Hong Kong Style sausage buns (腸仔包)

The secret to a good Hong Kong bun is Tongzhong (湯種),a mixture of flour and water that has been boiled and turned into a thick paste. This is the secret ingredient keeping these buns soft and fluffy.

Hong Kong bakeries are quite unique, serving slightly sweet buns stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings. Some classic fillings include sweetened shredded coconut, pineapple (served with a thick slice of butter in the middle like a sandwich), sweetened red bean paste, dried shredded pork, curry chicken, custard, you name it. The varieties are endless! One of my childhood favorites was sausage buns: chicken sausage wrapped with a brioche sort of bun, but not a huge amount of butter. The sweetness of the bun and the savory sausage just went so well together. It’s like a Hong Kong-style hotdog!

The secret to a good Hong Kong bun is Tongzhong (湯種),a mixture of flour and water that has been boiled and turned into a thick paste. This is the secret ingredient keeping these buns soft and fluffy.

Total preparation time, from start to finish: about 3 hours.
Makes 8 buns

Tongzhong Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup bread flour
  • 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water

Whisk flour and water together until there are no more lumps. Cook in a small saucepan at medium heat, stirring frequently until it forms a thick sauce. Remove from heat and cover with lid. When it cools, the sauce will become thicker, similar to a choux dough.

Buns ingredients

  • 8 short sausages, about the length of two thumbs
  • 350 g bread flour
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 125 ml warm milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 30 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 120 g tongzhong
  • Egg wash for brushing

Recipe Preparation

Using a standing mixer, stir together a big pinch of sugar and the warm milk, then sprinkle in yeast. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes or until foamy.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix butter with whisked egg, sugar, salt, and tongzhong. Set aside.

Add butter mixture into foamy milk and mix together at low to medium speed using a whisk attachment, until well combined. Change to dough hook attachment, then add flour. At low speed, let dough knead for about 5 minutes or until just combined. Use a spatula to remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Use a dough cutter to gather dough just enough to bring it together. (Because the dough is very soft, you might want to dust it lightly with more flour before working on it.)

Place dough in a large, lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover with a damped towel or cling film. Let rest in a warm, dry place for about 1-1.5 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal portions and roll each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet and cover with cling film, then set aside for 15 minutes.

Prepare a lined baking sheet (you can use the same one to bake with later). On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a long tube, about 1.5 times the length of the sausages. Wrap each sausage in the dough tube using a spiral pattern, with the tubes slightly overlapping each other. (You want to make sure that 1 cm to 1.5 cm of the sausage shows through.) Repeat for the remaining dough and sausages. Space sausages about 1.5-2 inches apart so that they don’t bleed into one another as they rise, cover with cling film, and let rest for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C. Remove cling film and lightly brush each bun with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Rest buns on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip:

  • I sometimes turn the baking tray around once halfway through baking to ensure they brown evenly. (The side closer to the door sometimes gets browner than the ones inside.) Keep an eye out for this as you bake.
  • If the buns get brown too soon, either move the tray down one level or use another baking tray on the rack above the buns to slow the browning.
  • Brush the buns thoroughly to achieve even browning of the whole surface.

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