A recent article on Tangzhong breads got me yearning for Hong Kong style buns.
In Hong Kong and Singapore it’s hard to find a bakery not selling these pillowy soft breads. They are slightly sweet, tender and chewy with a butter slicked soft crust. Fillings tend towards sweet – red bean paste, coconut and custard – and salty sweet – cha sui buns, curry beef and onions, ham, cheese and onions. My kids favorite were hot dog buns – unadorned sausages wrapped in a spiral of bread. In Singapore, variations included bright green pandan, light brown gula melaka and brilliant yellow mango flavored buns.
Nice though it was, this sweet bread was the ONLY style of bread available in Singapore bakeries. Good on its own for snacks, they are less than satisfying with soups, meats and meals. Eating them at dinner was like eating Twinkies with your roast beef. The unavailability of ‘regular’ bread was the reason I started making artisan breads at home.
Now that I’m back in Canada and living in remote British Columbia, the situation is reversed. In my little town, there is no bakery. There is a supermarket with an in-store bakery. It does passably well with white and whole grain pan breads. Their danishes and croissants are of the pre-made, mass produced variety. Their Hong Kong buns? Nonexistent. My solution? Start making it at home.
Here’s my first batch. Shaping is not as good as it could be and it’s a bit too brown on top but the taste – it’s just as it should be. Want to give it a try? Here’s a recipe.
Ucluelet, B.C. August 2018