For the past few years, I’ve been pretty obsessed with Cocktail Buns– a Chinese bread/pastry filled with a sweet and sugary coconut filling. I really blame it all on TC Pastry located in Daly City, California. Hands down, they have the BEST Cocktail Buns–EVER! Somehow, their rendition is always extra fluffy, extra buttery, and just extra GOOD. And at 60 cents a pop, you just can’t beat it!
Sadly, now that I’m no longer in the Bay Area, I miss my regular fix of Cocktail Buns and needed to take matters into my own hands. My sister recommended trying out the Corner Cafe’s version which used a good amount of milk powder in the recipe. What further intrigued me was the use of a “water roux” in the bread dough.
Like most yeast products, this recipe did take some time to come together and required a few proofings. The end results produced an OK product for me. Right out of the oven, the bread was pretty flavorful and had a nice texture. However, I found the filling to be too dry and not sweet enough. Perhaps next time I’ll add a tablespoon of condensed milk to assist with the moisture.
Sadly, my Cocktails Buns paled in comparison to TC Pastry…..they are after all, “dee best”. But until I can make a visit to the Bay again, I’ll just need to go back to the drawing board.
So, if you’re in the area, you MUST go to TC Pastry and pick up a dozen or so Cocktail Buns. They also have some delicious and affordable Dim Sum. Ugh…I’ll be so jealous.
67 Saint Francis Square
Daly City, California 94015
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 8:30 am – 7:00 pm
From Corner Cafe
1/2 portion Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough
1/2 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
White sesame seeds
Cocktail Bun Filling:
100g softened butter
45g plain flour, sifted
50g milk powder, sifted
45g caster sugar, sifted
20g desiccated coconut
30g softened butter
10g caster sugar, sifted
20g plain flour, sifted
Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough:
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water
Prepare the Water Roux. Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.
For the Bun Dough: Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)
Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.
Prepare the Cocktail Bun Filling: Mix everything together. Divide into 8 equal portions.
Prepare the Mexican Topping: Cream softened butter and sugar until pale. Fold in flour. Transfer into a small freezer/snack bag with a tiny cut at one corner for piping (or use a piping bag fixed with a 1/2cm or smaller round nozzle).
Assemble. Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle. Place one portion of the Cocktail Bun Filling in the centre of dough circle. Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray. When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns and pipe 2 lines of the Mexican Topping on top of each bun. Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.