This is my own version of Pai Bao made with Tangzhong. The use of coconut oil (instead of butter) added a coconut aroma to the buns so they actually smelled like coconut buns sold in Chinese bakeries. Tangzhong makes the bread extra soft. The bread will be able to maintain moisture longer compared to one made with straight dough method. I used a 1 to 5 ratio of flour to water for my Tangzhong. And since it is so quick and simple to prepare, I usually make a fresh batch each time and use it immediately upon cooling.
The autolyse technique was also implemented here. Flour and water (or other liquid ingredients) are mixed briefly to form a shaggy dough and then set aside for 20 minutes. During this resting period the autolyse process begins in which the enzymes in the flour start to break down the starch and protein in the flour. The starch will turn to sugar and the protein will bond with each other and develop gluten. Kneading time will be reduced as some sort of gluten has already developed even before kneading is started. It will save you so much elbow grease if the dough is kneaded by hand.
This dough has a overall hydration of 65% . Whipping cream can be replaced with milk for less calories and fats. However, the bread will be less flavorful.
Pai Bao (Hong Kong Style Sweet Milk Buns)
For 9” square pan
For the Tangzhong
25 g bread flour
125 g water
For the Dough
330 g bread Flour
110 g tangzhong
40 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1-2/3 tsp instant yeast
55 g egg
80 g whipping cream
35 g cold pressed, virgin coconut oil
For the Egg Wash
2 Tbsp beaten egg
For the Tangzhong 湯種
Mix flour and water in a saucepan until thoroughly combined. Cook over low heat while stirring frequently until the mixture thickens and the starches are gelatinized. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into a large mixing bowl. Keep covered and let cool to room temperature.
For the Main Dough 主麵糰
Add whipping cream and egg into the tangzhong then mix well to combine. In order to control the dough consistency, reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of whipping cream to be added later. Add in the flour and sugar and stir with a spoon to form a shaggy dough without any dry spots. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes to fully hydrate the dough.
After the autolyse process the dough will not be sticky and some gluten development will be seen. Scrape dough onto the work surface and knead in the yeast. Then knead in the salt. Gradually add the coconut oil. It will become messy and slimy all in a sudden but just keep kneading until the dough is firm, smooth and elastic. When you stretch a piece of dough it will form a thin translucent membrane. I didn’t take any pictures during the kneading process as my hands are dirty..
Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 to 1.5 hour or until doubled. Test by poking the dough with a floured finger. The dough is ready when the indentation remains.
Scrape dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Shape each into a ball. Keep covered and let rest for 10 minutes.
Flatten a dough into an oval. Fold the lower third up then the upper third down as in folding a letter. Fold the dough in half again then pinch the seams together. Roll dough into a sausage with tapered ends. Repeat with the rest of the doughs. Transfer the logs, seam side down, to a lightly greased or parchment paper lined square pan. Place pan in a plastic bag and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes until the dough is very puffy. I proofed mine in my steam combo oven with the steam setting set at 100℉/38℃ for 45 minutes.
Brush top with egg wash. Bake in a 350℉/180℃ preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown, covering the pan with foil halfway if necessary. The internal temperature of the bread should register 190 to 195℉ (88 to 90℃) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove bread from the pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.
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