My mother had told me of a roux method that Chinese bakeries probably used which allows for their breads to stay soft longer without the use of preservatives a while back. I believe this was from when I was in junior high trying to making sausage buns for the next morning's breakfast which turned out to be flour bricks encasing a hot dog. It was so bad that my parents tossed it out, instead of stomaching the mess I made like all my other failed projects. I had forgotten about this until just last year when I made cinnamon buns where the bread was both dense and dry.
I search up on this roux method, and found many Chinese recipes using it. But using this roux method of cooking flour and water, called 65c tangzhong, felt like an extra step that I was unwilling to take. After putting it off for a while, my curiosity of this method got better of me and so I had to try it. Although I didn't end up making traditional Chinese bakery styled breads, I used it to see whether my cinnamon buns could be improved. And the results were amazing. If I have the time, I would use the tangzhong method of making these rolls most of the time in the future unless I get lazy.
TangZhong (Do What I Like)
50g bread flour
In a sauce pan whisk flour and water together. Cook over low to low-medium heat until the mixture thickens. It should seem like a thick paste like glue mixture. Remove from heat and transfer the tangzhong to a separate bowl. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the hot tangzhong so that the roux doesn't form a skin while you wait for it to get to room temperature.
Left overs can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Bread (adapted from My Kitchen Snippets and Do What I Like)
2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
105 ml milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter
Mix the flour, salt and 2 tbsp of the sugar together in a bowl. In a separate container heat the milk in the microwave for about 20 seconds for it to be warm. If the milk gets too hot let it cool down a bit so it doesn't kill the yeast. Stir in the left over sugar and the yeast, let it sit and poof for 10-15 mins. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour the poofed yeast and milk along with the butter. Add the tang zhong too. Using a spatula incorporate the liquids with the flour until it's tacky enough to handle with your hands. Knead for 10 mins. This spatula/kneading process can be substituted with the use of a stand mixer with the hook attachment. I kneaded the dough until it was kind easy to stretch without breaking. Make the dough into a ball, brush with oil and over with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 hr, until doubled in size.
(my usual concoction which I always use unless I lack brown sugar or unsalted butter)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (somewhat packed)
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tbsp of cinnamon
raisins (soaked in hot boiling water and optional)
toasted pecans (optional)
Microwave butter until half melted with a soft butter lump in the middle. Using a spatula mix until the butter is of the same consistency, add the sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add more cinnamon to your liking or leave it as it is. The raisins should be drained of its water. Raisins and pecans will be sprinkled onto the dough later.
After the dough has risen, using your fingers, poke holes into the dough to let it deflate. Take the dough and simply stretching the dough in to a rectangle. the dough should have an even thickness of 3/8" but it really depends on the ratio of bread to cinnamon mixture you prefer. I found the dough easy to work with so I didn't require a rolling pin, but if you enjoy using the rolling pin and find a need for it... go ahead and use it.
Spread the cinnamon mixture onto the dough and sprinkle the raisins and pecans on top if desired. Gently press them in. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and pinch the seam closed. Using tooth floss (it cuts the dough better than a knife does), slide it under the roll and cut off the ends for "perfect" looking rolls but it is unnecessary. Then cut the log into 9 equal 1" pieces and place onto 9x9" square dish that has been greased. Allow it to rise a second time for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 350'F. Bake for 15-20 mins until the tops are slightly browned. Bake the ends too in a separate dish (if it was cut off earlier). Tastes the best straight from the oven. Hot and delicious! Great the next day too, as the bread in was still soft (at least for the big ones I ate, I'm not sure about the miniature sized ones).
Ta da!! The ones I made had extra cinnamon in them because of my cinnamon lunacy, so I apologize to the few people I gave some away to... =)