Thursday 17 June 2010

Hearty Buns

I knew it would be a busy month when the mid-year school holidays began three weeks ago. The first week of the 4-weeks school break was spent sending my elder child to and fro school everyday for extra lessons. The second week was gone in a blink of an eye...with me taking up another home-based job assignment, and my kids catching up with their holiday homework and extra homework I assigned them (to keep them busy!). We were so glad when my better half finally came home last week and we even managed to squeeze in a short trip over the weekend :)

To welcome my husband home, I made some tuna buns specially for him. I first saw these lovely heart buns over at Quinn's blog here. I was so inspired that I told myself I should give it a try when an opportunity presents itself. So, despite a busy day, I spent the evening before his 20-hours flight home wrestling with a wet and sticky mess of dough.

I happened to borrow several cookbooks from a closed one recently. I found one particular book, 'Smile!幸福小点心', written by a Japanese pastry chef, to be one of the best among the lot. I have bookmarked several recipes from this book and I couldn't wait to try them all, and top on the list is a bread bun recipe. This recipe uses the straight dough method which I am so comfortable with. The recipe yields a slightly wet helps to work with a dough scraper, as you really need this piece of tool to scrape up the sticky mess as you knead. Except for a light sprinkle of flour on my table before I began to work on the dough, I didn't use any extra flour during the entire kneading session. After kneading continuously for 30mins or so, my fingers, which were initially covered with dough miraculously came clean. The dough was really smooth and elastic, and I could even stretch it fairly thinly!

Shaping the buns was really easy as Quinn has given a very clear step-by-step illustrations on her blog post. I really appreciate bloggers like her for spending time and effort to share their baking experience through such detailed tutorials. Thanks Quinn!! It was fun playing with the dough, but, I wasn't a good 'student' heart buns were a far cry from those made by Quinn (^_^''')

I trusted my intuition that the recipe from the cookbook would produce tasty and soft buns. I was right! The fluffy texture was the result of a well-kneaded dough :) As with any homemade bread, these buns tasted best when freshly baked. When left over night, I like to heat up the bread in the oven (100degC for about 5-10mins) before serving, and they would taste as good as fresh from the oven. My loved ones were all thumbs up when they had these buns for breakfast. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

Tuna Heart Buns

(makes 8 buns)

bread dough:
200g bread flour
20g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3g (about 1 teaspoon) instant yeast
110ml milk (room temperature, I used low-fat fresh milk)
30g egg, light beaten (this amount is less than one egg, use the leftover as egg wash)
25g unsalted butter, room temperature

150g tuna (I used tuna chunks in mineral water)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
some ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

  1. Stir bread flour, caster sugar, salt, and instant yeast in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in milk and egg. Mix the ingredients with hand and slowly form into a rough dough.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough till smooth. This should take about 10mins.
  4. Knead in the butter. Continue to knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your hand, becomes smooth and elastic. This should take about another 15 to 20 mins. Do the window pane test: pinch a piece of the dough, pull and stretch it. It should be elastic, and can be pulled away into a thin membrane without tearing/breaking apart easily.
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in the dough. Divide into 8 equal portions, about 50g each. Roll into rounds. Cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the doughs rest for 10mins.
  7. Roll and shape each dough into a longish shape, slightly tapered at the end. Make a slit, 3/4 lengthwise, along the dough. Open the two ends to form a 'Y' shape. Fold each end down towards the centre to form a heart shape dough.(Visit Quinn's blog here for the shaping method). Brush surface with egg wash.
  8. For the fillings, mix all ingredients to combine. Spread fillings on the dough surface, sprinkle with extra parsley flakes/ground pepper. Transfer dough onto baking tray lined with parchment paper. Space out the doughs to allow room for the doughs to expand. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap and leave doughs to proof for the second time for about 30 ~ 40mins, or until double in size.
  9. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 12 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Recipe source: adapted from Smile!幸福小点心, 山王丸由利绘


Quinn said...


