Tender and fluffy bun along with the sweet and creamy custard melt together in your mouth to create something amazing! Custard buns are so popular in Asian bakeries for a reason, and now you can make some fresh in your own home!
Custard buns are very popular in Taiwan, you can find it in every bakery. It's usually a round bun with a custard swirl on top of the bun for decoration. After I came to the US, I was looking for custard buns but couldn't find them in any local grocery store.
I was surprised that something so popular in many Asian countries was nowhere to be found here. But now that I know how to make a good custard bun, I can just make it whenever I want (yay!).
Ingredients You'll Need
- Bread flour - bread flour is the key for this recipe, replacing with all purpose flour is not recommended as you won't get the same texture.
- Cake flour - adding a small amount of cake flour into the dough is an easy way to make the bread lighter and fluffier.
- Milk - use whole milk.
- Instant yeast - Saf instant yeast is highly recommended, you will be surprised with how it can improve the texture of the bun. I use the gold label Saf, but the red label will work just fine.
- Sweetened condensed milk - it gives the bun a sweet aromatic milk flavor. You can also replace it with honey.
- Butter - use good quality unsalted butter.
- Pearl Sugar - Optional, mainly for decoration.
How to Assemble the Bun
Method 1 - Round Shape
Roll the dough out to a 3"- 4" round, place 30 - 40 g (about 1 scoop / 2 tbsp) of custard in the center of the dough.
Lift up two edges (3 and 9 o'clock directions), and quickly pinch them together, do the same thing at the 12 and 6 o'clock directions and then pinch everything else together tightly.
Method 2 - Semi-Circle Shape
If forming a round bun is too challenging, try rolling the dough out into an oval to fold in half into a half circle shaped bun.
The trick is to lift up the top part of the dough and stretch it out before quickly folding down and pinching the edge together tightly. Basically, you want to do it fast enough so that the custard won't get a chance to flow to the edge.
After the second proof, brush the top of the buns with a thin layer of the leftover egg mixture. You can either pipe the leftover custard on the surface in a swirl pattern or sprinkle some pearl sugar or other topping of your choice.
Tips & Tricks
- Check out my milk bun recipe for more details on how to make soft and fluffy buns.
- If you prefer to use Tang Zhong dough, use the dough recipe from my pineapple bun.
- Make the custard beforehand - spreading out the work will make the entire process a lot easier. You can make it up to two days ahead.
- Use an ice cream scoop or piping bag to place the custard in the center of the dough to prevent it from touching the edge. If the custard touches the edge, it will be very hard to pinch the dough together.
- Rolling the dough out wider and stretching the edge of the dough just before quickly pinching it together makes it easier to successfully form the bun and avoid any custard related mishaps.
- For the best results, I like to fill in as much custard as I can, but if you are new to making stuffed buns, try adding less custard first, otherwise you may have difficulty sealing the bun.
- Make sure to seal the dough tightly to prevent it from exploding.
This is not recommended, as the texture won't be as good.
The cake flour that goes into the custard can be replaced by all purpose flour, but I would highly recommend using it in the bun dough as the cake flour causes the bun to be softer and fluffier. If you really can't find it, you can replace it with all purpose flour or use all bread flour, but expect the bun to be a bit less fluffy.
If your dough doesn't seem to rise after an hour, it might be that your yeast is not fresh or the proofing temperature is too low.
You can use the dough recipe from my pineapple bun post.
If you are not eating within a day, place the buns in a Ziploc bag once they cool completely and freeze it for up to three months. Never store these in the fridge as they will dry up.
Let the bun thaw for 15 minutes or so before baking at 350°F (180°C) for about 5 minutes, and it will taste as good as fresh ones!
Don't Forget to Try
Baked Custard Bun (Cream Pan)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 70 g sugar, ⅓ cup (or more based on your taste)
- 15 g corn starch, 2 tbsp
- 20 g cake flour, 2 tbsp, can be replaced with all purpose flour.
- 300 g milk, 1¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 250 g bread flour, 2 cup
- 50 g cake flour, ⅓ cup
- 30 g sugar, 2 tablespoon
- 20 g condensed milk , 1 tbsp, can be replaced with honey
- 80 g cold water, ⅓ cup
- 80 g cold milk , ⅓ cup
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast, ideally saf instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 30 g unsalted butter, 2 tbsp, cut into 4 -6 small pieces
- In a heat-proof mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, corn starch and cake flour together until well combined.
- Heat milk in a sauce pan until it just begins to steam. Pour half into the egg mixture, whisking to combine before pouring in the rest and whisking it all together.
- Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the sauce pan, cook with medium low heat and whisk slowly and constantly.
- Once it starts to thicken (it starts to stick on the whisk), then whisk it quicker until it all thickens up.
- Remove the pan from the heat and continue to whisk vigorously for another 30 seconds, this will ensure that you end up with a smooth custard.
- Add vanilla extract and butter; stir to combine.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.
Making Bun Dough
- Add flour, sugar, condensed milk, milk, water, 25 g of the egg (about half of the egg, store the rest in the fridge for brushing) and yeast into the stand mixer and knead on low speed until the dough is formed.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes (Store it in the fridge if your room temperature is higher than 80°F). Meanwhile, bring the butter out from the fridge, cut it into 4-6 pieces and leave it on the counter to soften a little.
- When the dough is done resting, add salt and continue to knead for 30 seconds.
- Add butter cubes one piece at a time and knead until the dough is smooth and it passes the windowpane test. (This step takes me about 6-8 minutes, with 5-7 minutes on low speed and 1 minute on medium speed. The actual time it takes you depends on your mixer.)
- Form the dough into a ball (it will be very sticky, but if it's too sticky to handle, then add a little bread flour and knead for another 1~2 minutes) and put it in a lightly greased bowl. cover, and let it rise for 1 to 1.5 hours in a warm place (between 80°F to 90°F) until it doubles in size.
- Transfer the dough onto a working surface and cut it into 8 even pieces. Form each piece into a ball, cover with greased plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Assemble the Buns
- Roll the dough out to a 3"- 4" round, place 30- 40 g ( about 1 scoop / 2 tbsp) of custard in the center of the dough. Lift up two edges (3 and 9 o'clock directions), and quickly pinch them together, do the same thing at the 12 and 6 o'clock directions and then pinch everything else together tightly.
- If you would like to make a semi-circle shaped bun, roll the dough put to a oval that's similar to the size of your hand.
- Place the custard in the middle, lift up the top part of the dough, stretch and quickly (to prevent the custard from flowing to the edge) fold down before pinching the edge tightly. Make some decorative cuts at the edge if desired.
- Put the leftover custard in a piping bag or a zip lock bag for later use.
- Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, cover with greased plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it almost doubles in side (about an hour).
- In the last 10 minutes of proofing, preheat the oven to 375°F and brush the top of the buns with a thin layer of leftover egg mixture.
- Pipe the custard on the surface in a swirl pattern or, optionally, sprinkle some pearl sugar. You can do some decorative cuts on the edge of the semi-circle buns, but don't cut too deep so that the custard won't come out.
- When the temperature is reached, put the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. For the ones with custard on top, I would bake for 2 minutes longer with a convection bake function, if available, to achieve a golden brown color.
- Transfer the rolls onto a cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.