One of my favorite snacks growing up was hot dog buns from Chinese bakeries. That might sound a little strange -- what's so good about a plain bun? Ah, but a "hot dog bun" in a Chinese bakery isn't just a long, cushiony hammock for a sausage, as you might buy in packs of 8 from a grocery store. No, these come with the hot dogs in them, neatly wrapped inside a soft, sweet bread. They're really handy as snacks or a quick meal on the go.
I recently read a couple of posts where people have made their own Chinese bakery-style hot dog buns, and being that it's now warmer and I love working with dough, I had to try it out for myself. I wasn't sure how my first results would turn out, so I lazily did not capture a lot of the in-process dough formation on camera, but next time I definitely will. I tried out two shapes, one that required a bit of braiding, and another in which you looped the dough around the hot dog. For the latter, I find that the shape comes out better when the loops aren't rolled super thin, so that they touch each other even before the rise (a tip for myself for next time). In this batch, I used some shredded cheese in the braided version -- next time I'll use more cheese, as you can barely tell it's there.
The recipe for this dough isn't quite as sweet as what I'm used to getting in Chinese bakeries, so I'll play with the amount of sugar next time. I don't like to adjust first-time recipes too much.
Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Buns (recipe adapted from here)
- 300g bread flour
- 1 package active dry yeast (about 7.4g)
- 10g sugar
- 6g salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten and divided
- 170g milk, at about 90°F (egg + milk should equal about 220g)
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 8 hot dogs
- sesame seeds
- In a stand mixer bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add in 1 of the lightly beaten eggs and the milk, stirring until it starts to come together. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer.
- Using the dough hook attachment, knead on medium-low speed (#4 on my KitchenAid) for 5 minutes. Add the softened butter and knead another 3 minutes or until the butter has been completely and thoroughly absorbed into the dough. The dough should feel smooth, satiny, and not sticky. If it's sticky, add more flour in tablespoon increments until you reach the right texture. The dough should pass the windowpane test (you can stretch it out very thinly without it breaking). Knead until it does.
- Spray a good size bowl with cooking spray. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and form into a ball, pulling the sides down so that it becomes taut. Place the ball of dough in the greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise in a warm area for about 90 minutes, until about doubled in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces, about 72g each (deflating the dough is fine).
- To form the braided rolls, roll out one of the pieces into a rectangle, with the longer side about the length of your hot dogs. Slash both sides of the rectangle into about 7 strips, without actually cutting through to the other side. Spread shredded cheese down the center if you wish, then place the hot dog on top. To seal, fold the strips down in an alternating pattern. (See detailed instructions here.)
To form the poofy rolls, roll out one of the dough pieces between your hands until it's about 2 to 2 1/2 times the length of the hot dog. If you want the center to be bigger than the ends, make sure you roll your dough accordingly, so that the middle of your long piece of dough is bulkier than the ends. Wrap the length of dough around a hot dog; it should be enough to make 3 loops, with the tapered ends at the bottom of the hot dog. (See detailed instructions here.)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the shaped buns on the paper, leaving enough room in between each for the dough to have a place to go while it's rising.
- Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap or a clean cloth (you don't want to ruin the rise by having to peel anything off them). Let the dough rise again for another 90 minutes or so, until it's about doubled in volume and look nicely plump.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.
- When the buns have risen, gently brush egg wash (the remaining egg) generously onto each, making sure to get the sides as well, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top, if desired.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 5-8 minutes, until the buns are an attractive golden brown.