Friday, 5 March 2010

Flower Buns

These flower buns are nothing new, many bloggers have made them. But, it was the first time I attempted to shape a simple red bean bun into a flower:) Most importantly I made theses buns using the 65degC tangzhong (water-roux) method.

I came across this tangzhong method, 3 ~ 4 years ago, when I first borrowed the book《65C汤种面包》by 陈郁芬。I was totally new to bread making, and her method was way too challenging for me back then. Since it involves cooking the tangzong or water-roux (a mixture of water and flour), I  have to give the recipe a miss. I am quite hopeless when there is anything to do with the stove. I was quite certain that I would probably burn the water-roux. Incidentally, I burnt a pot of sago pearls the other day...I should have waited for the water to boil before adding the sago pearls, but instead I boiled them together with the pot of cold water. I thought it was no different from boiling a pot of red bean soup, that's how ignorant I am!!

Over the past year, I have seen several bloggers making super soft and fluffy breads using this method, I couldn't resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon! Pei Lin over at Dodol & Mochi has written a great write-up on this water-roux method, like her, I don't have a thermometer to check whether the water roux has reached 65degC, so her post came in really handy with all the clear instructions and photo illustrations. I was quite surprised that cooking the flour and water mixture was not as difficult as I thought. Just a quick simple stir over low heat and the tangzhong was ready! Little did I know the challenge to me was not making the tangzhong, but it was the kneading of the dough!

Ever since my bread machine was damaged, I have to  knead bread dough by hand. The secret to producing soft bread from this tangzhong method lies on the fact that after the flour/water mixture is cooked it  will be able to absorb more water/moisture.  The amount of liquid used in  this recipe is quite substantial, as a result,  the bread dough was super wet and sticky! I had a hard time kneading the sticky mess. After struggling for 10mins, I gave up and had no choice but to keep adding small amount of flour to the dough to make it more manageable. Even after 30mins of kneading, the dough was still quite sticky and soft. I left it to proof since I had to get on with my other chores. Fortunately, the dough rose very well during the first proofing. It was not so sticky after the proofing and it was easy to shape the buns. 

To make the flower shape, simply wrap the buns with the fillings and shape it into a round ball. Then flatten it to a disc and with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, cut 8 slits all around the edges. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (roasted). In case you ask me, here's the secret to make the sesame seeds stay neat in the middle...dip one end of a rolling pin (only if your rolling pin is the same as mine, that comes with a flat surface, which looks something like this) with some water, then dip it with sesame seeds so that the surface is covered with the seeds, then 'stamp' it on the surface of the bun. 

Unfortunately, these buns were not as soft as expected since I must have added too much flour when I was kneading the dough. It was a little dense and there is a slight chew to it.The texture was about the same two days later, it didn't turn too hard or dry. I guess I am almost on the right track, but I would probably not be making bread using this method too soon, unless I go over to someone else's kitchen to borrow a powerful standing mixer ;)

For the basic sweet bun recipe hop over to MH's blog post here.


youfei said...

I too tried the tang-zhong method sometime back. I think I overcooked the tangzhong and according to Pei Lin, i cooked a zhong-zhong instead. The bread ended up pretty chewy and not as soft and fluffy as i expected..

I guess I'd have to try again! =X

Thanks for sharing! =)

Blessed Homemaker said...

I made this without the thermometer too and I was expecting a soft bread since there were so much raves. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the bread as I thought your milk bread yields the same softness except that this tangzhong bread is slightly more chewy. I'll prob give this another try, though not in the near future as I'm satisfied with your milk bread recipe ;-)

Kitchen Corner said...

Good try!! I don't have a thermometer to check for the consistency too! Just cook until like a smooth baby porridge. I'm sure from your 1st attempt, you've got some idea for the next try. Overall, your buns nicely shaped!!

Evy said...

This is amazing HHB. I just love it.

Sweetaeration said...


It looks pretty good especially since it is hand kneaded. I failed so many times while trying to hand knead the dough. I could never seem to get the gluten proteins in action. I just bought a kitchenaid machine, hopefully it is going to make bread making easier : D Just wondering- what kind of mixer are you using?

MH said...

Hi! You bought the digital scale already? Come over my house if you don't mind the distance and the noise of my mixer.... haha! :D Oh yes, Pei Lin's write up was very detail indeed! Btw, the buns look very pretty! Happy weekend!

Small Small Baker said...

I have been holding on this book 65C汤种面包 for more than a month. Renew and renew (those who cannot find the book in the library, blame me, haha!). I still don't have the guts to try it. It's the proofing that intimidates me, the way to get the right temperature and humidity. Luckily you did it first. I shall get a few tips from you before I start. :)

Honey Bee Sweets said...

There seems endless ways of shaping a bread dough. And making it a flower shape is almost like a "classic" now. Pretty!:) Although I have made bread several times now and even came up a few recipes of my own. Sometimes I still end up with bread that are rather "stiff",even if it is just hours out from the oven. I guess we all learn as we go...:)

MamaFaMi said...

Lovely looking buns you've got here...

Julia said...

I think they still turned out pretty, despite your troubles. :-)
I have neither the money nor the counter space for a Kitchen Aid, so I knead all my breads by hand. For very sticky doughs like this one, I use the method demonstrated in this video:
It's very easy, not messy at all and it yields very good results, since you don't have to add any extra flour. Hope that helps.

Unknown said...

Yours looks delicious and I would love to try this. Thanks for the post about it!

Tia said...

i've never tried this method. I'll give it a shot this weekend. nice tip on "stampingg" the seeds on the bun!

Happy Homebaker said...

youfei, I read your comments in Pei-Lin's post, I didn't over cook the tangzhong, but the bread did has a slightly chewy texture.

