Sweet Potato and Taro Tangzhong Buns

The seventh signature of Bake Off 2019 was to make 24 Festival Buns, buns that take on the theme of a festival or holiday from around the world. Henry got his tongue in a twist with his Kardemummabullar and we saw the grills being turned back on for the Sarawak showstopper challenge! I’m continuing to bring a Chinese influence to my bake along recipes this year and thought of a festival bun and instantly the Cheung Chau Bun Festival came to mind! These are my Sweet Potato and Taro Tangzhong Buns!

The Cheung Chau Bun Festival uses lucky buns (平安包) to build bun towers during the festival, three 18m tall towers made up of buns. The buns are typically steamed so they are super soft and fluffy. The buns are stamped with the Chinese characters 平安in red ink which means peace. The buns are sometimes filled with lotus or red bean paste. I took inspiration from the soft and fluffy bun and I chose to revisit the tangzhong recipe and method from my Bread Week recipe to guarantee my buns would be soft and fluffy!

My first filling idea was to make a taro paste, more like a pudding consistency. I thought the pudding itself wouldn’t be firm enough to hold as a filling so I add some glutinous rice flour to the mixture while it’s still hot so the flour cooks out. My second filling idea was a sweet potato paste and it’s simply steamed sweet potato mashed together with sugar and condensed milk. These fillings are incredibly simple to make and they taste delicious with the soft buns! You can make a taro paste in a very similar way to the sweet potato paste if you want to experiment!

This week’s bake was done in collaboration with a fellow Instagram baker, Lauren (aka @lslbakes) who I met at university! My other friend Kevin also joined our baking session and made bread for the first time too! Thanks to them for providing ingredients as well as taking some awesome photos of my bakes. Make sure that you go and follow Lauren on Instagram, you can check out her page by clicking here!

Check out my video guide on how to make my Sweet Potato and Taro Tangzhong Buns below!

For the tangzhong:

  • 30g strong white bread flour
  • 150ml cool water

For the bread dough:

  • 420g strong white bread flour
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 1 whole large egg
  • About 100ml tepid water
  • 40g margarine

For the taro filling:

  • 25g taro powder
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 18g cornflour
  • 220ml water
  • 20g glutinous rice flour

For the sweet potato filling:

  • 400g sweet potato
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 30g condensed milk

To make the tangzhong, mix together the flour and water in a saucepan until there are no lumps. Place over a medium heat and cook until it has thickened to a paste, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. Leave to cool until it has reached around 50˚C and then add some of the water gradually, stirring until smooth, until it has reached around 42˚C.

In a mixing bowl, add in the strong white bread flour. Place the yeast to one side of the bowl, the sugar and salt to another side of the bowl and add the slightly cooled tangzhong to another side of the bowl (i.e. split the bowl into thirds and place them each into one of them). Using a spatula, begin to combine the ingredients into a dough. Form a well in the centre and add the egg and some more of the water and begin to bring everything together into a dough. Tip the raggedy mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough together, until it forms a dough that is soft, smooth but not sticky. Knead for a few minutes before flattening out with your hands.

Spread the margarine on top of the dough and fold the dough on top of itself and continue to knead the dough, incorporating the margarine evenly, adding more flour if the dough becomes sloppy and the margarine isn’t incorporating. The dough has been kneaded enough when you shape the dough into a ball and you press a lightly floured finger in and it springs back. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave to prove until doubled in size.

For the sweet potato filling, peel and cut the sweet potato into 1cm cubes. Steam the sweet potatoes for around 15 to 20 minutes until a knife easily inserts into the sweet potato. Leave to cool slightly before placing into a food processor until it forms a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar and condensed milk and mix through. Leave to cool further.

Next prepare the taro filling. Firstly place a small metal tray into the fridge. In a saucepan, whisk together the taro powder, sugar and cornflour. Gradually stream in the water, whisking constantly until incorporated. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened into a pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and while still hot, add in the glutinous rice flour and whisk until it thickens slightly. Pour the taro paste onto the chilled baking tray, spreading out in a thin layer. Cover with clingfilm, making sure it touches the surface of the paste and place in the fridge to chill.

Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough out and roll it up into a large log. Weigh the dough and divide equally into 18 pieces. Cover the balls of dough with clingfilm to prevent them from drying out on the surface.

Roll out each ball into a large disc and place a spoonful of either the taro filling or sweet potato paste in the centre. Using a crimping and folding motion, surround the filling with dough and pinch the bottom firmly to seal. Roll on the work surface and shape into a ball.

Place the balls onto a parchment lined baking tray, leaving about 2cm space to allow for expansion. Repeat for the rest of the dough balls and the filling and cover with clingfilm again and allow to prove for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Once the buns have proved, brush the surface of the buns with milk or egg wash and bake the buns for around 15 minutes until the buns are an even golden brown and browned on the surfaces. Leave to cool on the trays for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool fully.

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