Savory and sweet caramelized green onions and purple onions are piled on top of soft pillowy buns and baked to perfection.
All of the sudden I said this to my husband “Roti bawang..do you remember roti bawang you ate as a kid?” He nodded yes and we both agreed that we haven’t had roti bawang for probably at least 20 years! Roti in Indonesian languange means bread, not the type of bread like the Indian flat bread that is called roti, but just like regular bread or buns.
So I asked my mom if she has recipe for roti bawang. She didn’t have anything written down but she roughly told me what she knew. The funny thing is, this roti bawang Medan (Medan is a city I grew up in Indonesia) hasn’t been seen anywhere these days. Even when I googled it, nothing close to the roti bawang I remembered tearing and eating verociously! I have a very strong memory of this roti bawang because it was one of my most favorite foods as a kid.
It’s funny that I kinda remember the taste but couldn’t quite put my fingers on it until my mom told me what goes in the toppings, which is basically caramelized green onions and regular onions. I think they might have used shallots, but when I have a taste of this roti bawang, it sure brought back memory of my dad bringing home the whole pack of these roti bawang! I can’t say it’s 100% the same probably, but very close you guys!
Roti Bawang Medan (Caramelized Onions Baked Buns)
Roux starter (Tang Zhong):
- 6 Tbsp of milk
- 2 Tbsp of bread flour
- 1 Tbsp of active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 extra large egg
- 1 Tbsp condensed milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp of unsalted butter or you can subs with 4 Tbsp of cooking oil like avocado oil melted , grape seeds oil
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour to start with + more sifted
- Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten + 1/2 Tbsp of milk
Preparing the dough:
Place 6 Tbsp of milk and the bread flour in the mixing bowl. Whisk until there is no more lumps. Cook this mixture over medium heat until it is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool down completely
Warm up the whipping cream (not to the point of boiling, but just warm enough to activate the yeast) Dissolve 1 Tbsp of yeast in the milk and brown sugar. Stir to mix. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, it will start to foam. Stir in the roux started (tang zhong) you prepared earlier, crack in the egg, add in the condensed milk, salt, and melted butter/oil and stir again to mix everything. Add in 1/2 cup of the bread flour and then stir again and continue to add until you've added 2 1/2 cups of bread flour. At this point, the dough will be very sticky. Generously flour your work surface. Dust your hand with some flour. Add about 1 Tbsp of the flour and knead the dough and continue to add until it is no longer sticky and you are able to form a smooth ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes (a lot of kneading I know)
Place this dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, cover it with clean and damp tea cloth and let it rise at a warm place for about 45 minutes. It may not double in size, but it will puff up some for sure
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch the dough down, separate it into 12 equal size balls (or 14 for smaller buns). Roll each ball out into a rectangle shape (don't have to be exact). Fold the two long sides up and then roll it from the bottom to top. Place the seam side down on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough and sit them next to each other. Cover with a cloth again and let it proof again for another 40 minutes
Cooking the onions:
While waiting for the dough, preheat oil in a large skillet. Add in the green onions and purple onions, sprinkle in the salt and sugar. Cook on medium heat until they are softened, this may take about 35-40 minutes or so. Just until the onions are soft but somewhat still visible as onions and not turn entirely into a mush if you know what I mean. Have a taste and add more salt to your taste if needed. Set aside
Preheat oven to 350 F (355 F on mine). Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and portion out the onions on top of each bun. Pop them into the oven (3rd rack from the top) and let them bake for the next 30-40 minutes depending on the oven. It will be dark golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let it cool down in the pan for about 5 minutes and then let them cool completely on a cooling rack. Store them in an air-tight container once they are cool down completely
It may seem like a lot of onions to you, but these will cook down and shrink
If any of you reading this post are from Medan, please tell me if you remember this roti bawang ? or perhaps I have been hallucinating LOL!
The husband said if the rolls are smaller, they would taste better. You can taste the savory and sweet onions better. The buns here are too big and so I suggested to make 14 small rolls instead of 12 as I did