Blessed Homemaker, I like the milk loaf too!

Hi Grace, thanks for the encouraging words :)

Sweetaeration, I am sure you will be able to make delicious bread with your KA! I only have a hand held mixer, it is more than 20 yrs old, no brand ;)

MH, I will go get the digital scale soon. I made this by estimation!

SSB, don't worry about the humidity and temperature stated in the book. Our weather here is just great for proofing, our room temperature is around 28 degC although sometimes my house can get really warm in the afternoon when it hits 30degC!

HBS, you make delicious bread! I was very inspired by your flower buns :)

Thanks Evy, MamaFaMi!

Hi Pam, Tia, I hope you have fun making these buns :D

Thanks Julia for the tip! I would love to try it :)

Cheah said...

Hi, I tried using this tangzhong method, but with the dough hook attachment, the dough was sticky and gluten formed quickly. End result was pretty hard too, gave up! Safer bet to use my breadmaker to churn out the dough and shape to whatever shape I fancy!

Pei-Lin said...

Hey, HHB! I think you might have overcooked the tangzhong a little too much!!?? Mine always turns out too be runny whilst being slightly thick. Besides constantly whisking the flour-water mixture at all times, make sure you keep an eye on its consistency. As soon as you start to see streaks following right behind your (metal whisk), immediately turn off the flame and remove it from the heat to stop the cooking process.

It's true that the dough made with tangzhong tends to be sticky. So, I always have my working surface, hands and rolling pin floured in order to work with the dough, e.g. shaping. (Of course, don't overdo it.) Erm ... I also knead most of my bread dough for almost 60 minutes. LOL! However, I've found that dough that's been proofed for the first round becomes more manageable. I guess we can attribute that to sufficient resting time of the gluten.

Also, for a glutton like me, my wholemeal tangzhong bread is already good and soft enough for me, provided that I have not overbaked it. Because it's soft enough for me, I suppose plain white bread should be even softer!!?? This was what that happened to my rotiboy and polo buns, in which I broke my own record by using just plain bread + cake flour for these buns!! (Have yet to blog about them, but they can be found on my Flickr. I'm gonna do it sometime soon.) I bake wholemeal and oatmeal bread 98% of the time because I try to avoid refined white bread. I mean really, I don't compare my home-made bread to store-bought ones. Like what I've shared with you in my tangzhong post, store-bought ones contain additives to improve their texture and lengthen shelf life. I've gotta acknowledge that Asians tend to have a palate for super soft, fluffy bread that melts in your mouth. Since I started working for an international food distribution company that distributes additives on behalf of multinational additives manufacturers, I've seen commercial recipes for bread (be it plain or wholemeal bread), Swiss rolls, ice cream, ganache coating for ice pops, gourmet chocolate, mayo and yogurt! They all have at least two different additives! All these have made me detest store-bought stuff, at least, I try to avoid consuming though I know deep down that the "raw" ingredients we purchase from baking supply stores do contain some sort of additives! Sigh ... What to do when we're living in a highly commercialized, fast-paced world! So, you're only mentally torturing yourself by comparing yours side by side store-bought ones. It's an unfair one! They cheat, LOL!

I make bread almost every week for my lunch at work, and tangzhong almost always ends up in mine. I hope you can enjoy tangzhong bread real soon!

quizzine said...

I've tried tangzhong method, and like how the bread turns out each time. But using hand to knead the dough, is a no-no cos i've never been successful ;-(

MaryMoh said...

Looks very pretty....really like flower. I love it.

Homegirl said...

hi HHB, wanna ask you when did you shape your bread? Is it before or after the proofing?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Pei Lin, thanks for sharing your experience! I agree that homemade bread is still the best, even though the texture may not be as soft as store bought ones. I don't think I have the energy to knead the dough for 1 hr! I will probably break my arms ;) I am not giving up on this tangzhong method yet, will want to try it again.

Hi quizzine, thanks for the assurance that I am not the only one who doesnt have luck with kneading this dough :D

Hi Homegirl, I shape the bread after the 1st proof, after shaping, the buns are left to proof again for the 2nd time before baking.

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

What a beautiful flower!

I came over to visit from Anncoo's blog. I am glad to meet you and browse your posts! Hope to be back again soon!

Stay Cozy, Carrie

hanushi said...

Hihi HHB, my oven is quite small. I am thinking I may need to bake them in two batches.

If I want to roll my dough together, can you advise on how should i go about storing the dough during the time the first batch is in oven? Will it over proof while I bake my first batch?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Hanushi, My oven is very small too, only 20L, I have to bake them in two batches. There is no worry about over proofing as I worked quite slowly...the time difference between the first few buns and the last few buns after filling/shaping is about the time it requires for baking the first batch, hope you know what I mean.

sushi said...

hi HHB,

I recently read the book 65C汤种面包. The book uses "12 liang tu si mian bao mo". Do you happen to know what is the dimension of bread loaf pan in inch/cm? :P

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Sushi, I just googled and managed to get this info:
一两is equivalent to 37.429grams.
so for a 12兩pullman tin, it should be around 450g. The size is the same as my pullman tin around 7.5"x4"x4"...the finished loaf is the size of a standard Gardenia loaf (around 400g). Hope this helps.

sushi said...


THANKS for the info!! I am really impressed with your analytical logic how you are able to figure that out. :D

Many many thanks!!

hanushi said...

Hi HHB, I guess I roughly understand what you are trying to say. =)

Arigatou for your time to explain. Cheers!

Anonymous said...


do you know where I can get the book 65C in Singapore?

Thanks ~ Anja

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anja, I am not sure where u can get this book, maybe kinokuniya? I borrowed it from the library.