汤种法 Tangzhong Coconut Milk Hot Cross Buns

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

As I’m typing this post out, I’m munching on my third Tangzhong Coconut Milk Hot Cross Buns. Eek. I just can’t stop eating them. They are so soft, so fragrant, and honestly irresistible. I was all set to eat my greek yogurt with a grapefruit for breakfast, but then I baked these and, well… I stuffed my face, is what.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

Hot cross buns. An Easter classic. I did my research when developing this recipe – it’s made in so many different ways. It almost felt like the dumplings of the western world. Different families have different ways of making them. The cross can be a flour/water paste that bakes into the buns and serves only as a way to mark the cross. Or, it can be the icing on top, providing a sweeter note than the other method. Some recipes call for a marmalade glaze, others just the standard egg wash. It’s made using currants or raisins, or other delicious things mixed in. It’s spiced, but could be any number of spices. Now, all you hot cross snobs will probably scoff at my version of these buns: tangzhong coconut milk hot cross buns!!!! It’s dairy-free because I used coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil in place of water, whole milk, and butter. It adds a subtle coconut taste, and there is the added benefit of inhaling the fragrant coconut smell as you knead the oil into the dough.

Just warning you: there are so many photos you’ll probably get bored halfway through :). Feel free to scroll all the way down for the recipe!

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

I made these twice. After reading Michelle’s post on blogging, I started to think about my own blog. I realized that when I first started it, it wasn’t as sincere as I’d like it to be. My writing was sloppy and more to fill space than anything. So, I rewrote my “About” page to more clearly define my intentions for starting this blog in the first place. I also decided I want to be more transparent in my food blogging process. More process photos (which I’ve heard really helped people with my scallion-bun recipe! Thanks for the feedback, lovely readers!), more stories about the failures and behind-the-scenes. This also means that some of my posts will be even more photo heavy. I’m not going to promise detailed process shots for every post, but I am falling more in love with them.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

Tangzhong 汤种. I’ve known about this method for a long time – when I still lived in the bay area, I was spoiled. There were Chinese bakeries at every corner and soft fluffy bread available at any moment. I loved these breads so much. I discovered they were made using the tangzhong method. It’s a “water roux” made of water and high protein flour to form a thick, pudding-like substance. The soft, fluffy texture of these breads is attributed tangzhong. It’s also supposed to yield a longer shelf life. All you have to do is stick it in the microwave for a 5-10 seconds, and it’ll be as fluffy and soft as new. It’s really about time I tried it.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

I decided to read for several hours and study the tangzhong method of making hokkaido milk bread. I spent a lot of time on Christine’s milk bread recipe, which seems to be the inspiration for many other milk bread recipes, Mandy of Ladys and Pups has a tangzhong-free milk bread, Cynthia of Two Red Bowls has a lovely step-by-step depiction of how to make hokkaido milk bread, and Cooking of Joy has great insight into it as well. Cynthia heats up the tangzhong on the stove, whereas Joy of Cooking of Joy heats it up in the microwave. Mandy doesn’t include a tangzhong method, but her description of the proofing process and gorgeous photos of fluffy bread helped me figure out what the process was. I decided to use the stovetop method, because I’m a micro-manager and I want to be able to keep an eye on what is happening. I ended up adapting this recipe mainly from Christine’s. Thank you girls for the inspiration!

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus dtangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

After you knead the oil into the dough, you will actually feel the dough get more silky and soft. Both times i made this, I absolutely loved this part.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus dtangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

I don’t actually like raisins, but if I had to choose, I’d use golden raisins. They are sweet and actually works well in these buns! After you incorporate these, it’s time for the overnight or 2 hour rise. Then, punch the dough down and form into smooth balls.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

After the rise, there are two brushing steps. 1) egg wash. then bake.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

2) brush with marmalade glaze for the sheen and taste.

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

Then, the cross of course. Pipe on the glaze, people!

