My favorite chinese pastry of all time is the cocktail bun or as some of you might know it as chinese coconut buns. These yummy treats are filled with sweetened coconut on the inside and a soft, fluffy bread on the outside. It’s a bun of love. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever made this and finding the right recipe was pretty dang hard. I was just surfing the net one night looking for some steamed bao recipe and came across the Corner Cafe blog. It’s a really cool blog and has a lot of hard to find asian recipes. Since Chinese New Year is just around the corner, I thought it would be perfect to bring to our family get together dinner that we’re having.
The filling was perfect! The bread wasn’t as fluffy as I would’ve liked but I think it was because I was rushing through the process and didn’t let it proof long enough. I will try the recipe again and see it I can get it fluffier the second time around.
You’ll first have to make the Japanese style sweet bun for this. Then you make the coconut filling and put it all together. Now I have never really made any asian pastries before and this is my first time using what they call a water roux. I’ve never seen it before and I’m not sure what it does exactly so this was new and interesting for me. Maybe that’s their secret!
Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough from Corner Café’s Blog
Makes 16 buns
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed
Water-Roux Paste *:
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
* Water-Roux is basically 1 part bread flour to 5 parts water.
Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.
For the Bun Dough:
1. Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)
2. Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
3. Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.
Cocktail Bun Recipe from Corner Café’s Blog
1/2 portion Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough (from above)
1/2 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
White sesame seeds
Cocktail Bun Filling:
100g softened butter
45g plain flour, sifted
50g milk powder, sifted
45g caster sugar, sifted
20g desiccated coconut
30g softened butter
10g caster sugar, sifted
20g plain flour, sifted
1. To prepare the Cocktail Bun Filling: Mix everything together. Divide into 8 equal portions.
2. To prepare the Mexican Topping: Cream softened butter and sugar until pale. Fold in flour. Transfer into a small freezer/snack bag with a tiny cut at one corner for piping (or use a piping bag fixed with a 1/2cm or smaller round nozzle).
3. Prepare the Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough as directed in Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough post up to step 3.
4. Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle. Place one portion of the Cocktail Bun Filling in the centre of dough circle.
5. Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls.
6. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray. When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns and pipe 2 lines of the Mexican Topping on top of each bun.
7. Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.