One item I never noticed as a kid was the ham and cheese bun in the Chinese bakery case, whether I was in Chinatown or, more commonly, an Asian grocery shop in a nondescript New Jersey strip mall.
Ham and cheese buns just never agreed with me. The white cheese had a curiously rubbery appearance, and the pink ham looked like it had come straight out of a can.
To make a long tale short, I almost never order a ham and cheese bun at a Chinese bakery, preferring the healthier coconut bun, pineapple bun, or red bean bun instead.
Okay, as of today, that’ll no longer be the case. Since we now have a reliable recipe for milk bread, I intend to improve upon the government cheese/canned ham version of this Chinese bakery favorite.
If you ask me, the best way to enjoy these buns is stuffed with your favorite deli ham and the best melting cheese you can find. You should do that; it will be a good decision. The dozen I made last weekend were all gone in less than a day.
What’s even better is. Buns stuffed with ham and cheese can be eaten at any time of day or night. Just like the lowly pizza bagel, these can be enjoyed at any time of day. You can have them for dinner. When stuffed inside a milk bread bun, ham and cheese are a convenient, anytime meal.
How well do you think I executed that reference? Not confident that I did. Relax, you guys get me.
- 250 ml of milk
- 12 slices of ham
- 12 slices of cheese
- 1 large egg
- 3 1/2 cups of bread flour
- 2/3 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of cake flour
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- Egg wash
- Use a stand mixer set with the paddle attachment to blend the milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt. Start the mixer on “stir” with the dough hook attached. Don’t touch the dough for 15 minutes, except to stop the machine and knead it briefly at intervals. Add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, if the dough is too sticky to work with, especially if you live in a humid region. If you don’t have a mixer and want to knead by hand, add 5-10 minutes to the total kneading time.
- The dough needs to be mixed for 15 minutes before it can go into the proving phase. Warm the bowl and cover it with a moist cloth for an hour. My oven served as a proofing chamber for the dough (I had the oven on a rapid-proof for 5 minutes, turned the oven off, and then closed the oven door). The dough can double in size after being left to rise.
- When the initial proving time of an hour has passed, return the dough to the mixer and beat for an additional 5 minutes to eliminate any remaining air pockets. Put the dough on a surface that has been lightly dusted with flour and divide it into 12 pieces.
- Put ham and cheese on each oval or rectangle of dough. Combine the ingredients, roll into a log, and slice three 1/2-inch-deep slits into the top of each bun. The process of making the buns must be repeated until they are all finished. Let it ferment for an additional hour under a moist, clean towel.
- Set the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F. Bake the raised buns for 20–24 minutes until brown, and then brush them with sugar water for a glossy finish and more sweetness and color.