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

I mentioned that I made these twice. The first time, it tasted great but I used the flour/paste method. I didn’t really like it (admittedly, I probably had bad technique heh), so I made it again. They turned out SO MUCH BETTER. I also adjusted the sugar amount, oil, spices, to give it a deeper, sweeter taste. Yum. This is what it looked like the first time:

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

vs this:

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

It also gave me the chance to really refine my tangzhong technique. I always try to make things at least twice, simply for this reason: to work out the kinks and make a good quality recipe:)

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

tangzhong coconut hot cross buns | le jus d

NOTES

  • I highly recommend you weigh out the ingredients. I have approximate cups measurements as well, but it is much more accurate to weight the ingredients out. Contact me if you want them in cups.
  • Don’t overheat the tangzhong. It gets thick very quickly. Once it does, I’d turn off the heat and then just keep whisking with residual heat from the stove.
  • Prepare all measurements out before hand. That way, you can just move – mixing, whisking, kneading.
  • After overnight rise, if your dough feels hard, don’t worry. Just let it sit and come a bit down to room temperature. You can even start kneading it more to get it more elastic. The second rise will bring it completely to room temperature:)
  • For the second rise, I let it rise in a warm place. I heat the oven to 200F, then shut it off. By the time it’s ready to rise, it’ll have cooled off considerably, but it will still be warmer than room temperature. My kitchen is also quite cool, so use your own preference.

RECIPE: Tangzhong Coconut Milk Hot Cross Buns

Tangzhong
50 g bread flour (1/3)
1 cup coconut water

Dough
350g bread flour
½ cup coconut milk
65g sugar
1 egg, beaten
30g coconut oil
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp active dry yeast
120g tangzhong
½ cup raisins

1| Mix flour in water and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, ensuring it doesn’t burn.
2| Continue to heat until mixture becomes thick. When you swirl the wooden spoon around the pan, you should be able to see very visibly the echoes of that swirl. Once those lines appear, remove from heat. Transfer to a clean bowl. Take a piece of plastic wrap and gently press it against the surface of the tangzhong. Let cool.
3| Heat milk to lukewarm. Stir in yeast and proof for 5-10 minutes. You should see a thick layer of foam.
4| Sift together bread flour, salt, sugar, and spices in a large bowl. Set aside.
5| Whisk together tangzhong and beaten egg. Add in yeast mixture (foamy by now) to this.
6| Make a well at the center of the dry ingredients and add in wet mixture. Stir with chopsticks (or wooden spoon, I just prefer chopsticks!) until it becomes a shaggy mess.
7| Knead in the bowl until dough forms a workable ball. Turn onto a floured surface. Add in 1 tbsp of coconut oil at a time and knead the oil into the dough. Knead for another 5 minutes, incorporating raisins in two batches, until it is soft, smooth, and elastic. It really should be super silky and smooth. You will be able to physically feel the change from sticky/rough to silky smooth and soft.
8| Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight in the fridge (up to 24 hours) – or, just at room temperature for 2 hours. It should be more than double its size.
9| Turn it out and punch dough down (isn’t this fun?). Divide into 12 equal portions. Work the edges down so that the top is smooth and sphere-like. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and let rise for another 30 minutes. (I do it in turned off oven from 200F)
10| Preheat oven to 375. After second rise, Whisk together egg and a splash of water and brush thinly across the surface. Bake 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make glaze and icing.

Marmalade glaze
1/4 cup of orange/apricot marmalade or jam
1 tbsp water

Icing
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp water or milk
1/4 tsp marmalade
*with this, you can use any icing you prefer. If it’s not thick enough, add more powdered sugar gradually

11| Heat up marmalade in a small saucepan with water until it is a workable glaze.
12| Brush onto tops of hot cross buns. let set for another 10 minutes.
13| Whisk icing ingredients together. Spoon into a piping or plastic bag, and cut the tip off. Pipe across surface of hot cross buns.

Serve warm:)

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  • obsessed with your pictures. they’re so good! love that you’re starting to post more process shots, too.ReplyCancel

  • Those look amazing! Such a cool variation on hot cross buns. Never heard of tangzhong but it sounds cool :)ReplyCancel

  • YUM! I love how extra moody this photoset feels and I’m definitely enjoying all the process photos! I tend to tune out when I’m in the kitchen and forget to take photos while I’m cooking (plus, it’s kinda stressful!) so tons of props to you :)ReplyCancel

  • Mirian

    Lovely photos and writing. Such a professional quality blog deserving of an award. Thank you for providing what I missed out from my mother and grandmothers.ReplyCancel

  • I love this. Everything about this. Those buns, all your process shots, your new-found mission. I love it all. Can’t wait to see more!ReplyCancel

  • Sini

    Gosh, these buns look amazing! In only a couple of months, you’ve become one of my most favorite bloggers out there with stunning photography and inspiring recipes all spiced up with your spirit! I don’t think I’ve said this aloud so it’s about time.

