Pumpkin custard milk buns are so soft and fluffy, they just blow my mind! The buns are made using water roux (Tang Zhong) method, which known to produce ultra soft fluffy bread.
My dad was a huge fan of bread, cakes, pastries, and pretty much all the other sweet treats too. I remember having wide varieties of mini cakes, buns, breads, Indonesian kue kue for afternoon snacks everyday. He would go to his favorite bakery shop and brought home loads of these good stuff. My mom is a great cook, but she is never a baker nor does she has any interest in sweets at all. She’s probably one of the very few people I know that doesn’t care much for any cakes and sweets. Yeah…they are the polar opposites. I’m truly not a baker. Honestly, I love to cook more than baking. Baking required precision, which I just don’t have!! I’m a pinch of this and that person. Lately though I’ve enjoyed baking more and more. I’m still a horrible baker, but few success such as croissants, brioche, and French macarons have given me some confidence to explore more in the baking department. Pumpkin is abundance this time of the year and so I thought I want to make some Asian-style pumpkin custard buns.
These buns are made using Tang Zhong method (water roux starter). From what I read, this method comes from Japan and it helps to keep your baked bread and buns soft and fluffy, even after days. It’s truly a game changer for me. It’s basically a mixture of water and flour cooked into paste and then mix into the dough. A little bit extra work, but SOOOOO worth it!!! You can read more about it from this Soft and fluffy Hokkaido Milk Bread.
I baked the buns in this gorgeous 12-inch cast-iron skillet by Victoria Cookware. Seriously, the best decision I’ve ever made. The even heat distribution from cast-iron gives these buns their nice color and the bottom is not over browned and over baked, which is almost always the case when I use my regular baking pan. The skillet feels very substantial and you know it is of high-quality and made in Columbia.
I’m so used to U.S measurements when it comes to cooking, but I’ve learned that when it comes to baking, the metric measurements help me to be more precise. So, that’s why I like to use the metric measurement now.
It’s incredible how soft and fluffy these buns are. The kids love these buns so much. It’s time to make more!! Thank you so much Victoria Cookware for the 12″ cast-iron skillet. It will be put into many good uses in this house for many years to come!
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Pumpkin Custard Milk Buns (Tang Zhong Method)
Water roux starter (Tang Zhong in Chinese):
- 1/3 cup bread flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 Tbsp water
Preparing the pumpkin custard (you may prepare one day ahead):
Whisk the eggs and then add corn starch and pumpkin puree and whisk until mix. Add condensed milk, coconut milk, and salt. Whisk again until mixed. Place this mixture over medium heat. Cook and whisk until the mixture started to get thickened. Let the custard cool down completely. Form into 8 large balls or 16 small balls
Preparing the roux starter:
Place the bread flour and milk in a small saucepan and stir to mix. Place over medium heat and cook until the mixture turns into a paste consistency. Remove from the heat and let it cool down
Making the dough:
Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Crack in 2 eggs, add milk, and the roux starter in the well. Use a dough hook and add pieces of butter. Continue to knead the dough for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes by hands) until the dough is no longer sticky. If it still appears a bit sticky, add a bit of flour, 1 teaspoon at a time
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour until they rise, may not double in size. Lightly flour your work surface. Turn the dough into your work surface and punch the dough down to release the air. Roll the dough into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces or if you want smaller buns, cut into 16 pieces
Work with one dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a clean kitchen towel. Flatten the dough down and place the custard that you rolled into ball earlier in the middle of the dough and wrap the dough around it. Place it in the middle of a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. You may use your regular round pan too. The cast-iron gives a nice even color to the bread without that overbaking at the bottom that I usually see when I use my regular baking pan. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling and arrange the buns in the pan as shown in the photos. If you make smaller buns, you may probably started out with 2-3 buns in the middle of the pan. Cover these buns and let it proof again for another 40 minutes or so or almost double in size
10 minutes before the end of the 2nd proofing, preheat your oven to 350 F. Brush the skillet/pan with some oil. Brush the buns with egg wash and then sprinkle with white sesame seeds. Place the skillet/pan inside the oven and let it bakes for the next 40 minutes. 5 minutes before the end of baking time, brush with some honey. Remove from the oven and let it cool down inside the skillet/pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool down completely
Enjoy and this will keep for max 3 days. You may refrigerate them for up to one week or freeze them and they will keep for up to one month. Just thaw and reheat in microwave or toaster oven. If reheating in conventional oven, wrap them up with a foil and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes