Updated: Jun 7
Hua Juan is an extremely popular street food snack that originates from China. This flour shaped milk bread is usually eaten for breakfast and what makes Hua Juan interesting is its limitless combinations of sweet, savoury versions. For this recipe I wanted to make a slightly sweet version using matcha, sesame, honey and a sneaky smother of butter for extra richness. These variation of milk buns are super simple yet delicious when eaten straight from the steamer. Let's get straight into it!
Cook Time: 15 mins
Prep Time 30 mins
Total prove Time 2 hrs
To make 6 buns
Matcha Milk Dough:
8-10g matcha powder
300g soy milk
500g plain flour
25g white sugar
7g dry active yeast
8g baking powder
extra flour for dusting
15g black sesame seeds
20g white sugar
40g unsalted butter
Matcha Milk Dough:
Let's start by making up the matcha milk dough, start by briefly heating 300g of soy milk up to 36°c then to the warm milk add 7g of active dried yeast and 25g of sugar to assist the yeast. Mix well until the yeast is completely dissolved and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Next, in a large mixing bowl add 500g of plain flour, 8-10g of food matcha powder and 8g of baking powder. Mix the flour well then form a well in the middle.
2. Now add all of the soy milk and yeast mixture into the well then mix with a spatula until the flour becomes more manageable to work with by hand (You can also use a kitchen aid if you prefer). When more manageable begin to kneed the dough together for 8-10 minutes until 1 cohesive ball of dough is formed. When ready briefly knead the dough for 5 minutes until slightly smooth then cover the dough with clingfilm or a damp cloth. Allow the dough to prove at this point for 1hr in a humid area.
3. Whilst we wait for the dough to prove we can move onto making a nice and simple sesame filling for the buns. Place 40g of unsalted butter into a small bowl and allow to soften. Next, toast 15g of black sesame seeds in a pan for 1-2 minutes. Now add the sesame seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind until roughly broken down, add 20g of white sugar to the sesame, mix well and set this to one side for now. We will use each component to spread onto the dough when rolled.
4. After 1 hour of proving the dough should be much more relaxed and easier to roll. Briefly knead the dough again for 5 minutes then roll into a smooth ball. Cut the dough into two equal pieces then flatten each piece flat with your palm to form a flat disk. Dividing the dough into two is optional, I simply did this as I don't have a large enough space to work with. When flat, begin to roll out the dough until it forms a large flat rectangular sheet approx 1cm in thickness. If needed feel free to dust the sheet with flour if sticking.
5. To the sheet of dough we now want to add the toppings. Start by adding an even thin layer of softened butter then when spread add a thin layer of honey. Next coat generously over the top with the sugar and sesame mix.
6. We now want to overlap and fold the dough 3 times to create a layered smaller sheet. Visually eyeball then roll the sheet over 1/2 of the dough then finish by folding evenly again to encapsulate the filling inside of the dough. When ready cut the into 6 even pieces widthways.
7. Now to make the dough slightly more interesting, place two of the cut pieces of dough on top of each other. When aligned, place a chopstick into the centre of the two pieces then press down do make an indentation in the dough. Next take each end of the two pieces and carefully stretch out the dough slightly. Bring the two corners of dough together to make a u then place a chopstick through the centre of the u. To finish the fold hold the bottom of the dough pieces firmly together then twist the chopstick 180° to form an interesting flower fold. This sounds intently difficult reading, however, it's really pretty simple and refer to the images below or check out the video recipe for how to do it. When the dough is twisted push down slightly onto the worktop and gently pull out the chopstick. Repeat this process for each double sheet of dough and for the other unrolled sheet.
8. When all of the dough is shaped place each piece onto a small square of greaseproof paper and spread out evenly into a steamer. Add some hot water to the bottom of the steamer and cover the top with a damp cloth. Allow the buns to prove 1 last time for 1 hour.
9. After a final prove of 1 hour the buns are now ready to steam. Remove the buns from the steamer and place the steamer base onto a high heat. When boiling add the buns and place a lid over the top of the steamer. Steam for 15-17 minutes size depending. When cooked remove the lid and allow the steamed buns to slightly cool before removing.
10. To serve, I like to eat Hua Juan with a warm cup of soya milk, however, a sweet sesame dipping sauce or even just on there own is also perfect. Enjoy making Hua Juan and I believe the variations are endless!
As for the other variations then a savoury spring onion version is the classic, simply remove the matcha powder and as for a filling then roughly slice spring onions and cut them with some sesame oil and a touch of hot oil. For additional sweet fillings then sweet red bean or even a form of chocolate would also work perfectly. Have fun with this recipe and peace as always!