As you can probably tell, I’m in the hurry to finish up the Chinese New Year goodies in the house. After consuming 2kg of bak kwa (it’s a sweet savoury barbecued pork, think of it as the Chinese version of jerky), I’m still left with a 1kg of bak kwa.
I love having bak kwa with plain porridge. It’s delightful in its simplicity. Likewise, I love having bak kwa on a slice of toasted white bread. It’s like having ham on toast, only better - the penetrating smoky flavours from the charcoal, the sweetness from the caramelisation and the savouriness from the pork itself…
This time, I decided to bake my own sweet buns and make some bak kwa bread. The bread is a slightly sweet and soft loaf compared to other Western style breads. I think the slight sweetness in the bread complements the bak kwa more than say a rustic white, baguette or sourdough would. I can’t really quite explain why.
I used the tang zhong (water roux) method for these buns. According to this method popularised by a Taiwanese, Yvonne Chen, some of the gluten is developed as you cook the roux to a 65 degrees celcius, and this results in a softer and more fluffy loaf.
I added some fresh thyme with the bak kwa for a bit of lemony flavour but its subtle flavours are overpowered by the rich flavours of the bak kwa. Maybe I ought to be more daring with the flavouring the next time.
I wish my buns were a little more pillowy-soft and fluffy; they were fine the last time I made them, I’m not sure what happened this time. =(
No complaints though if I have this on my breakfast table with a cup of coffee.
I’m signing off now. Have a lovely weekend everyone!
p.s my thyme plant is growing very well and multiplying quicker than I can think of what to do with them! Any ideas on how to use fresh thyme?
Recipe: Sweet bread buns (Tang zhong method)
recipe from Yvonne Chen’s The degrees Bread Doctor
Makes 16 buns
This recipe contains no preservatives, bread improvers that Asian sweet breads usually contain. It is soft, slightly sweet and goes well with many fillings. This time, I opted to fill then with bak kwa.
25g bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
75g caster sugar
35g milk powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
7g instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
125-150ml water, as necessary
40g butter, softened and cubed
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
a dash of milk
1. First, prepare the roux paste by putting the flour and water into a saucepan and cooking over low fire. Stir to a smooth and thickened paste and when the temperature reaches 65ºC, remove it from the pan to cool to room temperature. You can make this a day before and store covered in the refrigerator.
2. Prepare the bread dough: Add in all the dry ingredients into a mixer bowl then add in the roux paste, and lightly beaten egg. Using a dough hook, mix it at low speed. Gradually add in water until a soft dough is form. Then, run the mixer for 10 minutes at speed 2.
3. When the dough comes together, start adding the cubed butter and allow butter to be mixed into the dough at low speed. Round the dough and place it in a floured bowl, cover it with cling wrap and allow dough to ferment for about an hour, or until dough double in size.
4. Fold over the dough to knock out some air bubbles and start to portion dough into 16 equal portions (about 60g each). Round them into balls and let them rest under a clean tea towel for about 10 – 15 minutes.
5. Shape and fill buns with bak kwa and place them spaced out on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Let the buns prove for about 1 hour, or until double in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius. Brush the buns lightly with a egg wash and bake for about 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.