The world of food is fascinating. It seems there is always something that gets created everyday that can serve each and every person’s gastronomic whim. Whatever version you prefer of a particular dish or food item, there’s bound to be a recipe for it. It’s bound to exist.
Food is one of those things you will never run out of opportunities to discover. You will always have the chance to form opinions and establish favourites because eating is an everyday thing. I guess that’s why I enjoy this whole food blogging business so much. I feel like with every dish that I make, or every plate that is set down before me, there are endless possibilities. Endless options and tweaks and new flavours that can be added.
Let’s take bread as a classic example. Bread is easily the most customizable food item out there and so it is one of my favourites to make in the kitchen. I feel like at any moment I can create something amazing.
There are people who like crusty breads and people who like fluffy breads. There are people who like breads filled with a savoury concoction while others like it sweet. I consider myself a lover of bread (both eating and making) in general, so usually my preference depends on the situation. Crusty bread is better eaten with soup and pasta, or with dips. But fluffy breads are typically already filled or flavoured, and you can eat it on its own without having to “soak” it in anything.
Crusty breads are rustic and absolutely beautiful, while many of its fluffy counterparts tend to be cute, especially the Asian versions. Enter any Asian bakery and you will see their breads in all odd shapes and sizes, some even with faces piped on them. (Not necessarily a bad thing!)
Cuteness aside, most days I feel partial towards softer kinds of bread. Breads made using the tangzhong method in particular are a personal favourite of mine. Considering that I’ve made many a tangzhong bread recipe in the past, I’m surprised I’ve only ever managed to share one on the blog! It’s about time I change that!
The tangzhong method always produces the softest breads for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a flop recipe using this method. And it’s actually quite easy, with the patterns similar from bread to bread. Only this time the bread is actually shaped in a special way– like a horn! Or a conch shell if you will. Since I am not a professional bread maker I don’t have specialty equipments like the cream horn moulds required for this recipe. (Didn’t even know there was such a thing!) Luckily we can DIY that little problem using ice cream sugar cones and aluminum foil!
Now let’s talk about the filling for a second. When I visit Asian bakeries I tend to go for the more savoury options, especially the ones filled with curry or topped with spicy pork floss. I’m not much for cream fillings though if you would notice, most Asian desserts actually feature cream quite a lot. Usually the frosting for the layer cakes are also cream based, so it only makes sense that bread fillings tend to be this way too. Admittedly I am not crazy for cream fillings, but what can you do when the bread looks like this?! Why you eat it of course!
- 1/3 cup bread flour
- 1 cup water
- 210 grams bread flour
- 56 grams cake flour
- 20 grams milk powder
- 42 grams granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 grams instant yeast
- 1 large egg, whisked and divided
- 85 grams water
- 84 grams tangzhong
- 22 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 5 to 6 tablespoons Nutella (or other chocolate-hazelnut spread)
- 1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk flour into the water until completely dissolved and no lumps remain.
- 2. Set the pan on the stove at medium heat and begin to stir as the mixture heats up. To avoid burning, stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Keep stirring until the mixture forms lines right on the path where you stir your spoon. (If using a thermometer, stir until the temperature of the mixture reaches 65 degrees Celsius.) Turn off the heat and take the mixture off the stove. Transfer immediately to another to stop the cooking process and let cool.
- 3. Once tangzhong has cooled (or just the tiniest bit warm), press clingfilm right on the surface to prevent the tangzhong from forming skin. Place in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Make sure to use within a few days as this does not keep well.
- 4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, and instant yeast. Make a well in the center and add in water, half the whisked egg, and 84 grams of the tangzhong.
- 5. Using a wooden spoon (or the dough hook attachment on medium speed), begin mixing until the dough becomes shaggy. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer, then pour in the melted butter.
- 6. Using the dough hook, knead on low speed until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on mixer. To tell if the dough is ready, take a chunk of dough and carefully and gently stretch it out. You should be able to stretch it out to a very thin membrane before it breaks. When it does break, a circular hole-like shape on the stretched dough should form.
- 7. Now gather up the dough and put in a lightly-greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a wet kitchen towel. Let proof until doubled in size, about 40 minutes to an hour depending on weather conditions.
- 8. After the first rise, transfer the dough to a clean surface. Deflate and divide dough into 9 equal portions. Knead the portions into ball shapes and let rest covered in plastic wrap for 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
- 9. Roll dough out to form long rope. Wrap the dough around a cream horn mould** about 5 times more or less, starting at the bottom tip of the cone. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- 10. Repeat with the rest of the dough, then let proof another 40 minutes. About 20 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 350F (180C).
- 11. Brush the rest of the whisked egg on the surface of each risen horn. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tops turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before removing bread from the cream horn moulds.
- 12. Use an electric mixer or whisk (and a strong arm), beat the whipping cream and Nutella until stiff peaks form. Transfer cream into piping bag the fill the horns with the tip of the bag touching the bottom and making its way up slowly, to make sure the whole bread is filled.
- 13. Nutella cream horns can be eaten cold or at room temperature, though I rather enjoy the cream a bit more when it’s cold.
- * This tangzhong recipe makes nearly twice as much tangzhong as you need for this bread. Use the other half to make other tangzhong breads such as this Matcha & Chocolate Swirl Bread.
- ** To make your own horn moulds, use a sugarcone (yes, for ice cream!) and wrap it with aluminum foil. To prevent bread from sticking and giving you a difficult time when removing it, brush the aluminum foil lightly with oil or butter. (Don’t worry; you can still use the cones for ice cream after.)
Have you ever tried Asian tangzhong bread? What’s your favourite kind? 🙂