Introduction: Asian Hot Dog Buns

This is a recipe that is loved by my family and is great for a simple and tasty lunch or snack. The soft and fluffy dough is slightly sweet which greatly complements the savory bite of the hot dog.  It is very similar to a pastry you may find at your local Asian bread store, but made fresh to order and can save you quite a penny.

You may find that the dough is pretty big when it proofs to yield 6 buns. I personally think the volume of bread versus hot dog is perfect, but you can possibly split the dough to yield more than 6 buns. Baking time will differ, of course, so keep a close eye on the bread. From my experience though, this dough is very forgiving.

Step 1: Create the Tang Zhong

This water-roux starter is the secret ingredient to creating super soft bread that lasts for days without adding any unhealthy additives or conditioners.  To create this, do the following:

1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water

The ingredients will always have a weight ratio of 1:5. I like using the designated amounts above because it is easy to remember. Mix the ingredients in a pot and heat up. Keep mixing the lumps away. Once the mixture reaches 65 deg C, it will quickly get the the point where the mixture thickens up and you should be able to create indentations that will stay as shown in the image. You can eye-ball this or use a cooking thermometer to check.  Take the pot off the heat and let it cool.  Store it in the fridge overnight with a piece of saran wrap directly on top to avoid drying out. The tang zhong will be good for about 3 days, but make a new batch if it turns grey.

This method was first published by Yvonne Chen's in Bread Doctor. For more information, check out the book here.

Step 2: Ingredients

You will need the following ingredients:

2 ½ cups bread flour
3 tbsp and 2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup milk
120 g tang zhong
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces at room temperature)

6 hot dogs
1 egg used for egg wash

(You will need the top list for the dough kneading, and the last two ingredients for the final steps of this recipe. Hence, the hot dog and egg wash isn't shown in the image here. ^^;)

Step 3: Kneading

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast. I strongly recommend using a bread machine or dough mixer to knead the dough because it will be a very wet dough and will make kneading by hand difficult. You can still do it by hand, but will of course take more effort.  Some people like this to get stress out.  (I used to do this but got lazy. :) )

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the milk, egg and tang zhong. Mix and knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue the kneading process.  Kneading will take approximately 20 minutes by bread machine and 30 minutes by hand.

Step 4: Checking the Dough

To test your dough to see if it has been kneaded properly, gently stretch a portion of dough out.  If it breaks with a clean and round hole, it is ready for the next step: proofing.

Step 5: Proof the Dough

Move the dough into a oiled bowl and cover with a saran wrap. Let it proof for approximately 50 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Step 6: Prepare to Shape Dough

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and knead each piece briefly to punch out the gas.  Then stretch the dough into a long shape, cover in wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Step 7: Twist Dough Around Hot Dog

With each dough piece, stretch it to about 2.5x the length of the hot dog and twist it around the hot dog.  Let it proof for a second time for approximately 50 minutes again or until it has doubled in size.  Lightly brush an egg wash over the top of the dough and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Please enjoy!  These are best eaten fresh from the oven while the bread is at its softest.

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