Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coffee buns - or Mexican buns

I should pipe the topping on the buns more generously next time
Several months ago, I saw a new shop, named “Pappa Roti – the father of all buns”, in the city where I lived. Every time I passed by, I was attracted by the coffee aroma, but there were always a crowd surrounding the small shop, so I didn’t stop. In a cold winter day earlier this year, seeing that there were not so many customers, I decided to try whatever they were selling at that Pappa Roti shop. Turned out they only sold one kind of buns, called “coffee buns”. The buns tasted so lovely that I returned to the shop pretty often to buy those buns not only for myself but for my kids too (just occasionally for my kids because I don't want them to consume too much coffee).

I had never thought of making the coffee buns, because the buns at Pappa Roti shop were good enough already and they weren’t expensive. Until one day, I saw the recipe in a local magazine for kids (yes, for kids!), and it didn’t seem like a heavy task (it was in the kid magazine anyway :)). The recipe was written by my friend so I asked her all kinds of questions. With her encouragement, I seemed to be determined enough to bake a batch of Mexican buns (as my friend called them and I think that’s the right name). The only obstacle was the time required for the dough to rest and rise. So I chose a hot day to make the buns, hoping that the dough would rise quickly. Unfortunately, a hot day in the summer here also means a humid day. So the dough was ridiculously sticky, though I added more than two tablespoons of flour.

Recipe (written by my friend, published in a local magazine for kids)

Ingredients:
A. Filling: 50g salted butter, cut into 8 small cubes. Keep them in the fridge until ready to use.

B: Coffee Topping:
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 40g icing sugar, sifted
- 65g unsalted butter, softened
- 65g AP flour, sifted
- 15ml coffee (about 5g instant coffee and 1 TBSP hot water)
          Method: Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Add flour gradually and beat until well combined. Add coffee and beat well. You’ll get a paste. Spoon it into a pastry bag and refrigerate until ready to use. My friend said you could make the topping ahead and it can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.
          Note: I did this all with a wire whisk, though my friend recommended using a hand mixer.

C: Dough (yields about 8 medium buns)
- 250g bread flour
- 40g caster sugar
- 3g salt
- 5g instant dry yeast
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, beaten
- 120ml milk
          Method:
1. Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add butter and combine with your hands.
2. Add egg and milk, knead so everything is well combined. Lightly flour a surface and put your dough on that surface to knead (with light floured hands) until not sticky, smooth and elastic. It took me 30 minutes to knead by hands and resulted in two hurtful arms :(. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with a damp towel and let it rise for 1-2 hours, until double in size.
Before...
...and after. The dough looked different in colour just because I took the photos in two different places, under two different kinds of light

3. Lightly knead the dough. Divide it into 8 pieces, roll them round like balls. Cover and let them rest for 15 minutes. Flatten each piece, put a salted butter cube in the center, seal and roll them really well again to make sure the butter wouldn’t be leaked during baking. I didn’t seal them well enough so the butter leaked and the buns looked really weird in the oven. Take the topping out of the fridge so it will be softened a little.
4. Preheat oven at 170-180oC. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Arrange the buns on the tray and spirally pipe the topping on the buns, starting from the center. The topping should cover about half of the bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes until light brown. I baked them at 180C for 22 minutes, turned the tray, then baked for another 5 minutes.
5. Cool on a wire rack. Better serve warm from oven. The buns can be reheated in a preheated oven at 120-150oC for 5 minutes.
I took this photo next day. The buns were left at room temperature for a day so the topping melted a bit
          My coffee buns were good enough but not as soft as the store-bought buns. Maybe I did not let the dough rise enough :-\. Well, actually I don’t know if there was anything wrong but the buns were eaten up anyway. The problem was that my arms hurt for a couple of days :(. I guess next time I will let the bread maker did the kneading job, stupid me why did I not think of that sooner...

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