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BLACK SESAME ROLLS

with yuanyang coffee-tea glaze

These rolls combine three of my favorite things -- soft Hokkaido milk bread, sweet, earthy black sesame, and comforting, rich yuanyang. Yuanyang is a hot or cold drink made from three parts coffee and seven parts Hong Kong milk tea. I love that it gets its name from Mandarin ducks, the symbol of lifelong love and a nickname for a pair of unlike things. Here, I used an exceptional instant yuanyang mix from Season with Spice (http://seasonwithspice.com) to flavor the glaze for these sweet rolls.

what you'll need

6 tbsp water + 2 tbsp bread flour 1/2 cup whole milk 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 2 3/4 cups (350g) bread flour scant 1 tsp salt 1/4 cup sugar 1 egg 2 tbsp butter 1 cup toasted black sesame seeds 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey (or more to taste) 2 tbsp Season with Spice yuanyang mix 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1 tbsp melted butter 1-2 tbsp milk

1.

Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, whisk together 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over low heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens to a gel-like consistency. As soon as lines appear in the pan, remove from heat and transfer to a small, clean bowl. Let cool. (For more pictures, refer to my Steller story on Hokkaido milk bread.)

2.

Next, heat the milk briefly to just above room temperature, about 110° F or lukewarm to the touch. I do this simply by microwaving it for 10-15 seconds.

Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.

3.

In the meantime, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.

Wait for your milk and yeast to look like this. Foam means the yeast is happy & ready to go.

When the yeast is ready, add the tangzhong and egg into the yeast mixture, then whisk to combine.

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough.

4.

Switch to using your hands and knead for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough forms a semi-smooth ball. The dough should be sticky and moist -- sprinkle flour over your hands and the dough as needed to keep kneading, but try to avoid overflouring. One tablespoon should be enough.

5.

Add the butter to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of butter only after the first has been evenly incorporated.

The kneading will be slippery and messy at this point, but just keep kneading (actually, it’s oddly satisfying) and it should eventually form a soft and pliable dough that’s easy to work with. Knead for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

6.

Place the dough in a large bowl (greased, if you prefer, though it doesn't really matter) with plenty of room and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours in a warm, draft-free area, or until well-doubled. Alternatively, let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. I prefer the latter -- it gives extra time for the gluten to develop, and yields a better flavor, in my opinion. Plus, dividing the labor over two days makes the process much more manageable. The dough should be fine for up to 24 hours.

7.

While the dough is proofing, make the black sesame filling. Toast the black sesame seeds by heating them in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the seeds pop and smell fragrant. Next, grind the seeds using a food processor or a mortar and pestle. The seeds will first form a coarse powder, then begin to form a paste as the oil releases. I had to scrape the sides of the food processor down 4 or 5 times before it reached that point. When the seeds form a moist paste, add the honey and grind again until the mixture turns smooth and glossy.

Once the dough is doubled, turn it out and roll it into a large rectangle. I rolled mine about 11x14 inches, but it doesn't have to be exact. Spread an even layer of filling over the dough, as thick as you’d like, leaving a border around the edges.

Starting with the long edge, roll the dough into tight log. Pinch the seam closed and turn the log so that the seam-side is down. Using a serrated knife or dental floss, cut the log into 8 to 10 equal pieces. Line a 10-inch cast-iron pan or 8x8 inch baking dish with parchment paper, then place the rolls in the pan, cut-side down.

If you run out of room, you can bake the extra rolls free-form on a baking sheet or in individual porcelain ramekins.

Let the rolls rise a second time in the pan until nearly doubled, another hour or so.

8.

About halfway through the proofing, preheat your oven to 350° F. When the rolls are proofed, bake for about 20 minutes, or until just golden in some parts.

9.

To make the glaze, sift together the yuanyang powder and confectioner's sugar. Add the melted butter and 1 tbsp of milk, and whisk until blended. If the glaze is too thick to pour, add more milk, a few teaspoons at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.

Pour over the rolls while they're still warm.

And enjoy.

For the full recipe, visit http://tworedbowls.com.

Thank you so much for reading!

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