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Chinese Cream Bun Recipe: How to Make This Irresistible Treat at Home

If you're a fan of Chinese cuisine, you've likely heard of cream buns. These sweet buns are a beloved dessert and afternoon tea snack in China and beyond. They're fluffy, soft, and filled with a creamy custard that is simply irresistible. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of making Chinese cream buns at home so you can enjoy this delicious treat anytime you want.

A table with ingredients: flour, sugar, yeast, milk. A mixing bowl, rolling pin, and a tray with freshly baked cream buns

To make Chinese cream buns, you'll need a few basic ingredients like flour, sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. You'll also need custard powder or cornstarch to make the filling, which is a simple mixture of milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. Once you've gathered all the ingredients, it's time to start making the dough. The dough is made by combining the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and kneading until smooth. Then, the dough is left to rise until doubled in size before being rolled out and cut into circles. The filling is added to the center of each circle, and the dough is pinched closed to form a bun. The buns are then left to rise again before being baked to golden perfection.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese cream buns are a beloved dessert and afternoon tea snack in China and beyond.
  • To make Chinese cream buns, you'll need basic ingredients like flour, sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs, as well as custard powder or cornstarch for the filling.
  • The dough is made by combining the dry and wet ingredients, kneading until smooth, and letting it rise. The filling is added, and the buns are left to rise again before being baked.

Gathering the Ingredients

A table with various ingredients: flour, sugar, yeast, milk, butter, and custard filling. A mixing bowl, measuring cups, and a rolling pin are nearby

Before you start making Chinese cream buns, you need to gather all the necessary ingredients. Here are the dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and filling components you'll need to make the buns.

Dry Ingredients

The dry ingredients for Chinese cream buns include bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and milk powder. Bread flour is used to give the buns a chewy texture. Sugar is added to sweeten the buns, while yeast is used to make the dough rise. Salt is added to balance the sweetness of the buns, and milk powder is used to enhance the flavour of the buns.

Wet Ingredients

The wet ingredients for Chinese cream buns include water, milk, egg, unsalted butter, heavy cream, whole milk, and vanilla extract. Water and milk are used to hydrate the dough, while egg is added to give the buns a rich flavour and texture. Unsalted butter is added to make the buns soft and tender. Heavy cream and whole milk are used to make the filling creamy and rich. Vanilla extract is used to enhance the flavour of the filling.

Filling Components

The filling components for Chinese cream buns include coconut cream, shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. Coconut cream is used to make the filling creamy and rich, while shredded coconut and coconut flakes are used to give the buns a crunchy texture and coconut flavour.

If you want to add a seafood twist to your Chinese cream buns, you can try adding shrimp or crab meat to the filling. The seafood will add a savoury flavour to the buns, and the creamy filling will complement the seafood perfectly.

Preparing the Dough

A pair of hands kneading dough in a large mixing bowl, surrounded by ingredients like flour, sugar, and yeast. A recipe book is open nearby, with a page displaying instructions for making Chinese cream buns

Before you start making Chinese cream buns, you need to prepare the dough. This section will guide you through the process.

Mixing and Kneading

To make the dough, you need a mixing bowl, stand mixer, dough hook, and the following ingredients:

  • 500g bread flour
  • 10g active dry yeast or 5g instant yeast
  • 60g sugar
  • 8g salt
  • 240ml warm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened

First, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl. Then, add the warm milk and egg to the mixture and mix until it forms a dough. Next, add the softened butter and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Rising Techniques

After kneading, place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise for about 1-2 hours in a warm place until it has doubled in size. You can also use a proofing oven or put the dough in the oven with the light on to help it rise.

Dough Testing

To test if the dough is ready, use the windowpane test. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it out until it becomes thin enough to see through. If the dough doesn't tear and forms a translucent windowpane, it's ready.

If you want to add seafood to your cream buns, you can try using crab meat or shrimp. Cook the seafood first and chop it into small pieces before adding it to the filling.

That's it for preparing the dough for Chinese cream buns. The next step is to make the filling.

Crafting the Buns

A pair of hands kneading dough, a bowl of creamy filling, and a tray of freshly baked Chinese cream buns

To make Chinese cream buns, you need to start with the basic bun recipe. The buns should be soft and fluffy to hold the cream filling. Here's how you can craft the perfect buns:

Shaping the Buns

  1. Roll the dough into a log shape.
  2. Cut the dough into equal-sized portions.
  3. Roll each portion into a small ball.
  4. Use a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a disc shape.
  5. Fold the disc in half and press the edges together to seal it.
  6. Place the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Adding the Filling

  1. Prepare the cream filling by whisking together cream, sugar, and vanilla until it reaches stiff peaks.
  2. Fill a piping bag with the cream mixture.
  3. Make a slit in each bun, making sure you don't cut all the way through.
  4. Pipe the cream filling into the slit.
  5. Clean up the edges of the bun with a knife.

