Charcoal Buns with Salted Egg Yolk Custard Filling

This is based off one of my favourite dim sums of all time.

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If this is your first time hearing about salted egg yolk, it’s way different from just adding salt to a regular egg yolk. Usually salted egg is made from preserving duck eggs, and you end up with an incredibly rich, creamy and slightly salty yolk. It’s really common to use salted egg yolk as an ingredient in cooking and in desserts back in Singapore.

And it’s your first time seeing charcoal, don’t worry. It’s edible. Some people use it for health benefits, but I just use it because it looks cool.

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My favourite dim sum of all time is 流沙包 (liu sha bao, or golden lava buns). Although not the norm, charcoal is sometimes added to the steamed bun. It doesn’t really add much of a taste, I think the black colour just looks super dramatic with the yellow custard.

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So this bread is based off that dim sum. I’m just wrapping the same filling with bread instead of a steamed bun.

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Biting into it, you get the slightly salty, super rich custard oozing into your mouth. This is encased by the soft and fluffy enriched bread, resembling the type of bread I get in Singapore rather than in London.

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The custard wasn’t as lava-y as I wanted it unfortunately, might have to adjust it next time. It was still oozy and very satisfying though!

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I adapted the bread recipe dough from here, and added some charcoal powder. I took the salted egg yolk custard recipe from here.

Ingredients (makes 9 buns)

Bread

  • 255g bread flour
  • 13g bamboo charcoal powder
  • 3g instant yeast
  • 1 large egg, topped up to 180g with whipping cream (see notes)
  • 30g sugar
  • 2g salt
  • 30g butter (add if you use more than 80g of whipping cream)
  • White sesame seeds to decorate

Filling

  • 70g caster sugar
  • 65 custard powder
  • 55g milk powder
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 3 salted egg yolks, cooked and mashed
  • 2 tbsp evaporated milk

Method

Bread

  1. Mix all ingredients except the butter together and knead till smooth and elastic.
  2. Incorporate the butter and knead till you reach the windowpane stage.
  3. Place in a covered bowl and let rise till doubled in size, about an hour.

Filling

  1. Mix the custard powder, caster sugar, and milk powder. Stir until well combined.
  2. Add in the butter and evaporated milk and mix until it forms a paste.
  3. Add in the salted egg yolks and mix. Put in freezer for 5 mins to make it easier to work with.
  4. Divide to 9 balls and freeze until needed.

Assemble

  1. When the bread has doubled in size, divide into 9 balls.
  2. Shape each ball to create a smooth surface, and then flatten the ball.
  3. Place one of the frozen custard balls in the center of the dough disc and enclose the custard ball. Make sure there are no holes or the custard will leak when baking.
  4. Place the buns on a lined baking sheet, leaving enough space for the buns to expand when rising and baking.
  5. Cover the buns with some cling film and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  6. Decorate the buns with some white sesame seeds and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for about 25 mins.

Notes

  • Regarding the one egg topped up to 180g thing. Basically what that means is if your egg is 80g, add 100g of whipping cream.
  • I ended up having to add a bit more water to bring the dough together, about 3 tbsp worth.
  • If you used more than 80g of cream, don’t add the butter.
  • The frozen custard dough will retard the second rise of the dough, take that into consideration when planning the bake.
  • It can be difficult to judge when the bread is done since it is so dark, I just judged it by smell.
  • The times given for proofing the dough are a rough guide, since it is very dependent on temperature. Follow the visual cues (ie doubled in size) rather than the exact timing.
  • For extra decadence, eat the buns with some butter.
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