Sunday, February 13, 2011

Made with Love

Valentine's day is on Monday, so I decided to do something for my loved ones. My whole family is in love with the wonderful pineapple buns ... and I thought to myself: wouldn't it be wonderful to know how to make them in addition to the cupcakes that I make every year? I made a note to myself to attend a bun baking class next time I'm in HK.

It just so happens I saw Christine's new blog post on Facebook:
As usual, her recipes are accurate and easy to follow, so I decided to give it a try. I know right off I was going to ignore the ammonia powder. I've read somewhere about the 'manual scoring' technique, so I decided to do that instead.

The key to making this bread is the 'tangzhong'. I've found this very useful article about 65C 湯種甜麵糰 from another wonderful blog, Corner Cafe

So I started making the tangzhong Friday afternoon, making sure there's enough time for it to chill in the fridge. I proceeded to make the topping , and then the dough. I used my heavy duty mixer to mix the dough.. however, the dough was quite sticky.. and it really didn't rise during the 1st proof. I then remembered that in mixing up the yeast with lukewarm water, I forgot to scald the milk when I added it in. I'm sure the yeast was inactivated. So I tried rescuing the dough by mixing in more activated yeast and kneaded some more, and proofed it in a warm oven (turned it to 400F for 1 min).. then I followed the rest of the steps. The result isn't too bad. The topping is wonderful, the bun is soft, but not fluffy enough.

So on Saturday night, with my dearest hubby's encouragement (or enabling), I proceeded to make a second batch. I still have half of the tangzhong left, and I have a little bit of topping left, so making the dough was the only thing I had to do. I wanted to change things up a bit, as I didn't want to make plain breads, so I looked at some posts from Corner Cafe, and decided to make some breakfast bun with what I had in the fridge. I was disappointed not to find any sausages, but I've got plenty of green onions, cheese and a pack of tuna. That should do.

This time, I researched the other posts, and made sure I activated the yeast with lukewarm water, and waited to see 'beer foam'-like foam appear on the surface. I lightly scalded the milk, and mixed everything except the butter in the mixer for 6 minutes. I added the room temperature butter and mixed the dough for another 4 minutes. The mixer bowl was too big for the dough, so there was a lump that was stuck in the bottom despite my continuing scraping down the bowl. I took the dough out and hand kneaded it for another 15 minutes. At first, I had to keep adding flour to my hands and the surface, but it really got a lot less sticky towards the end. When the dough was ready (able to pull out a small bit to form a thin membrane), I put it in the greased bowl in the warmed oven (warmed it to 400F for 1 min, then put in the dough), and waited 40 min. The 1st proof was very successful. When I took the dough out, it was beautiful: elastic, not sticky at all, and all fluffed up. I punched it down, let it rest for 15 minutes and then formed the dough. I also rolled in the ingredients. This time I let it proof for another hour in the warm oven.

The 2nd proofing was successful as well. The dough did grow twice in size, the way it should. The breads came out a lot more fluffy and lighter than the first batch. They still don't compare to the bakery ones, but are surely better than the packaged ones we got from the local Asian supermarket.

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