50% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Buns
Having friends over and wanted to offer fresh bread with our meal. I wanted something that could be easily timed to be ready this morning that I could quickly warm up at dinner time. In order to reduce the work to do today I prepared the levain Thursday night, Friday morning it was ready and I placed it into the fridge. Friday afternoon I prepared the dough and did bulk and placed the dough in the fridge overnight for the cold retard. I don’t usually cold retard these milk breads because I don’t want them to be sour. Given the levain was a stiff sweet levain, it should reduce the sourness even with a cold retard. We’ll see when we have these tonight.
Levain (white band)
Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 50% growth.
Press down with your knuckles to create a uniform surface and to push out air.
At room temperature, it typically takes 7-9 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.
In a sauce pan set on med heat with about 1.5 cm of water, place the bowl of your stand mixer creating a Bain Marie, whisk the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 5 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar, diastatic malt and levain. Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces. Next add the flour and vital wheat gluten. I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas. Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes. Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins. You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing. Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time. The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before drizzling or adding in more butter. Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium. Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins. You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane. You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat. This is a good time to add inclusions such as my favorite black sesame seeds, that way they do not interfere with the gluten development. If you add inclusions mix until they are well incorporated in the dough.
On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2.5-3.5 hours at 82ºF. There may be some rise visible at this stage.
You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape. Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer. Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.
Prepare your pans by greasing them or line with parchment paper.
Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into 8. Shape each tightly into boules, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then shape tightly into boules. Place them into your prepared pan.
Cover and let proof for 6-8 hours at a warm temperature. I proof at 82°F. You will need longer than 3-4 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash. Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.
Bake the rolls for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Shield your buns if they get brown early in the baking process. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the buns are still hot and sprinkle with flaked salt.
These buns grew so much that they ended up being pull apart buns rather than fully individual buns, not a bad problem to have.