Final Proofing

  1. Cover the buns with plastic wrap.
  2. Let them rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Brush the buns with egg wash.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your buns, try using crab meat or prawns as a filling for a savoury twist. However, for a traditional sweet bun, stick to the classic custard or coconut cream filling.

Baking and Finishing Touches

A baker carefully applies egg wash to freshly baked Chinese cream buns, adding a golden sheen before sprinkling sesame seeds on top

Oven Preparation

Before baking the Chinese cream buns, you need to preheat the oven to 180°C. Use parchment paper to line the baking tray and ensure that it is evenly spread out. This will prevent the buns from sticking to the tray and also make it easier to clean up later.

Baking Process

To bake the buns, place them in the preheated oven and let them bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. During the baking process, it is important to maintain the temperature and ensure that the buns are evenly baked. You can also add steam to the oven to help the buns rise and become fluffy.

Decorating and Glazing

Once the buns are baked and cooled, you can decorate them with powdered sugar or sugar glaze. To make the sugar glaze, mix powdered sugar with water until it forms a thick paste. You can also add food colouring to the glaze to make it more colourful.

If you want to give your Chinese cream buns a seafood twist, you can add some shrimp or crab meat to the filling. These seafood options will add a unique flavour to the buns and make them stand out. However, make sure that the seafood is cooked thoroughly before adding it to the filling.

Serve the Chinese cream buns warm or cold, depending on your preference. They are perfect for breakfast, snacks or dessert. Enjoy!

Storing and Reheating

A hand placing a Chinese cream bun into a microwave

Once you've made your Chinese cream buns, you'll want to store them properly to keep them fresh for as long as possible. Here are a few tips on how to store and reheat your buns:

Storing

If you're not planning on eating your buns right away, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days. Be sure to wrap them in plastic wrap or put them in a plastic bag before placing them in the container to prevent them from drying out.

Alternatively, you can freeze your buns for later use. To do this, wrap each bun individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Be sure to label the bag with the date and type of bun. Your buns will last in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating

To reheat your buns, simply steam them for a few minutes until they are heated through. You can also microwave them for 20-30 seconds if you're short on time. Be sure to remove any plastic wrap or packaging before reheating.

If you want to add some seafood to your Chinese cream buns, you can try adding some cooked shrimp or crab meat to the filling. These will add a delicious seafood flavour to your buns and make them even more special.

Overall, storing and reheating your Chinese cream buns is easy and straightforward. Just be sure to follow these tips to keep your buns fresh and delicious for as long as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

A table with ingredients and utensils for making Chinese cream buns, with a recipe book open to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section

What's the secret to making a super fluffy Chinese cream bun?

The secret to making a super fluffy Chinese cream bun is to use the right ingredients and follow the recipe correctly. Use high-quality flour and yeast, and make sure to knead the dough thoroughly. Also, ensure that the dough is given enough time to rise before baking.

How do I get that perfect creamy filling for homemade Chinese cream buns?

To get the perfect creamy filling for homemade Chinese cream buns, use high-quality cream and whip it until it's light and fluffy. You can also add a little bit of sugar or vanilla extract to sweeten the cream.

Can you suggest a simple way to create a coconut cream filling for my buns?

Certainly! To create a coconut cream filling for your buns, mix shredded coconut with whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk. Add a little bit of vanilla extract for extra flavour. If you want to add seafood, you can try adding some cooked shrimp to the filling for a unique twist.

What are some tips for ensuring my cream buns turn out soft and delicious every time?

To ensure that your cream buns turn out soft and delicious every time, make sure to use fresh ingredients, especially the yeast. Knead the dough thoroughly and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place. Also, don't overbake the buns, as this can make them dry and tough.

How many calories are typically in a Chinese cream bun?

The number of calories in a Chinese cream bun can vary depending on the size and ingredients used. On average, a small cream bun contains around 150-200 calories.

Is there a difference between Japanese and Chinese cream buns, and if so, what is it?

Yes, there is a difference between Japanese and Chinese cream buns. Japanese cream buns are typically made with a softer, sweeter dough and filled with custard or sweet red bean paste. Chinese cream buns, on the other hand, are made with a firmer dough and filled with whipped cream or buttercream. If you want to add seafood to your buns, you can try using crab meat or shrimp in the filling for a Japanese twist.