Topped with Singapore's favourite egg cream coating and pork floss, these cottony soft sweet milk buns are made using the tangzhong method - an old Japanese bakery secret used to make ultra soft Asian breads!
Add 25g of bread flour and 125ml in a small pot. Whisk together until it forms a smooth solution (no lumps).
Place the pot over the stove to cook over low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture should start to thicken. The roux is ready when you are able to see the bottom of the pot as you stir the mixture. Transfer the roux to a bowl to cool. Meanwhile, measure out the rest of the ingredients.
In the bread pan, add 250g of bread flour and cooled roux. Then pour the water around the flour like a moat. This allows for better mixing of the ingredients.
Set the bread machine to Menu 9 (Bread Dough) and press start. The bread machine should commence gentle mixing. After 5-7 minutes when the ingredients just start to come together, stop the machine and let stand for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, open the lid and add in the salt, sugar, milk powder, egg, condensed milk, butter and bread improver into the bread pan.
Close the lid and add in the yeast into the yeast dispenser. Set the bread machine to Menu 9 again and press start. When the machine makes a clicking sound, the yeast is being dispensed (about 10 minutes into the kneading process).
The bread machine should continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes, before it moves on to the 45 minutes proofing stage. By the end of the proofing time, the dough should be double the size. If the dough is not doubled in size, cover the machine and allow to rise for another 10-15 minutes.
Oil your hands lightly, then push down the dough by using your fist to press gently but firmly down in the middle of the dough. This helps to release trapped air. Next, place the dough on a lightly oiled surface. Use a dough cutter to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces (68-74g each) using a weighing scale.
Before shaping, it is good to let the dough rest for 10 minute (optional). The rest period relaxes the gluten and makes the buns easier to shape. Otherwise they may spring back when you are trying to roll them out. While resting, cover the dough with a damp towel to prevent a crust from forming on the surface.
For a more uniform layered crumb, follow this shaping technique. Use a rolling pin to lightly flatten the dough to get rid of large bubbles, then roll it up. Repeat this step, then shape it into a ball. To get a smooth surface, you can either 1) stretch the skin of the bun and fold them together under the bun or 2) drag them along the surface with your hand to tighten the skin and tuck in any 'wrinkles.
Place the buns on a tray lined with baking paper about 2.5-3 inches apart. You may need to do 2 trays like what we did.
Place the tray(s) in a small enclosed area with 2 large bowls of hot water for the 2nd proof. This should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the buns double in size. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius.
Once the dough has doubled in size, brush the buns gently with egg wash if you want a shiny brown colour (optional). Bake the buns on the lowest rack at 180 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Keep an eye on it. If the bun browns too quickly, cover the browned parts with aluminium foil so it does not turn too brown.
Remove the buns and place on a wire rack to cool.
Prepare the egg cream by mixing condensed milk and mayonnaise.
Once the buns are cool, slice them open (but not until the end) and butter them with the egg cream. Then coat the top of the buns with a thick coating of egg cream.
Fluff the pork floss, then coat the buns with the pork floss and serve immediately.