If you like a soft fluffy milk buns/bread/dinner rolls without having to prepare tangzhong and do all the kneading, this recipe does it. It yields a very soft texture and it's incredibly easy to put together.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
In another mixing bowl, whisk eggs with milk, and oil (if using oil instead of butter) until combined
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add softened butter (if using butter instead of oil) and use a rubber spatula (don't use your hands) to stir to mix until you get a mass of dough that is sticky to touch than usual dough. You are on the right track, don't panic
Spray the side of the bowl with non-stick cooking spray or you can use a bit of oil to smear the side of the bowl. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size. It may take up to 2 hours too if the temperature is cooler. I use my oven "bread proof" function. If you don't have this option, turn the light bulb inside your oven and place the dough in there. The light bulb helps to warm the oven up in a controlled environment, or you can turn on your oven to the lowest temperature and then turn it off and open the door a little bit and wait for 15 minutes or so until it's warm and not hot before proofing the dough in there. We don't want to kill the yeast
Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with a parchment paper. Alternatively, you can grease the pan with some oil
After first proofing, the dough should double in size, if not, let it proof a bit longer. Spray working surface and a bit on your palms with a non-stick spray or drizzle just a bit of oil on your work surface and a bit on your palms. Use a rubber spatula to scoop the dough out on the working surface.
Punch the air out and give it a knead few times and shape the dough into a dough ball and put a bit of oil on your palms too to help you work through stickiness and to roughly shape into a large round ball
The dough should be easy to work with now. Give it a knead a few times and then cut into 9 or 12 equal size doughs. Keep them covered
Work with one dough at a time. Gently flatten the dough and then pull and tuck the dough to form a dough ball. They don't have to be perfect really. The less you handle the dough, the softer it's going to be. Don't be obsessed trying to shape it all perfectly round. It doesn't matter, once you put them in the pan and they rise, they'll take up space and even out
Place this inside a pan, seam side down. Continue with the rest of the dough
Cover and let them proof again until doubles in size, about 30-40 minutes or longer
If you plan to use egg wash, whisk the egg with milk for egg wash
10 minutes before the end of second proofing, preheat your oven to 375 F. Brush the proofed buns with egg wash and then sprinkle with white sesame seeds if you like OR you can lightly dust the top with some all-purpose flour using a sieve for a more snow-like effect OR just leave them plain and brush with melted butter on top after baking later
Place this on the 3rd rack from the top (or middle of the oven) and bake for the next 15-18 minutes max or until the top are just light golden brown. The first few round I baked them for almost 20-25 minutes and they make the buns a bit drier. Remove from the oven and brush them with some melted butter on top if you leave them plain earlier
Let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to let them cool down completely
Let the buns cool down completely. Wrap them up with an aluminum foil or put them in a zipper bag. If it's not humid where you are, they can be kept at room temperature for 3-5 days
For longer storage, after they cool down completely, wrap them up tightly in a cling wrap, then place in a freezer bag and they can be kept frozen for up to 1 month max
You can thaw them overnight in the fridge or reheat straight from the freezer. Loosely wrap them up in an aluminum foil and reheat in a preheated oven at 300 F for 10 minutes or until heated through
You can use active dry yeast, but make sure to rehydrate the yeast in water or milk with 1 tsp of sugar. It will dissolve and be all foamy, about 10 minutes. If it's not, your yeast is no longer good. You can add the rest of the sugar into the dough later
You can also use fresh yeast, the amount would be 4 x the amount of instant yeast. So you'll need 24 grams of fresh yeast
I highly recommend testing the yeast for activity before starting to work on this recipe. You don't want to wait for hours only to find out your yeast is no longer good. Here's how:Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (one envelope) to 1/4 cup of warm water. Wait for 10 minutes and if you see foams and bubbles and you smell that yeast aroma, your yeast is still good to go. If not, then you need to get fresh yeast.
If using measuring cup: Make sure you spoon the flour into the measuring cups and then level with a knife. The measurement is based on unsifted all-purpose flour. 1 cup of unsifted all-purpose flour is 140 grams