"Growing up, my mum used to have the same thing for lunch at school every day: a fizzy orange Lovely Jubbly drink and a cream bun. (Diet of champions, in my opinion.) I did a little digging around the internet and found that the cream bun is actually an Italian breakfast bun that dates back to ancient Rome. These are filled with a beautiful vanilla chantilly; however, a touch of jam piped into the centre before adding the cream wouldn’t go astray." – Emelia Jackson
- For the sweet bread dough:
- 200 ml full-cream milk
- 20 g caster sugar
- 8 g instant dried yeast
- 1 t salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 370 g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 60 g unsalted butter, softened
- For the tangzhong:
- 30 g bread flour
- 130 ml full-cream milk
- To complete the buns:
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 T milk
- Vanilla chantilly cream
- Icing sugar, for dusting
To make the sweet bread
1. This is a master recipe that you can use for all types of sweet bready bakes – finger buns, coffee scrolls, apple and walnut scrolls, Boston buns, custard scrolls, cinnamon buns, hot cross buns … the list goes on. It’s a slightly sweetened, fluffy white dough that’s lightly enriched with egg and butter – not as enriched as a brioche, but not as savoury as white bread. It’s high in yeast, which makes it almost foolproof.
2. The secret with yeasted bakes is always ensuring you give them enough time to prove, but not so much time that they overprove. Overproved dough will appear crinkled as the air pockets collapse back onto themselves. Always make sure you adjust proving time based on the temperature in your kitchen – warm summer days
will need less time and cold winter days will need more.
3. Tangzhong is a cooked roux that allows your bread to retain a lot more water while baking, resulting in a supersoft bread. Don’t be intimidated by the name – it’s a simple step that is well worth the minimal effort.
4. For the tangzhong, combine the flour and milk in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until a thick paste forms. Don’t worry about lumps – it will be kneaded into the bread anyway. In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the tangzhong, milk, sugar and yeast and mix briefly on medium–low speed to cool down the tangzhong. Next, add the salt, egg and flour and increase the speed of your mixer to medium to begin kneading.
5. This is a really wet dough so it will need to be kneaded for a good 10–15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to add any extra flour – as the dough is kneaded, it will eventually gather together. Once the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, add the butter and mix until incorporated. It will look like the dough isn’t going to absorb the butter, but just keep kneading with the mixer until it does.
6. Turn the dough out onto your lightly floured bench, flour your hands and bring the dough together into a ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap to create a nice humid environment. Leave the dough in a warm place to rise for 1– 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.
7. Once the dough has doubled, knock it back (the best bit!) by pressing down on the dough to knock out all of that beautiful air trapped inside. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured bench and gently push out the excess air. At this point, the dough is ready to shape into whatever yeasty bake you are making.
For the cream buns:
1. Knock back the risen bread dough. Turn the dough out onto your lightly floured bench and divide it into 10 even pieces. To shape the dough into perfect balls, cup your hand around a dough ball and move it in a circular motion until it forms a smooth ball.
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone baking mat and place the balls on the tray, leaving 5 cm (2 inches) between them to allow for rising (you don’t want them to be touching each other when baking). Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until puffy and doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
3. Whisk the egg yolks with the milk, then brush it over the puffy buns. Bake the buns for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
4. Slice each bun across the top without cutting through to the base. Fill the slits with the chantilly cream and use a spatula to smooth off the excess. Serve the buns dusted with icing sugar.
This is an extract from First, Cream the Butter and Sugar: The essential baking companion by Emelia Jackson (Murdoch Books). Photography by Armelle Habib.