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.