.)
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, yeast and salt.
Melt the butter, cool until lukewarm and add to the milk, along with the nutmeg and sugar.
Whisk the egg.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture, the egg and the roux.
'Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in then milk mixture, the egg and the warm roux'
Knead using the dough hook of a stand mixture or by hand until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
Move the dough to an oiled bowl and cover in cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove. Allow the dough to double in size -this will take about an hour.
Take the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured bench. Use a pastry scraper or a knife to cut it into 12 equal sized balls (or 8 bigger balls for bigger buns). Gather up each ball in you hand, pinch the circumference of the ball toward the middle, then roll with the pinched side facing down on the bench into a smooth ball.
Place the balls together on an oiled tray in either a round (like a flour) or in rows. Keep them quite close together.
'Place the balls together on an oiled tray or dish and allow to prove in a warm place'
Cover them again with a damp cloth and prove in a warm place until visibly risen. (about 30 minutes) I find when using cling film in this case it often sticks.
Brush the buns with either warm milk (for a matt brown finish) or egg wash made of one egg and 2 tablespoons of milk (for a brown, shiny finish).
Bake at 180 deg celsius for 20-30 minutes or until golden and risen.
Remove the buns from the tray or tin and cool on a rack prior to serving.
For yeast dough I like to use a moist oven which can be achieved by tossing in a cup of water in the base of the oven just before the tray of buns and quickly closing the door. Try not to open the oven until the buns are nearly cooked.
Please note the recipe has initially stated mix the flour and water together to make the roux. In this recipe I used flour and milk (although water can be substituted also). Since corrected but I hope this hasn’t confused anyone !