Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Custard Filling

It’s time for some oozy-gooey-flowy matcha.

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Ok so some people seem to get disgusted by the idea of a green sticky filling. Reminds them of snot or something. Well it’s time to open your mind and broaden your horizons because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore. And some of that world consists of green custard, alright?

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The green custard is restrained by charcoal bread, which colour is more for dramatic effect rather than any health benefits, really. Charcoal powder is used quite commonly in Asian baking. I’ve used it before in my Charcoal Bread with Salted Egg Yolk Filling, but this time I’m going to be using a different recipe which I think yields a softer bun.

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Get some dramatic sunrise lighting on those buns.

Charcoal Buns with Green Tea Matcha Filling

If your ability to wrap a filling is better than mine, you’ll probably end up with more custard in your buns. And for those that haven’t eaten matcha before it’s like ground-up green tea, also commonly used in Asian cooking. It kinda has a mildly bitter, earthy taste, but I think it complements sweet things really well.

I used my standard Asian-style bread recipe originally used here, and just adjusted for the charcoal powder. I got the recipe for the filling from here.

Ingredients (makes about 12 buns)

Green Tea Custard

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g flour
  • 10g matcha powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 300g bread flour (2 1/2 cup minus about a tbsp)
  • 14g charcoal powder
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)

Method

Matcha Custard

  1. In a pot, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and green tea powder.
  2. Add in the milk and set over medium-high heat. Heat until the custard thickens, stirring continuously.
  3. When the custard is thick enough that when you dribble a bit back in the dribble briefly retains its shape, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. Divide up the custard into tbsp-sized portions and place on a lined baking sheet (making sure you have at least 12 portions, or however many buns you want to make). Freeze until solid.

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, charcoal powder, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and roll flat.
  5. Place a tbsp of the frozen matcha custard in the middle of the dough disc, and wrap the dough around the custard well, making sure to seal tightly.
  6. Let the buns rise until doubled in size, about 1.5h.
  7. After doubled in size, brush the tops of the buns with some oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
  8. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins.

Notes

  • 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.
  • You have to use ground up matcha powder don’t use green tea leaves.
  • Make sure to seal the buns well!! The custard is super gooey and will seep out of any holes you’ve missed.
  • Use vanilla essence/extract whichever you prefer.
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Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

One of my favourite flavours of ice cream!

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I’m just obsessed with matcha-flavoured desserts. The slight bitterness of it together with its fresh flavour works really well in sweet stuff.

I’ve always liked my matcha ice cream to be a little on the bitter side. But some people don’t really like that, so I think the amount of sugar used in this recipe is a happy compromise.

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I’ve basically been exclusively using recipes from icecreamscience because the ice cream that I get is just unbelievably smooth and creamy.

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This is essentially the same recipe as my previous lemon curd ice cream, but with slightly less sugar and replacing the lemon curd with matcha powder.

Ingredients

  • 417g double cream (see notes)
  • 319g semi-skimmed milk
  • 46g skimmed milk powder
  • 120g sugar
  • 78g egg yolks (about 4 eggs)
  • 20g matcha powder

Method

  1. Mix yolks, sugar, skimmed milk powder, and matcha powder vigorously together in a large saucepan. This is to stop the yolks from curdling.
  2. Mix in the cream and milk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. You’re aiming to hold the mixture at about 71°C for about 20 mins to reduce the mixture by 15% by weight. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just try to hold the mixture at the point when it’s steaming slightly (not too much and DEFINITELY not at a boil) and reduce it till it coats the back of your spoon. If you overheat your mixture you will get an eggy hydrogen sulfide taste.
  4. Cool the mixture down as fast as you can, preferably by cooling it in a container in an ice bath. Once it’s cool put it in the fridge to age overnight. This is to reduce the bacteria growing so the ice cream keeps for longer.
  5. The next day, put the ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine.
  6. When the ice cream reaches the texture desired, stop churning and immediately store your ice cream in the freezer set at the lowest temperature (orrr you could just eat it straight away).
  7. To eat, allow to thaw for 10 mins first.

