These Chinese bakery-influenced hot dog flower buns from Kristina Cho’s new cookbook, “Mooncakes & Milk Bread,” are so cute, you’ll be hard-pressed to bite into them once they’re out of the oven.
Makes 12 buns
• Milk bread dough, made through step 4
• All-purpose flour, for work surface
• 12 hot dogs
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
• 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
• 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, green parts only
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup sugar
1. Make the dough (see below). While the dough is proofing, line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. After the first proof, punch down to deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Pinch and pull the ends of the dough into a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions with a bench scraper (weigh with a digital scale for accuracy if you have one). Form each portion of dough into a smooth ball by pulling the ends of the dough underneath and then rolling between the palms of your hand.
3. On the work surface, roll out a portion of dough into a 7-by-17 centimeter (3-by-7 inch) rectangle (it should be large enough to wrap around a hot dog). Place a hot dog in the center of the dough and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal completely around it. Slice into six equal pieces. Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet, cut sides up, in a flower formation — one in the center, with five pieces surrounding it. Repeat with remaining dough and hot dogs. Space each bun at least seven centimeters apart. Cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel and let them rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, 45 minutes to one hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 176 C. Right before baking, whisk together the egg and cream. Brush the egg wash over the buns and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and green onions. Bake until buns are golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the glaze has thickened, one to two minutes.
Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack. Immediately brush the hot buns with glaze to cover completely. Let the buns cool for five minutes on sheets, then transfer to the rack to cool. Serve warm or cooled completely.
Note: These buns can be kept in an airtight container (a resealable bag works great) in the refrigerator for up to four days, or the freezer for up to three months. Refrigerated buns can be reheated in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds or in a 148 C oven for about five minutes, until soft and warmed through. Reheat frozen buns on a baking sheet in a 176 C oven until soft and warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes.
For the tangzhong:
• 20 grams (2 tablespoons) bread flour
• 100 grams (¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons) milk
For the milk bread:
• 125 grams (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm (43 C) milk
• 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
• 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar, plus a pinch
• 335 grams (2⅔ cups) bread flour, plus more for work surface
• ½ teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 large egg
• 55 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
• 1 teaspoon canola or other neutral-flavored oil, for bowl
1. Make the tangzhong: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the bread flour and milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, two to three minutes. Immediately transfer the paste into a small bowl, scraping the sides of the saucepan with a flexible spatula. Let cool until warm, five to 10 minutes. The texture should resemble mashed potatoes.
2. Make the milk bread: In a clean or new small saucepan, scald the milk over medium heat, bringing the milk to a gentle simmer (watch carefully, as milk tends to boil over). Pour the milk into a small bowl and cool until warm to the touch (about 43 C). Stir in the yeast and a pinch of sugar, and set aside until the surface of the mixture is foamy, five to 10 minutes.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the sugar, flour, salt and egg. Add the tangzhong-milk paste and mix on low until you have a shaggy dough. Add the softened butter one piece at a time, mixing until fully incorporated before adding the next piece. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to knead the dough until it is tacky and slightly sticky, eight to nine minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking, then pinch and pull the ends of the dough to form a smooth ball.
4. Coat a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the dough to the bowl, gently turning it to cover with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size, about two hours (or place in the refrigerator to proof for at least eight hours or overnight).
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