Thank you so much for the mention, appreciate it.... And no way, my buns are a far cry from yours. Yours are made with love and heart and mine....they are made to a virtual mom and I am eating it on behalf of her!

Jokes aside, I like the last picture and I think I might just have to try this recipe because the buns look so fluffy and soft and hearty.

Keep up the bread kneading session, there is something magically therapeutic about kneading isn't it?


Angie's Recipes said...

Very creative! These make a perfect V-day's breakfast.

遨游。人生 said...

May I know what camera/len model r u using to take the photos? the photos are nicely shot ^^

martina said...

Wonderful! I'm so happy to so many good news: your job assignment, your husband back home, the short trip and these hearts. I think he's very proud of you taking care of your kids while he was far from home and welcome him with such love and affection. Glad to hear from you lifted up in spirit
I'll give this recipe a go for sure
cherres Martina

Pei-Lin said...

I think both yours and Quinn's are just as good! Why be so harsh on yourself!? Your hubby is SO, SO lucky, man! ... Time to be playful with my bread dough too ... Hmmm ...

I know, for moms alike everywhere, school break equals headache and happiness at the same time! I respect you for that! Glad that your dearest was back home at just the right time!

Tia said...

they look wonderful!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Quinn, it is the thought that counts :) I will be cooking 'virtual food' for my husband too!

Thanks Angie! These can be made anytime of the year but they are certainly good for special occasions :)

遨游。人生, all my food photos are taken with this old point-and-shoot camera (6 yr old!)...a Canon powershot G3, with only 4 mega pixel, the latest model is already G12. My photos are far from good as I don't know much about photography (^_^')

dear Martina, thanks for your sweet comments :):)
He will be leaving this weekend, we need to treasure whatever little time we have together as a family.

Hi Pei Lin, I love the school holidays as it means that I don't have to wake up at 5.30am on weekdays ;p

Thanks Tia!

Bakericious said...

HHB, the buns look so soft and fluffy, definately is the type I love to eat. The heart shape, look so pretty and lovely :), I agreed with Pei Lin that u and Quinn both are as gd. I am going to find time to make this since u mentioned that ur kneading took only 30 mins or so cos my previous attempt of bread making, even I knead for more than an hr stil cant pass window panel test :(.

Kitchen Corner said...

These are truly a super lovely buns! I'm sure your hubby could feel the love in it. The buns look really yummy! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

These buns are great! They look so creative and lovely :) Most important of all is that they are all in love shape, very cute :D

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

I'm sure your hubby have enjoyed this lovely buns from his lovely wife..

Jenny said...

HHB - Lovely buns, and I tried it out today, using your recipe of the tuna, and Alex Goh's Magic Bread Sweet Dough as base. Thanks for the inspiration. Check out my post in soon.

ReeseKitchen said...

Its so sweet HHB, wish I can make this too..:)

Tiny bakery said...

look both beautiful and yummy!!!!

Small Small Baker said...

Lovely buns! Now I know what to do with the can of tuna at home!

Lara said...

Hi HHB, Tried the buns today replacing tuna with minced chicken - turned out fantastic anyways!! Thanks for the great recipe...and have a good weekend. - Lara

Alisia said...

what a great idea, they seem like a substantial snack, but not too heavy.

Happy Flour said...

A sweet and heart warming bread for your loved one. (: Home Sweet Home :).

Cosy Bake said...


YOu inspired me to make some of these hearty buns!! Made some them few days ago. and I simply love the shape of the buns!! however, I didn't choose the right bread recipe, the bun couldn't stya soft till the next day. :(

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Beautiful! I would never have thought to make heart-shaped bread buns!

Inspired said...

Dear HHB,
I really appreciate your detailed instructions and I was inspired to try your tuna heart-shaped buns. They turned out lovely! I'm just wondering whether I could use a bread-making machine to help me with the kneading process, would it take the same length of time?