Notes

  • If you know the fat percentage of the cream you’re using, you can use other cream. Go to icecreamscience’s original blog post to calculate the adjusted recipe amounts (he has an excel sheet).
  • Holding the ice cream at 71°C makes the proteins in the milk undergo reversible unfolding which contributes to the creamy texture of the ice cream.
  • If your freezer can’t go as low as -18°C (like mine), I recommend eating the ice cream within a day or two. It can get icy if you can’t store it at low enough temperatures.

Matcha Green Tea Milk Bread with Azuki Red Bean Filling

You can’t go wrong with matcha and red bean.

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I tried using the water roux method for this bread (AKA tang zhong or 汤种/湯種). This is a technique mostly used in Asian breads, where the the flour and water is cooked first before adding to the dough.

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This results in a soft, fluffy bun that you usually find in Asian bakeries (esp Hong Kong style ones). They’re a little sweeter and richer than Western style breads. Apparently they also stay softer and moister for longer.

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Not that I would know since mine was finished within a day.

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The dough basically resembles an enriched dough, but more elastic and very soft.

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Matcha green tea and sweetened red beans (AKA azuki beans) is also a tried and tested combination in Japanese/Asian desserts. The slightly bitter flavour of the matcha complements the sweetness of the red beans really well.

If this is your first time seeing this kind of filling (it’s also known as anko) it really does not taste like the kidney beans or whatever beans you put in your chilli (well it’s still bean-y but it’s subtle and not in a savoury way). It’s sort of cinnamon-y but it doesn’t have cinnamon in it and the flavour’s just really unique (and very East Asian I’m getting massive nostalgia). Give it a try it’s really good.

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I adapted the recipe from here. I used some store-bought red bean paste but if you want to try making your own there’s a recipe here.

Honestly, you get a soft bread but it didn’t taste that different from my usual enriched bread. Maybe I added too much flour (my weighing scale failed halfway and I had to guess the amount of flour to add), or I didn’t rise it enough, or I just used the wrong recipe. But it just didn’t reach the level of fluffiness I usually expect from Asian-style breads. I’d probably try a different recipe source next time.

Ingredients (makes 9)

Water roux/tangzhong

  • 28g plain flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Bread

  • 1/2 cup milk, slightly warmed (but definitely not hot to the touch)
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (6.3g, or 1 packet)
  • 20g matcha powder
  • 350g all-purpose flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 42g butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 400g anko/sweetened red bean paste
  • White sesame seeds (for decorating)

Method

Water roux

  1. Mix the flour (28g) in water well until there are no lumps.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  3. The mixture will get thicker. Once lines appear in the roux for every stir, it is ready.
  4. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm is sticking to the surface of the roux.
  5. Let cool to room temperature before using.

Bread

  1. Mix the milk, egg, yeast, and matcha powder together.
  2. Add 120g of the water roux and mix.
  3. Mix in the flour, sugar, and salt.
  4. When the ingredients come together, knead in the butter until smooth and elastic.
  5. Let proof till doubled in size (about 40 mins). Punch down, shape into 9 balls, and let rest for about 15 mins.
  6. Flour a work surface and your rolling pin well. Roll each ball out into a circle and add some red bean paste in the middle, and then close the dough around the filling. Roll the bun to shape it. You can pull on the surface of the bread and tuck the excess at the bottom to create a smooth top.
  7. Leave for a second proof (about 30 mins).
  8. Egg wash the bread, and sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top. Bake at 180°C for 30-35 mins until browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Notes

  • The dough is a little wet and when you’re first kneading but just keep working at it and it’ll come together better.
  • The dough also, for some reason, becomes easier to work with after the first proof.
  • It’s better to let it proof to the description (ie doubled in size) rather than following the timings. The timings are just a guide and is very variable on other factors like temperature.
  • The egg wash just gives the bread a better colour and shine.
  • Use a good matcha powder! The good ones are usually in an opaque container and quite bright green in colour (and not as a result of additives). This was the one I used. It’s called Ujinotsuyu Matcha Hagoromo.