Prep 45 mins
Cook 15 mins
This recipe is not for those new to Japanese sweet breads - mostly because these breads have a strong yeast flavour particular to the Japanese, but also because the custard has a different texture and feel than most Western filled sweet breads. However, for those of you open to a new experience, this bread is tasty, different, and gives you official bragging rights. This recipe is a variation of one found at http://foppish-baker.blogspot.com/2006/01/matcha-cream-pan.html. I'm a bit of a chatty baker, so pardon the recipe length. :) Preparation does not include rising time.
- 1 1⁄4 cups milk
- 1 vanilla pod (or 1.2 Tsp. of extract)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup caster sugar
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons hazelnut-flavored liqueur (I use Frangelico)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 3⁄4 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- BEFORE you start the custard, add the yeast to the warm water and set aside in a bowl. This gives the bread its distinctively "yeasty" flavour. Trust me, this is a vital step.
- For the custard, start by pouring the milk into a large sauce pan, and scrape the vanilla from the pod in as well, stir to break up the vanilla seeds.
- Heat the milk and vanilla until JUST before a boil, stirring constantly.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar together. When well blended, add a bit of the flour, then a bit of the cornstarch, stirring in between each addition until everything is well blended. Sifting would be best, if you have a sifter (I don't, but I still managed).
- Continue stirring, and slowly add the milk mixture. Once completely integrated in to the egg solution, transfer the whole lot back in to the sauce pan. Maintain a medium heat, and stir constantly until the custard reached a boil. If you're like me, you'll end with lumps ANYWAY, so remove from heat and beat vigorously with a whisk.
- Cut the butter in to cubes, and stir in to the custard, making sure each cube is fully melted before adding the next (not really necessary, probably, but that's how I did it, so I can't guarantee proper performance without doing this). There will probably be lumps again, so go at it once more with the whisk.
- Add the Frangelico and blend once more (whew), cover with cling wrap, and put the bowl in the fridge while you prepare the bread. This makes the custard a little bit thicker and easier to handle - though it can still be a bit of a pain.
- For the bread, start by combining the flour, milk and salt in a large bowl. S.l.o.w.l.y mix with a whisk until just combined (it will be flaky).
- Add the sugar, along with the fully activated yeast and egg, and stir with a wooden spoon (or a plastic spoon - just don't use a whisk).
- Flour your work surface, and turn out the dough once combined. Knead until the mixture holds together well. If it's a little too sticky to handle well, add some more flour.
- Flatten the dough with your hands. Put the unsalted butter (NOT margarine - it will not work as well!) on the newly-flattened dough, and massage it into the dough. This could take a while. Once you've got it all worked in, continue to knead the dough until it is smooth (or very near to it). This, again, could take a while.
- Coat a bowl with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Form the dough into a ball, toss into the bowl, cover with cling wrap and let rest (NOT in the fridge) for about 3/4 of an hour.
- Push down on the dough ball with both hands, gently, until all the gas has escaped. Recover with cling wrap, and let it sit for another 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough in to 12 balls. Press each ball in to a disc, recover with cling wrap and let them rest for another 15 minutes, again.
- Flatten the discs again, and roll out with your rolling pin until they form neat little circles, no thicker or thinner than a 1/4".
- Hold each disc in a cupped hand, and add about 1 tablespoon of custard in the middle of each. Close the dough around the custard, but don't stretch out the top and be sure to seal the seams tightly. Try not to overfill the pastry with custard, because if you do it will prevent the edges from holding well.
- Place the unattractive seam of the dough balls face down on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again with cling wrap (I know, I know) and let sit for another 1/2 hour to 3/4 of an hour. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- If you want, throw together 1 tablespoons of egg white (left over from the yolks used in the custard) with 1 tablespoons of water and brush over the top of the buns, but this isn't absolutely necessary. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, but keep a close eye - they go from undercooked to overcooked in little to no time. Let cool and enjoy!