Bread Talk – Yukone Method Sweet Soft Buns With Hei Bee Hiam Filling

Bread making is an artistry that requires alot of devotion to technique and respect for the bubbling chemistry that forms the basis of this age old staple food. I have until now, only looked on with envy at others who had churned out loaves after loaves with seemingly effortless perfection. I have been encouraged by others to give this a go but I guess bread-making is a little like going-to-the-dentist for some or my fear of cats… unfounded but nevertheless…

Late last year, I had openly commented that I shall make bread baking one of my resolution for the coming year. This is my way of forcing myself to get something done. It was the same at work, when I knew I had to force myself to get something done by a certain timeline, I make myself declare my commitment to a big group of people at a meeting. When you do that, you have nowhere to hide but to forge ahead.

My first baby step was attending Valerie Kong’s Sweet Soft Buns class a couple of weeks ago. First introduced by the Japanese and later made wildly popular in Singapore by local bread shop , BreadTalk – the Yukone(Water Roux, 汤种) method is a brilliantly simple technique to make very soft and springy buns that will retain its softness for days! I am still baffled by how the addition of just a small lump of flour mixed with hot water can have such an amazing effect. I intend to find out more.

The class was clear and easy to follow but I think the real value I got out of the class was that it had piqued my interest and started me thinking and wondering…. It prompted me to search for similar recipes, made comparisons and explore options.

The most classic way of water roux method requires one to ‘cook’ a small portion of flour with water from room temperature to 65C. Once the temperature of the roux reaches 65C, heating is stopped.
Then variations started to emerge where boiling hot water is poured directly into a small portion of the flour. (well, I guess, by the time the flour is mixed with the water, the mixture will probably cool very quickly to around the same temperature) This is mixed well and let to ‘proof’ over night.

The method I use is the latter method – perfect for a lazy bum like me. A variety of dried materials can be used – from just purely bread flour, to a mixture of bread flour/ plain/cake flour/ milk powder/ whole wheat flour… the possibility is endless.

The recipe I am using here is a combination of Valerie’s formula with Alex Goh’s recipes. For the filling, I am using the Spicy Fried Dried Shrimps from my last post – but there is really a whole range of variation that one can play with.

Looking at these soft sweet buns, I am happy with the results but I am still trying to figure out how the wrinkles appear overnight…. if anyone has insight to this, please do enlighten

Recipe : (Soft Buns)
Water Roux
Bread Flour                 50g
Boiling water                75g

Bread Dough
Active Dry East           6gm
Bread Flour                160gm
Plain Flour                  40gm
Sugar                          50gm
Salt                             2gm
Water                         50gm
Egg                             1
Butter                          40gm

Method :
1. Mix water roux ingredients together in a bowl. Cover bowl with cling wrap and store in fridge for 12 hours.
2. In a mixer fitted with a bread hook, add flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water. Start mixing at slow speed for  2 mins. Add salt and continue to knead until dough lifts from the wall of the mixing bowl.
3. Add (1) and continue to knead for 3 mins. (I am using Kitchenaide speed 2)
4. Add butter and increasing kneading speed to speed 4.
5. Continue kneading for 15 mins on speed 4 until dough is no longer sticky and does not break when pulled to perform window test.
6. Place dough in a slightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to proof in a warm area for 45mins.
7. With lightly floured hands and table top, knead (6) to form a smooth round ball. Divide dough into 12 balls – about 40g each.
8. Roll each small ball into a round ball and leave to proof for 10mins.
9. Flatten each ball and roll out to a circle with a rolling pin. Place 18g of Hei Bee Hiamfilling in the center of the dough and wrap and seal the edges of the dough to form a ball.
10. Leave to proof for 1 hour.
11. Brush with egg white and decorate.(I used a Sakura ebi shrimp)
12. Bake at 185C for 8-10mins until brown.
13. Leave to cool.