    Hope your Easter will be filled with chocolate eggs and more hot cross buns. xxReplyCancel

  • Wowwww I am at the brink of drooling over here!!! All day I’ve been craving sweet, soft, flaky pastries. 0_0 And these are gorgeous girl! I also now realize that I am extremeeeellyyyy bad at holidays in general. I had no idea it was an easter food (or maybe just forgot??) and that it’s called cross bun because the X signifies the cross!!! Just wow. Hhaaha.ReplyCancel

  • Ooh I am intrigued by the tangzhong method, I love a lot of Chinese bakery breads but in SD the only Asian bakery we have is 85C, the rest is a little lacking. I think I’ve only ever cooked dough in a similar ‘roux’ method to make eclairs but that turns out quite differently.

    P.S. Ahh whenever I think of hot cross buns I think of the song ‘Hot Cross Buns’ which is the same tune as Three Blind Mice and the easiest song ever (it only has 3 notes) that even so I could not play on the recorder in 3rd grade. Leading to a big fat ‘Needs Improvement’ (they didn’t like to give Fs to third graders) on my report card. Yup I have no musical talent whatsover. Your tangzhong coconut hot cross buns seem like a much more positive association to make :)ReplyCancel

    • You must try it!! It seriously makes the bread SO SOFT. Girl, I LOVE 85C. When I interned in shanghai one summer, I lived above an 85C… sea salt coffees, red bean milk tea, and BREAD EVERY DAY.

      Ps. my husband also just sings hot cross buns whenever I mention it haha.ReplyCancel

  • I don’t know squat about hot cross buns, but I once made Hokkaido Milk Bread following Two Red Bowls’ recipe on Food52, and, from what I gather, these buns must have a somewhat similar taste to that milk bread. Having said that, I’m so tempted to try these amazing looking buns, but… I’m starting to worry about my waist line. Damn you, my always-hungry-sweet tooth! :) I will definitely pin these and gonna have to come back to them once… I get a grip on myself… or, once I start working out, whichever comes first.. :)))ReplyCancel

    • It’s really similar!! Both use the tangzhong method :). Lol yes and since i made these twice… I had to put in double time at the gym…ReplyCancel

  • These are absolutely stunning! They sound so good :) Also, I adore your little plate!ReplyCancel

  • !!! Loved this post and love the idea of tangzhong coconut milk hot cross buns !!! Also, photos are gorg!! Going to read your about page now. :)ReplyCancel

  • I think you didn’t put enough photos 😉 how could anyone ever get bored of them, they are so gorgeous! I’m too lazy to use the tangzhong method. Although, you may have changed my mind about it. Your buns look amazing 😉ReplyCancel

  • I was gonna say, the fact that you went from the first attempt photo to what these hot cross buns turned into is so -hands-in-the-air-praise-emoji worthy. Also, no such thing as too many photos because they’re all gorgeous and are key to telling this story! beautiful beautiful, betty!ReplyCancel

  • These are absolutely beautiful and seriously making my mouth water! I love the idea of doing more process shots, something I will be trying to do more of as well. Your photos and writing are wonderful. Incredible work, Betty!!!ReplyCancel

  • Hi Betty, thank you so much for your compliments earlier! I’ve been browsing through your blog and your photography is stunning! All of your food looks so amazing, I want to eat them all. The texture of these buns looks so soft and delicious, and I TOTALLY feel you about the raisins! I don’t like raisins, but will begrudgingly use golden ones when I have to. Love that you feel the same way, haha. Also love the process shots and how they’re just as gorgeous as the final shots, you’re seriously talented girl.ReplyCancel

  • Betty! Oh, my goodness I am SWOONING over these shots. They are incredible. Plus, I absolutely adore hot cross buns so this was wonderful to look at while sipping on my morning coffee. I think I can smell them all the way over here 😉 Beautiful work. So happy to find you! xoReplyCancel

  • This is such a beautiful post, Betty! Your photos are just breathtaking so never apologize for too many! I feel like I was in your kitchen with you and I’d happily spend hours doing that, so please: more photos always! Your second batch turned out so shiny and perfect – I’d shove my face too!ReplyCancel

  • love the pics! keep it up :)ReplyCancel

  • Hmmm…I posted a comment but it didn’t post. Anyhow, so what’s your fave now that you’ve made the Tangzhong method and the Levain method with your Dreamiest of Dreamy Milk Toast?
    p.s. @mightyinthemitten from IG posting here! Hi! =)ReplyCancel

  • Joanne

    Could u use a stand mixer with dough attachment to mix for you? Im referring to the portion especially with the coconut oilReplyCancel

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