Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lightened Up Japanese Coconut Custard Buns

You'll have to forgive the blurry, yellow pictures.  Bad lighting + camera phone = less than stellar photos. But they were super stellar rolls!
So ever since we went to the Oriental Mart down the road to pick up sushi grade salmon for DH's surf and turf rolls, I've been craving the amazing custard buns they have.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure they're like a million calories each.  And there don't appear to be any lighter recipes for them online.  At least that I can find, and I like to consider myself a master of Google-Fu. So I made it my mission to create a lighter version of the delicious sweet rolls.  I resisted the urge to buy a pack of the Oriental Mart buns to do a side-by-side comparison because then I would have had two whole batches of them in my apartment.  And I would have eaten them.  All. And enjoyed it immensely. ;-)
When looking for a good recipe on Pinterest (where else?!), I kept getting kicked back to this page on Christine's Recipes.  It seemed like a very popular and delicious-looking recipe, so I used it for guidance when trying to come up with my own lighter version. I was able to reduce the calories from about 450 each to 190 (According to the My Fitness Pal app calculations), and from 17 g of fat to less than 3 g.  I was pretty excited about that.  Granted, the biggest drop in calories is because I cut the size in half, but they were still a pretty decent size even at half volume, and super tasty, if I do say so myself.
I made the tangzhong as indicated in Christine's Bacon and Cheese Bread recipe. This is how mine came out.  Looking back at Christine's pics, I probably should have cooked it a little longer... oh well.  It worked and they turned out deliciously, so I'm calling it a win!

 After making the tangzhong, I started in on the filling.  This is where I tried to cut the most calories/fat out of the recipe.  Instead of butter and egg yolks, I used fat free pudding and fat free evaporated milk. Next time, I think I would use instant pudding instead, but the instant packet I grabbed this time was banana cream, not vanilla.  Oops! I think I'll also buzz the coconut in the mini chopper to get it in a slightly finer grind.


 Like I said before, the biggest cut in calories was when I cut the rolls in half to make twelve instead of six.  They still came out about fist sized, which makes a great light breakfast, in my opinion.  I think full size would have been a bit much for me anyway.


 I did find that I had some difficulty with doing the filling the way that Christine did in her recipe (the filling kept squirting out of the ends when I tried to roll it the second time), so I experimented a bit and found that the way that worked best for me was to roll the dough out in a six inch or so disc and spread the filling on it as in the picture below, then fold the sides up over the filling and roll it in my hands to smooth the top and sides out and get all the seams on the bottom.


 Going into the oven after the second rise!  You can see one of the ones where I followed the recipe instructions for rolling them in the left pan.  the right pan are all rolled as described above.  The pan of water underneath had boiling water in it when they were rising.

 The rolls below baked about 12 minutes, which is less than I was expecting.  I love how shiny they are! (This is after topping with syrup, which helps the shine.)


And in this pic, you can see the fluffy slightly sweet bread and veins of coconut filling, which was distributed throughout the entire thing, so you didn't get big sections with no filling. yay!


Anywho... like I said at the top of this post, I didn't do a side-by-side comparison with the real thing, so I was just basing it on the memory of the one time I got these rolls months ago, but I was very happy with the results! Hope you are too!

"Lightened Up" Japanese Custard Buns
Based on Christine's Japanese Style Coconut Custard Buns

1/3 c flour
1 c water

Combine flour and water in small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat with stirring (occasional at first, constantly once it starts to thicken) until mixture thickens and holds lines with stirring.  Remove from heat and cool before using.

3/4 c shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that's all our Walmart had, but I think it would be good with unsweetened as well, and cut a few more calories/sugar. Optional- pulse in food processor to get a finer grind)
1 pkg (0.8 oz) cook and serve sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding
1/2 c fat free evaporated milk
1/4 c fat free dry milk

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan.  Cook over low/medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool before using.  (Note: You could probably do this with instant pudding and skip the cooking altogether, but I only had cook and serve...)

2 1/2 c flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp fat free dry milk
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 recipe tangzhong (above)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp reduced fat margarine

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Add yeast and let sit five minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet mixture, and mix until combined.  Knead until smooth.  Add butter and continue to knead until you can stretch a piece of the dough into a thin "window" without ripping (See here for a complete explanation of this test). Cover the dough and let rise in a warm area for about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, turn it out onto the counter.  I put flour down, but it wasn't really necessary.  Use your judgment here. Cut the dough into twelve even pieces and roll into balls. Let rest 15 minutes.

Roll each ball out into a six inch (-ish) circle.  Spread filling over the dough, leaving about an inch clear around the edge (see image above). Fold the dough over the filling and roll between your hands to make a smooth-topped ball.  Place seam-side down in a greased pan, with space for rising (dough will about double in size). Let rise another 40-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Brush with egg wash.  Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes, until browned. Brush tops with syrup (below) and cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

1 tsp sugar
2 tsp warm water

Makes 12 rolls.

Calories: 190
Fat: 2.9 g
Carbs: 34.2 g (Sugar 8.3 g)
Protein: 5.8 g