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Kaya or Coconut Jam Buns (Tangzhong Method)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 | Labels: , , , , |

I have always loved visiting bakeries ever since I was just a child- I just love the wide assortment of different buns and breads sitting on their pretty trays waiting to be savoured.  One of my favourites is the kaya bun, there's nothing like biting into a soft and fluffy bun with warm and delicious kaya oozing out!  So of course, once I learnt to make bread using the tangzhong (湯種) method courtesy of Christine from Christine's recipes, I just had to try making my own version of kaya buns especially since I had half of the tangzhong (water roux starter) leftover from my raisin bread.  Kaya is a coconut jam flavoured with fragrant screwpine leaves (pandan leaves) that is extremely popular in the South East Asian region.


Bread made with the tangzhong method turns out especially soft and fluffy, this simple flour paste starter is cooked to 65 degrees celcius and apparently how it works is that it allows the dough to retain more moisture and increases the leavening effect which gives us softer and fluffier bread.  No worries if you don't have a bread machine, I kneaded the dough with my hands.  Just try not to add too much additional flour in the process of kneading (you will feel like you need to) because the dough will be stickier than usual but just persevere and you can still make soft and fluffy bread sans a machine.


For me, the most fun part of making bread is the bread shaping part.  I made two shapes today for my bread, one being the kaya filled pinwheel-like buns and the other being just simple sweet buttered rolls.  I have always been apprehensive making bread at home in the past as the process seemed so intimidating but after discovering this method, I will be making a lot more bread at home! 

Recipe for bread from Christine's Recipes


For the starter:

1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water (room temperature)

For the bread:

2 1/2 cups bread flour
3 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp dry milk powder
Half of the tangzhong from above
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsps butter (room temperature)


Kaya, to taste
Sugar, to taste



For the starter:

1. Mix the bread flour with the water well, making sure there are no lumps.

2. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula frequently to keep from burning or sticking.

3. The flour paste should be getting thicker and thicker slowly. Once you see lines appearing after running your spatula through your mixture, the tangzhong is ready. This took me about 8 minutes but the time may vary so watch carefully.

4. Place the tangzhong in a bowl and wrap with clingwrap with it touching the top of the tangzhong to prevent from drying out. Let cool in room temperature and then place in fridge. I left mine overnight before using.

For the bread:

1. Firstly, combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (large enough for kneading) - the bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast. Make a well in the center of the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together, the egg, tangzhong and the milk. Pour slowly into the well of the first bowl.

2. With your hands, mix the ingredients well together until a crumbly dough starts to form. The dough will be sticky. Knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. Add in the butter and continue kneading.

3. I kneaded for about 20 minutes at least. Use the heels of your palms to knead. If you're using a bread machine, add the dry ingredients first then the wet ingredients. Add the yeast into the yeast dispenser if you have one on your machine if not, add it in last.

4. The kneading gets pretty messy especially if you did it like me - the hard way! Knead until when you stretch the dough, a kind of membrane forms and the dough feels elastic and smooth.

5. Shape the dough loosely into a ball. Place in a well-greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise to double its' size (around 1 hour).

6. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface. Deflate the dough by pummeling on it lightly. Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball shape and let rest covered with cling wrap for at least 15 minutes.

Shaping the bread:

For the pinwheel buns:
1.  Take one dough portion and flatten with your rolling pin into a flat oval shape.  Roll up and knead into a ball shape.  Flatten again with your pin and spoon about 1-2 tsps of kaya into the middle of the dough.  Add a sprinkling of sugar.  Seal up the dough by kneading into a ball shape and pinching the ends together to seal.
2.  Flatten the dough ball and then carefully make cuts at the sides of the flattened dough.  Place on greased baking tray.  Repeat with as many of the dough portions you like.

For the rolls:
1. Take one dough portion and flatten with your rolling pin into a flat oval shape.  Roll up and knead into a ball shape.  Flatten again with your rolling pin.  Roll up again.  Flatten again. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
2.  With your hands, roll the dough into a thin cylinder and hold the two ends up and gently twist the two ends together.  Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
3.  Place on greased tray.  Repeat with as many of the dough portions you like.

Before baking:
1.  Allow the bread to proof for the second time for about 1 hour (till doubled in size).
2.  Glaze the buns with beaten egg mixture and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top (optional).
3.  Bake the buns in preheated oven of 175 degrees celcius for about 30 minutes till golden brown.


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Cheah said...

I've tried making bread with the tangzhong method but found it awfully difficult to knead it as it's very, very sticky. So will always end up adding in more flour.
Think I'll give it a shot one last time!

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Quay Po Cooks said...

Your buns looks very inviting! Lovely photos!

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

Cheah - hope you do and it works for u :D

QP - thanks for your kind words!

tigerfish said...

You will be making more breads? send some over :P

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Love the fluffiness and the look of your bread. I haven't tried tangzhong method and extremely curious to try it soon.

++MIRA++ said...

i love anything coconutty, and ur bread looks so fluffy.yum

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

TF - haha ok, email me your addy please.

Ellie - thanks, I really love this method :)

Mira - thanks :)

Carolyn Jung said...

The name along makes me salivate. Coconut jam buns sounds sweet and absolutely irresistible.

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

thanks Carolyn

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I've been reading about kaya and the tangzhong method a lot recently and have been meaning to try both. This would be a great way to do both deliciously!

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

Xiaolu - you won't regret trying tangzhong (and kaya!) lol..I already have another bread post waiting to be published hehe

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