Apple Custard Buns

Sunny Blevins
by Sunny Blevins
10 Buns
2 hr 45 min

I cannot believe it’s already October, seems like this year has just gone down the drain, so halloween may look different this year but it does not mean that we can’t have delicious treats to celebrate.

I know that pumpkin reigns supreme in this season, but I would like to draw your attention to the humble apple. Paired with cinnamon, it is certainly a delicious alternative to pumpkin baked goods.

These buns are made with the tang zhong method which yields soft bread that keeps better in the fridge. The filling is a cinnamon spiced custard with apples folded in. This is inspired by Japanese apple turnovers which also have apple custard fillings.

I use a mixture of whole meal and white bread flours so it’s healthier and used monk fruit sweetener in place of sugar for the custard but feel free to use white bread flour and sugar. The leaves are made with green coloured dough and stems with pocky sticks.

Please do let me know if you make this by tagging @dessertsforlunch on instagram :)

Recipe details
  • 10  Buns
  • Prep time: 150 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 2 hr 45 min
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  • 120 ml or ½ cup whole milk
  • 20g (1 oz) + 160 g (5.6 oz) whole wheat bread flour and 160 g (5.6 oz) white bread flour
  • 1 sachet (7g) or 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
  • 120 ml or ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 56 g or ¼ cup softened butter, unsalted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
Apple Custard
  • 50 g or 5.5 tbsp of all purpose flour
  • 80 g or 6 tbsp of sugar or to taste
  • 375 ml milk or 1.5 cups of milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten and strained (or 3 eggs, beaten)
  • 21 g unsalted butter or 2 tablespoon unsalted butter chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 medium sized apples or to taste (depends how much apples you want in your buns)
Combine 20 g of bread flour with the whole milk in a small saucepan and stir until there are no more lumps. Cook over medium heat, mixing constantly until it forms a thick paste, remove from heat
Transfer this paste into a bowl and add evaporated milk, stir to cool it down slightly. Mix in the egg.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix 320 g bread flour, yeast and sugar. Add the liquid mixture from step two and mix with a spatula and with your hands until no dry flour is left. Cover with a kitchen towel and rest for 20 minutes.
After resting, with the dough hook attached, turn the mixer on medium speed and knead the bread. Sprinkle the salt. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth. Stop and scrape the bowl as needed.
When the dough is smooth, add the butter a little at a time while the mixer is still running, keep kneading until all butter is absorbed and until enough gluten is developed. You can check by taking a small piece of dough and stretching it between your thumbs and fore fingers. It should be able to stretch to form a window pane, if it is not able to, keep kneading. Total kneading time is around 10-15 minutes.
After kneading, tip out the dough and form into a ball, place in a well greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let proof for 1 hour or until double in size.
Apple Custard
While the dough is proofing, make custard - combine the flour, sugar, milk, and salt in a medium-sized pan. Whisk until there are no lumps.
Heat over medium heat, stir with a spoon for around 4 minutes until bubbles start to pop up.
Reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Stir in beaten egg yolks gradually and cook over 20 to 30 seconds.
Remove from heat. Add the butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix well.
Peel and chop the apples, fold into the custard while its still warm. Let cool.
After proofing time is up, punch down on the dough to let the air out. Break apart approximately 1/8th-1/6th of the dough, put one or two drops of green food colouring (gel is preferred) and knead until desired colour is achieved. Set aside. These will be your leaves.
Putting it all together
Grease a 12 hole muffin tin
Divide the remaining dough into 10 roughly equal balls.
Roll a dough ball with a rolling pin to make a round flat shape
Place approximately 1 tablespoonful of apple custard in the middle of the dough
Close it up, making sure the top is sealed.
Very gently, roll the filled dough portion back into a ball, I do this by cupping my hand over the ball and rolling lightly in a circular motion on the bench top. Be careful to not use too much force or the filling might leak. Place the ball into one of the holes of the muffin tin.
Pinch and shape one of the green dough pieces into a leaf. Affix onto the bun.
Repeat for remaining doughs.
Cover lightly with a paper towel and let proof for another hour or until puffed up.
When the second proofing time is almost up, pre heat the oven to 180 C (350F)
Brush the buns with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
When the buns are cooled to room temperature, break off sections of chocolate pocky sticks and stick them in the buns to make the apple stems.
  • I have put the quantities in grams and as best as i could the American measurements however I strongly suggest using a scale and measuring it in grams and it is important to get the ratio right when making the buns.
  • Its very important to knead the dough until elastic and pass the window pane test.
Sunny Blevins
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