I’ve been baking bread with the sponge method recently and I just love it. This HK style bread is an adaptation of a versatile sweet dough (read about my blog post, Dinner Rolls (Sponge Method) for the original version). As this bread is proofed and baked in a pan, the dough as well as the rim of the pan provide excellent support for the dough so I could add more water without worrying about the bread being out of shape.
What I like about using pre-ferment is how it improves the flavor and texture of the buns. With an overnight slow rise in the fridge, the sponge has enough time to develop its flavor. The buns have a very soft and fluffy interior and actually stay fresh longer than buns made with the straight method. If you have extra time the day before you gotta try this method.
For the sugar-free version, visit my blog post Sugar-Free Pai Bao (Hong Kong Style Sweet Milk Buns). For Tangzhong version, visit my blog post Pai Bao (Hong Kong Style Sweet Milk Buns).
Hong Kong Style Sweet Milk Buns/Pai Bao (Sponge Method) 港式排包(中種法)
For the Sponge
210 g bread flour
3 g instant yeast
125 g water
For the Final Dough
90 g bread flour
45 g beaten egg
10 to 20 g water
24 g dry milk powder
40 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
4 g salt
30 g unsalted butter, softened
15 g beaten egg
1/2 tsp milk
For the Sponge 中種麵糰
Add flour and yeast into the mixing bowl and stir well. Add water and mix with the stand mixer with the dough hook on for about 4 minutes until a shaggy dough is formed. Transfer dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour then refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.
*For same-day use, let dough rise at room temperature until tripled in size, 2 to 3 hours.
For the Final Dough 主麵糰
Remove the sponge from the fridge. In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the sponge and all ingredients of the main dough except the butter. Mix with low speed for about 7 to 10 minutes until the dough comes together and form a smooth dough. Add in softened butter and continue kneading with medium-low speed until all the butter is incorporated and the dough forms a translucent membrane that would tear with uneven edges when stretched. This could take anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a tight ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap or the overturned mixing bowl. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
*If the sponge is used straight out from the fridge, you may cut it into smaller pieces in order for it to incorporate evenly into the final dough
*Reserve some water to be added later only when needed
*Monitor the final dough temperature to below 28℃ for best result
* 留起少量水後下， 麵糰可吃更多水時才加
Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. Shape each into a ball. Keep covered and let rest for 10 minutes.
With a rolling pin, flatten a dough into an oval. Roll up the dough from the long side into a sausage with tapered ends then pinch the seams together. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Transfer the logs, seam side down, to a parchment paper lined 7” by 11” baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes until the dough is almost doubled in size. I used the proof function of my stove oven.
把麵糰擀扁成橢圓形，把麵糰從闊的一端捲起成兩端尖的長條後捏緊收口，完成造型後把長條收口朝下，分別排放在已墊牛油紙的7” x 11” 長方形焗盆中， 蓋上保鮮紙室溫發酵45至60分鐘至麵糰差不多兩倍大，EC用焗爐的發酵功能發酵。
Preheat oven to 350℉/180℃ 10 minutes prior to baking. Combine milk and beaten egg and brush onto the dough surface. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until golden brown, covering the pan with foil halfway if necessary. Remove from oven and carefully transfer bread to a cooling rack to cool.
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