Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Asian Hotdog Buns - the poolish starter dough method

Bread baking using a pre-fermented starter dough is nothing new to me. I have made a few loaves of really good ciabatta using the biga starter before and some noteworthy baguettes using the French poolish (No, it is not a bad word!)

So, why haven't I incorporate those methods to make the ubiquitous Asian buns which my family loves so much? Because I have never thought of it. Or maybe I have been so comfortable using the Asian Water Roux bread making method that I am biased towards it.

Why venture beyond my comfort zone? Well, it is about time and you can always learn something new.

In come this recipe from Corner Cafe ,whose wisdom to feature the article of bread making using a 16-hour bread poolish method in making Asian buns, a true gem in my book. That just opens up a new can of worms entirely. You mean I can actually incorporate other cultures bread making techniques into the Asian bun making frontier? Boy, oh boy! The dawn of a new Asian buns baking era has just begin, at least for me.

Just like the Water Roux method, the poolish buns give you that soft, moist, fluffy bun texture. However, I find that by using the poolish method, the buns seem to have a far more superior result compared to the water roux method, this come from a die hard water roux Asian bread making advocate.

The dough is extremely pliable, very easy to work with even for a beginner. The buns seem to stay really moist even the next day, unlike the water roux method whereby you will begin to see that the bread has dried out somewhat the following day, even if you store them in a ziploc freezer bag.

The drawback, of course, is the 17 hour total waiting time before you can use the poolish. To make the poolish, you have to first combine the following in a clean deep bowl.

Poolish Starter

150g bread flour
150g lukewarm water
1/8 tsp of rapid rise or instant yeast

Once you have combined all the ingredients, it has to be left in a warm place for 1 hour, covered. After which, it has to be stored in the refrigerator for a total of 16 hours prior to use. You heard me right, 16 hours. I dreaded the waiting period in my first attempt. As any bakers out there will tell you, when you chance upon a new recipe which you want to give it a try, you want to see the yield almost immediately. Preferably, the same day.

Nah ah! Not with this recipe. You have to ensure that you sit cool as a cucumber for 16 hours while the starter has time to rest and ferment overnight. To circumvent anxiousness and my inability to wait patiently for the long duration of time, I made my first batch of poolish the night before. More like at 6 in the evening, and that will give me a ready batch of poolish to work with in the morning. At least after 9am. No one should bake before 9am, unless you work in a commercial setting.

Then the fun begins.

1. Measure out your dry ingredients. Here you will need
250g bread flour
100g cake flour (or regular all purpose)
15g milk powder
50g sugar (if you prefer a sweeter dough, increase the sugar to 70g)

2. To this dry mix, you will add in
1 egg, beaten
100 to 120 ml of lukewarm water (use milk if you have omitted the milk powder in the step above)

3. Combine all ingredients till you get a slightly sticky dough. Knead to get a smooth dough. You can do this in a bread machine, a stand mixer or simply knead it by hand. I have done all three methods and found that kneading using the stand mixer will give you the best result.

4. Leave dough in a well greased bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let dough proof for 1 hour in a warm, dry place.

5. After the first proofing is done, take dough out and place it on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Divide dough equally into 12 portions. If you are making plain rolls, divide it into 16 portions. Roll dough into a tight ball and let rest for 10 mins before shaping.

6. Here's when the fun begins. I have learned from the aforementioned blog on how to shape your hotdog buns in the form of a croissant, sort of. First, you will want to roll the dough into a carrot shape.

Using a rolling pin. stretch the dough out thin, start from the narrow end and work your way to the wide end.

7. Place a hotdog on the wide end of the dough, the dough need not encase the entire length of the hotdog.

 Roll the dough towards the narrow end, you will end up with a croissant-shaped bun.

8. Placed rolled hotdog buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment, or lightly greased with butter, cover and let rise for 30 mins.

9. Preheat oven to 355F. Brush egg wash lightly on top of rolls. Bake for a full 22 mins, turning the pan halfway to ensure even browning. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

You can also change the filling to ham and cheese. Those are always a big hit at our house.


  1. Do you think these will work with tuna fish filling? i tried the plain version a few weeks ago and it turned out great. I have seen tuna fish ones at chinese bakery...think i can do that with this style of bun?

    1. Absolutely! If u r making tuna bun filling, just make sure that you have the filling covered by the dough. Else, exposed filling will dry out.

  2. Reese, how do you think I should apply the poolish dough to other bread recipes? As far as measurements go. How do you use it in your other recipes?

    1. Generally, I weigh all my ingredients both dry and liquid to come up with the same ratio for other bread recipes. Rule of thumb is add the liquid (usually water)slowly when kneading the dough till you get the right consistency.

  3. Hi Reese,

    Instead of using bread flour, could i just use all-purpose flour?

    1. Absolutely! Just keep in mind that if u r using all purpose, the bread will have less gluten in it. So expect a softer bun than the regular chew u will get from using bread flour

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  5. Instead of using dry milk, can I just use regular milk?

    1. Yes. Just use 100ml of lukewarm milk in place of the water called for in the second step of the recipe.

  6. You did not mention what to do with the poolish after 16 hours. In step 3 of the dry ingredients, when you say combine all ingredients, do you mean add the poolish also?

    1. Yes. Do add the poolish with the rest of the ingredients

    2. Yes. Do add the poolish with the rest of the ingredients

  7. Can i use this recipe to make pizza dough

    1. I don't see why not. The dough does make a nice moist bread. It may not produce the crust of a regular pizza but give it a shot.