Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Super Soft Chewy Mocha Coffee Hot Cross Buns

Craving for hot cross buns lately?

Absolutely YES for us!

My hot cross buns baking season has already started even before Chinese New Year baking! Thus, I'm relieved now that my Chinese New Year baking season is officially over so that I can concentrate baking more hot cross buns...

Apart from the traditional hot cross buns with dried raisin or sultana, I have seen many variations of hot cross buns selling in supermarkets and bakeries these days. And I have been trying to bake my best mocha version. Guess what? It hasn’t been easy!

And this is the best Coffee Hot Cross Buns that I have baked so far...

super soft chewy mocha coffee chocolate chip hot cross buns
My Super Soft Fluffy and Chewy Mocha Hot Cross Buns

I realised. Baking bread with coffee is actually not as easy as adding strong coffee into any bread recipes.

My failure has thought me that coffee can actually improve the solubility of flour in liquid!

Coffee is acidic with a pH of 4.8 to 5. Mild acidic liquid can make flour more soluble than in neutral pH, dissolving the gluten into a wetter solution with no strength. For example, I have tried adding 10g instant coffee granules into my bread dough with 300g bread flour and my coffee bread had turned out to be rather flat, spongy with cake-like texture!

My first mocha hot cross buns
The hot crosses are made with coffee too but they look burnt and sad :(
Fail! Look here. There is no bread texture in this bread!
The gluten in the bread has been completely dissolved, losing its strength and elasticity.

My lessons learnt:

1) I can't add too much coffee into my coffee breads. Very Important!!!

2) I need to increase the strength of flour with higher gluten content. Immediately, the thought of using Soft Chewy High Gluten Condensed Milk Sandwich Bread recipe at here came into my mind and I have modified it to create a nicer coffee bread. I believe that the addition of gluten flour is essential to make the bread ultimately soft and chewy. If unavailable, you can substitute it with bread flour but please note that the bread won't be as fluffy and chewy as the ones that are made with gluten flour.

3) I can’t add coffee into my hot crosses mix! I tried adding a very tiny amount of coffee (2g) and the mixture turned out to be way too watery and looks burnt after baking.

I wonder... how do the supermarkets or bakeries make their coffee hot cross buns with nice coffee-caramel-coloured crosses? I suspect that there is no real coffee added into the crosses. Perhaps, they added caramel colouring or neutral-pH coffee flavouring into their crosses? I don't know.

4) I have to avoid bread recipe with egg because the acid from coffee will make egg firmer, resulting the bread to be raise well but drier.

5) Last but not least, I kept asking myself... Should I brush my buns with coffee syrup?

Yes because brushing the buns with coffee syrup will give them a beautiful glossy glow and additional bittersweet coffee fragrance and flavour.

No because the wet syrupy-top will weigh the bread down, making the bread dense and firm when they are completely cooled.

If you choose to brush the bread with syrup like what I did, please be aware that the hot cross buns are only nice when they are freshly baked or slightly warm. If your bread has been completely cooled or left unconsumed until the next day, you MUST warm it in a microwave for 20 sec. I promise they will be soft again... just like when they were freshly baked.

Coffee syrup or not?
It's YES for me because I like the buns to have a glossy finish and additional coffee flavours.
WARNING: Please consume the hot cross buns when they are freshly baked.
They are ultimately soft, fluffy and nice but only when they are warm.

I can be picky with every single thing. Thus, I wouldn't say that this is a perfect coffee hot cross buns recipe due to the cracks on the crosses and the buns couldn't stay nice and soft when they are completely cooled. Yet, I'm still sharing this recipe because these imperfect-looking coffee hot cross buns are actually perfectly delicious and I wouldn't mind baking them again and again.

Why the cracks? Watch my video and you'll see these super soft buns rise a lot, causing the crosses to crack
during baking. However, the buns will shrink slightly after cooling, especially after brushing of the coffee syrup.

Music: Bensound

I wish to discover more delicious coffee bread recipe in the future but as for now, this is the best that I have baked. And I hope that you will like it too.

Before I proceed to the recipe, I would like to say again... Your support means a lot to me! If you like my recipe and baking tips, please LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW my Facebook at here or here or my Instagram @zoebakeforhappykids or SUBCRIBE my YouTube channel at here. All your LIKE, SHARE, FOLLOW and SUBSCRIBE will tell me that I'm in the right track and will continue to bake and share more in the future. Thank you!!!

Here's the recipe.

Makes 9 buns in one 20 cm (8 inches) square pan

For the bread dough:
5g instant coffee granules (mine is decaffeinated)
15g (1 tbsp) boiling hot water
20g condensed milk, at room temperature
185g water, at warm temperature about 25°C
1 tsp vanilla paste
260g bread flour with 12% protein
15g milk powder - please do not use milk to replace water and milk powder.
25g caster sugar
2g salt
30g gluten flour - can be replaced by bread flour but please read the above baking tip
30g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp instant yeast

For shaping:
100g (1/2 cup) dark or milk chocolate chips - I used Callebaut dark chocolate callets with 54% cocoa

For the cross:
25g water
20g self-raising flour

For the coffee glaze:
25g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
5g instant coffee granules (mine is decaffeinated)
15g (1 tbsp) hot boiling water

extra butter or vegetable oil spray to grease baking pan
extra bread flour for dusting and shaping

For the bread dough:
Dissolve 5g coffee granules with 15g hot boiling water. Set aside to cool completely.

If you are using a breadmaker to knead and prove the dough, add coffee mixture and all ingredients into the breadmaker according to this order. Use "dough" setting to mix and knead dough for 30 mins or until the dough is elastic and stretchy. Then, let the dough prove for 1 hr or until doubled in size.

If you are using an electric mixer with an hook attachment or your hand to knead, combine coffee mixture and all ingredients except butter in the mixing bowl and mix at low speed until a soft dough forms. Then, knead in the butter until incorporated. Continue to knead for at least 25 mins or until the dough is elastic. It is important that the dough has to be elastic and stretchy. Cover the dough and allow the dough to prove in a warm and humid place for about 1 hr or until doubled in size.

Grease square pan with butter or vegetable oil spray. Using your lightly floured hands, divide dough and chocolate chips into 9 equal portions, about 65g each for the dough and 11g each for the chocolate chip. Pull, stretch and shape each portion of dough and chocolate chip until incorporated and each dough portion looks like a smooth ball. Arrange the dough in the greased pan. Allow the bread to rise in a warm and humid place for another 1 hr or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven 350°F or 180°C.

For the cross:
Mix water and flour until it forms a smooth and thick paste. Transfer into a piping bag if required and snip off the end to make a fine hole. Pipe a cross on top of each bread bun and bake for 15-17 mins or until golden brown and thoroughly baked inside and NOT over-baked. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool slightly to warm.

For the coffee glaze:
Before baking the bread, mix 25g sugar, 5g instant coffee granules and 15g hot boiling water until the sugar and coffee are mostly dissolved. Do not add more water if the sugar is not completely dissolved. Pour coffee mixture through a sieve and set aside to let the glaze to cool to room temperature.

Brush a layer of glaze on the warm buns but NOT on the crosses. And it's ok to apply just a layer of glaze without using all of it. Allow the buns to cool further if required. Serve warm, cold, or toasted with or without butter.

Store any leftover in an airtight container at room temperature when they are completely cooled. These buns are the best when they are warm and freshly baked. If you are consuming the buns when they are completely cooled or on the next day, you MUST warm the buns using a microwave with high power for 20 secs. I promise. The buns will be soft and moist just like they have been freshly baked!

Happy Easter Baking
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