The finished product first.
Now. This blog is all about impressing people to make them like you. This fluffy bread will impress people. Including yourself.
I have come to understand that anything other than your standard bread tends to impress people when you tell them you made it yourself. This is an Asian recipe, to anyone who hasn’t spend a lot of time with regular access to an Asian bakery, this would be very impressive because they are SO soft and fluffy. They are like little pillows of clouds that smells like butter and milk. And the most important thing is that they keep really well.
I usually make bread on Sunday to eat for the rest of the week. Some of the very tasty open crumb bread get stale by the next day. This bread will harden over time, but will stay very enjoyable for at least 5 days in relatively cool room temperature.
The original recipe calls for a bread machine, the dough should come out of the bread machine relatively smooth and unsticky. I don’t own a bread machine but I thought a stand-mixer would do the same job. Let me tell you right now your best machine to knead this dough, are your hands. It is a wet mess. The stand mixer can’t knead this dough, all it does is tickle it. In fact, I can’t even get the dough mixed with the dough hook, I had to use the paddle to get things properly mixed. For once, I think manual mixing and kneading would really be best.
Look at how wet and sticky this is on the left. With enough elbow grease it will become smooth like they are on the right.
So I found a few things does help with handling this dough, or any wet sticky dough.
1. Autolyse before mixing the dough. Meaning, you mix the main liquid (milk in this case, but not the condensed milk) and the flour first, and let it sit for 45 mins to an hour. It is supposed to help gluten development before you even start kneading. This is probably the basis of no knead doughs that you let the gluten develop over time.
2. Work on your counter top instead of any mat. The first time I made this I was trying to do it over a silicone mat. I had to fight the dough AND the mat at the same time, it was sticking in so many directions it made me so ANGRY.
3. Don’t flour too much. A bit of flour always help with handling the dough, but too much would change the recipe and your bread might not turn out the way it should. And trust me, you would be tempted to add more flour when you first touch the dough. The key is the more you work it, the less sticky it is going to be. It WILL come together eventually. It does seem like it doesn’t happen fast enough tho, I’d agree.
You will be rewarded by these fluffy pillow of love when you are finished though. It is thoroughly worth it. When you make them, make sure you try to get a photo of you kneading that sticky dough to show people as you feed them this bread. Even the Asian bakery frequent customers would agree that it is impressive that you managed to make a dough out of that mess. But hopefully not enough for them to request you make them some. Because that would be bad. And your shoulder might hurt after that…. or, maybe you get a bread machine afterall.
Recipe translated from 肉桂打噴嚏 (link in Chinese and loads of helpful photos)
Makes 9 buns!
250g Bread Flour
20g Condensed Milk
4g Instant Dry Yeast
-Set your oven to 180°c/356°f
1. Mix Milk and Bread flour together. Cover and let stand for 45mins to an hour. (optional step)
2. Mix the rest of the ingredient into the Milk/Flour mixture. Take care the salt and the yeast don’t touch each other or you would be committing murder of yeast.
3. Handle that sticky shaggy dough like a champ and do your best to knead it into the shape. It is going to take a while. It is done when the dough is sticking to itself rather than the counter or your hands. It would be a lot smoother as well. Make an attempt to form it into a ball shape and put in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let it rest for approx. 45 mins, or double in size.
4. Take that dough back out from the bowl after the first rise. Punch it gently like it is your enemy but you are trying to delicately teach it a lesson. The dough is still quite soft so it won’t be very punchable anyway. Divide the deflated dough into roughly equal parts. You can use a scale to be exact but that isn’t necessary unless you care to do it.
5. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and put the little dough balls into it. Cover and let it proof for around 50mins to an hour and a half. Until they sorta fill the tray up and touching each other.
6. Sprinkle some flour on top of the buns if you like. (optional)
7. Once you put the bread into the oven, lower temperature to 170°c/320°f and bake for 10 minutes.
8. Lower the temperature to 160°c/300°f for another 17 minutes. Once the time is up you are supposed to take it out right away or it is going to get mushy according to the recipe. I never leave them in oven for too long because that tasty bread smell will not let me leave them in after the timer is up.
9. Maybe share with people you like. Or, it is likely you will have to make a double batch. You can scale this up into a double batch, I tried it and it works.