Anonymous said...

Hi hhb,

Congrats to heartybakes for the giveaway!
I baked this hearty buns yesterday. Though they came out weird shapes, they tasted great, soft and fluffy. Think i need to practise shaping these heart shape doughs.

Once again, thanks for your generosity in sharing your great recipes and always so patient to answer our queries. You are our great online "GURU"!

Love, cupcake

Lara said...

HHB could you please tell me whether any of the bread doughs can be made at night, refrigerated & then used next morning. Thanks:))

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Lara, I have not tried leaving bread dough in the fridge over night. However, I have read that it is possible to do so. You can do it either after the 1st proof, or after shaping. The next morning, you need to bring the dough out to room temperature, let it proof the 2nd time before baking. but, I am not sure how long it will take for the dough to double in size, ready for baking.

Unknown said...

hi happy homebaker,

I tried this recipe today..i needed to bake about 20 mins in order for the top part to be brown but the bottom was rather cripsy and dark due to that :( Any reason why? It didn't turn out to be 'fluffy and puffy' looking like yours...nevertheless, it tastes yummy..


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Tammy, every oven works differently. Maybe you can place your baking tray higher (or lower depending on the position of the heating coil) so that the top can brown faster? My oven has only one set of heating coils on the top, so my bakes usually brown faster on top :(
You need to make sure you knead the dough really well. It has to be smooth and elastic (won't break off easily when you stretch it), and handle the dough gently during shaping. After the second proof, do not touch the doughs in case you deflate it.

Unknown said...

Hi Happy Homebaker,

I've finally it successfully (almost-lah) but cheated my way by replacing milk with water & added 1 1/2 tbps of my baby's milk powder. The dough came out less sticky than my first & second attempts. The buns smelled wonderful when baking and although they were far cry from yours in terms of fluffiness & gorgeous-looking but nevertheless tasted yummy! Many thanks & I can't wait to bake for my hubby when he is back from Germany next week!

Cheers Tammy

Anonymous said...

Good morning HHB,

I love your recipe! May I know can I keep the dough for later use?


Happy Homebaker said...

hi bakerLover, I have not kept the dough for later use, so I am not sure whether it is possible.

Andrea said...

I made the tuna buns yesterday, they are very tasty. The dough came out very nice. The only thing I did do after tasting one was to grate some Double Glouchester and Romano Cheese over all of them and place under broiler until melted, for that extra flavour, which I felt it needed.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Andrea, what a great idea to top it off with cheese, I will love the extra flavour too :)

T said...

i hv made this bun few days before.. it's my first time to bake a bread, it accidentally added too much egg for it(about 40g)and have to spend much longer time for kneading, i spent about an hour to knead, and in the process, i think more flour have been added to the dough.. but still didn't pass the window pane test..and at the same time I was afraid to over knead it.
And the bread came out hard and especially crunchy at the surface... :(

I know it's not about your recipe, but my techniques or ingredients, just hope u can give me some advice to help me improve. thanks a lot! u made really cute buns

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi T, since it is the first time you have baked a bread, maybe it is the way you knead the dough? It is unlikely that you will over knead a dough by hand. The dough will be wet and sticky initially, but after continuous kneading, even without adding flour, it should be smooth and no longer sticks to your hand, did you manage to knead to this stage? As for the crusty crust, could it be due to the oven temperature? If not, did you cover the dough during the second proof? You may want to refer to sites such as ( for the common problems in bread making.
Hope this helps.

QarezmaV said...

These buns are just fantastic! Added a romantic touch to my bun making hobby

I blogged here

Anonymous said...

Hi HHB! I'm just wondering - in step 8, you actually spread the tuna filling into the shaped dough before letting it rise again a second time. In Quinn's recipe, she let the heart shaped dough rise a second time first before spreading in the filling. Would the result be different? Thanks!

- Jane

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Jane, I spread the filling before the second proof. Don't think it will affect the texture too much.