Sunday, January 04, 2009

all-purpose buns

I love the smell of baking in the morning.

Doesn't have quite the same ring as the Robert Duvall line, does it? Regardless, these buns are actually great for any time of the day. The recipe was originally given to me to make sausage buns, found in Asian bakeries the world over, but you can substitute any filling you'd like. I've used bacon and cheese this time around - char siu (barbequed pork) and onion, or tuna and corn also work well, or you can try sweet fillings like red bean or chocolate.

You'll need:

500g plain flour
100g sugar
250ml water - you can use milk for a more substantial bun, or try half milk half water
15g yeast - if you get the little pre-packed sachets of yeast (such as the Tandaco brand, which we've used in the past), this is equivalent to 2 sachets. Otherwise use 4 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g butter, melted
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup

This recipe makes 24 small, snack-sized buns.

1. Heat the water/ milk to body temperature. Using my microwave it took 30 seconds on high. Don't over-heat it, or you'll kill the yeast.

2. Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the water/ milk. It'll look an unappetising beige/grey colour.

3. Wait 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. There should be little bubbles on the surface of the mixture (unfortunately not too clearly discernible in the photo, also starring the melted butter and the beaten egg).

4. Place flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the egg, butter and yeast solution in. If you plan to glaze the buns, reserve a little of the egg at this stage.

5. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form a ball. Add some more flour gradually if it's too liquid or sticky. Once the dough stops sticking to the spoon, get your hands in there and knead for 15-20 minutes.

6. Cover mixing bowl with a tea towel and place it in a warm place for 1 hour. We put it in an oven that hasn't been switched on.

7. Dough should have risen to twice its original size - don't worry too much about its exact size, the dough will continue to rise when you put the filling in and put it in the oven. Split the dough up into two pieces, it's easier to work with half of it at a time. The second photo shows half the dough being divided up into 12 pieces (first 4 pieces , and then each of the 4 pieces into 3 smaller pieces. Motherflap has been known to weigh them...)

8. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

9. Fill the buns however you'd like. If you're making sausage buns, the dough is traditionally wrapped around the cocktail sausage. I've taken the lazy route and just popped the cheese and bacon (200g of each for the 24 buns) on top. To make filled buns, roll each piece of dough out to make a circle of about 8cm in diameter. Put the filling in the middle of the circle, then bunch up the edges like a dumpling. Put the dough on the tray bunched side down so that the top of the bun will be nice and smooth.

10. If you'd like shiny buns, mix the reserved egg together with the honey or golden syrup and brush on top of each bun.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

These are great for lunchboxes, picnics or parties. There's just something magical about baking bread - seeing the dough rise, marvelling at the air bubbles that come up when you split it into pieces and most of all the smell that wafts out from the kitchen as it bakes in the oven. It'll bring even the most hardened hibernator out into the sunlight, I promise!

My idea of a pyramid scheme. I don't think it'll catch on just yet in place of cupcakes as a wedding cake substitute...


  1. hola! when are you going to put up your sausage bun recipe (complete with weighing out of the dough mixture to the nearest 1 decimal place?)

    Happy New Year!! :D

  2. This is the magical cure-all sausage bun recipe :) Happy New Year to you too!

  3. Lol, am I a complete idiot or not? Serves me right for reading your post too quickly. Totally zonked out and not looking forward to going back to work... oh for some more holidays...

  4. You are just supremely relaxed and Melbournised, that's all :)