Corner Café

April 20, 2012

Overnight Soft Bun Dough (16-hour poolish version) 16小時冷藏液種麵糰

Filed under: Basics,Breads & Quick Breads — SeaDragon @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,
Update April 20, 2012: Australia has won the Asian Pastry Cup 2012 held overnight in Singapore, with Malaysia coming in second and Singapore third. All 3 teams, plus first time entry and fourth place the New Zealand team, are now eligible to compete in Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie (World Pastry Cup) next year in January to be held in Lyon, France, together with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea who are automatic entries from Asia. Congratulations to all teams.

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After making numerous sweet and savoury buns using my favourite Japanese-style water-roux bun dough the past few years, I guessed it was about time I tried something new.
I got hold of a new Chinese bread-making cookbook recently, 麵包教室:5°C冰種的美味 (literally translated as Bread Baking Tutorials: The Flavours of 5°C Pre-Ferments), by two Taiwanese pâtissiers/bakers 許正忠 & 柯文正, which utilizes the age-old European techniques of overnight pre-ferments, biga and poolish, to produce mostly Asian-style breads and buns, as well as some traditional European breads. To some lesser degrees, the same technique has also been featured in another recent cookbook from Malaysia, Baking Code by Alex Goh. I don’t have Alex Goh’s cookbook, but from browsing through online recipes shared by bloggers, I gathered that his book has similar recipes.
I decided to try out the poolish version first. The poolish has to be made the night before and chilled at 5°C for about 16 hours in the refrigerator. The next day, after the 16 hours, the poolish should be bubbly and can now be used to make the buns. This method also produces soft buns that stay soft for at least a couple of days at room temperature. So to me both versions are equally good, as direct comparison is difficult due to different ratio of ingredients (for example very little milk powder in this recipe compared to the larger amount of milk powder used in the water-roux version which made that recipe very milky in aroma and flavour) used in the two recipes. The only thing is to make this poolish version, you just need to plan ahead, while the water-roux version can be made on the spur of the moment.

For this first try of my poolish buns, I was inspired by this short video (above) I came across recently showing two types of breads being made in a baking class, plain rolls and pumpkin bread loaves. The plain rolls were shaped like croissants, but not bending them. I loved the look of those plain rolls and naturally I had to make them, and how deliciously looking they turned out to be, yeah!

overnight_poolish_buns22

Makes approx. 12 to 16 buns, depending on size

[Ingredients]
Overnight Poolish:
150g bread flour
150g lukewarm water
0.5g (1/8 teaspoon) instant yeast

Main Dough:
250g bread flour
100g cake flour (or plain flour if desired)
15g milk powder
50g caster sugar
6g (1 1/4 teaspoons) salt
5g (1 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
75g (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
50g butter, cut into small cubes
http://cornercafe.wordpress.com/
[Preparation]
1. For the poolish, mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl together until incorporated (pic #1). Cover with cling film and let it prove for about 1 hour in a warm place (pic #2), then place into the refrigerator to chill (preferably at 5°C but not strictly, a couple of degrees off is still fine) for at least 16 hours (pic #3); it should be bubbly at this stage. Let poolish return to room temperature, about half an hour, before using.

overnight_poolish_buns01-03

2. Sift bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, caster sugar and instant dry yeast onto the working surface and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well and add lightly beaten egg, room-temperature poolish and salt, then gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (You can do the kneading in a breadmaker if you own one.) If you are kneading by hand, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)
3. Finally knead in the room-temperature butter, a cube at a time, until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane – “window pane test”, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading because the dough does not heat up as much as when using machine. I usually stop kneading when the dough stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise in a warm place (preferably at about 26°C – 28°C) until at least double or nearly triple in size in a large greased bowl, covered with cling film (should take about 1 hour in optimum warm tempearture, longer in winter months). To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
4. Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 12 or 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into thirds (for 12 portions) or quarters (for 16 portions) each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Shape and fill the buns according to recipe. Place all finished buns on a greased baking sheet, lightly cover with cling film, and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months).
6. Brush with eggwash if the recipe calls for it and bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Soft Plain Rolls 冷藏液種餐包
To shape plain rolls (for 12 portions):
1. Follow preparations as above up to step 4. Roll each dough ball into carrot shape of about 15cm long (pic #4). Roll out using a rolling pin to about 30cm length (pic #5), then roll up from the wider end like shaping a croissant (pic #6).

overnight_poolish_buns04-07

2. Place the shaped rolls (pic #7) evenly apart, sealed ends down, on a greased or lined 30cm × 25cm slice tin or baking tray (pic #8), lightly cover with cling film, and let rise in a warm place until double in size (pic #9). Brush with eggwash (using one lightly beaten egg) and bake in preheated 180°C oven for about 22 minutes, or until golden brown (pic #10).

overnight_poolish_buns08-10

Taste: Flavourful, soft and fluffy soft buns
Consume: Served warm or at room temperature
Storage: May be kept in a container at room temperature in cool weather for 2 to 3 days, or up to a week in airtight container in the refrigerator & re-heat before serving
Recipe Reference(s): 16-hour poolish recipe from the Chinese cookbook ‘麵包教室:5°C冰種的美味’ by 許正忠 & 柯文正

70 Comments »

  1. sd

    fantastically well done.

    Comment by lily ng — April 20, 2012 @ 4:33 am | Reply

  2. These look so good! ^^ I love how they stick close together when you bake them too! I might just have to try a variation on this some time.

    Comment by AikoVenus — May 6, 2012 @ 1:40 pm | Reply

    • Yes, they looked good sticking together like bakery ones, don’t they :)

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 12, 2012 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  3. Hi Sea Dragon, thank you so much for the recipes. I’ve been making simple Western rolls all my life and then came across your blog and made the water roux buns two days ago and my roommates devoured them in one sitting. They came out better than I expected. I am in the middle of the 16 hour poolish recipe and boy… this really tests ones patience but I am so excited to see how they turn out. I keep rereading the recipe over and over making sure i got it down packed.

    You are very kind for sharing and for being so detailed. Would love to get into your boxes of recipes if I ever get a chance one day!

    Comment by Lisa Tran — May 13, 2012 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  4. this is so fantastic!!!

    Comment by frances — May 14, 2012 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  5. Hi!!! I am so ever grateful I found your site. Your soft cotton sponge cake is a beloved recipe of mine.
    Got to try this new method over the weekend. Thanks again!!!
    Grateful “baker”.

    Comment by Norse — May 18, 2012 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  6. Hi SeaDragon,

    I already have a copy of the water roux bread book, but this 5 degrees bread book seems cool too, haha, do you recommend this book? The reason why I’m hesitant is that I previously bought a chinese dian xin (flaky pastries) book by one of the same authors 許正忠, & was disappointed to find that his recipes lacked details and also did not include recipes on how to make the fillings used in his recipes, he would just specify under the ingredients list ‘pineapple filling’ or ‘貴妃酥 filling’ etc. Does the 5 degrees bread book provide recipes for the fillings used? Will await your reply before purchasing, haha, addicted to buying baking books.

    Comment by Chi — July 14, 2012 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

    • Haha, I know what you mean by recipes lacking details. I guess this book is more of recipes by 柯文正. I think 許正忠 is acting more as advisary capacity, so yes there are recipes for the fillings at the beginning of the book. It depends on what you are after, a lot of the recipes in this book are similar to the 65 degrees book, just using the overnight pre-ferments instead of the water-roux. Also for the European-style breads, most recipes used some sort of bread improvers (改良劑) which mean those recipes are useless as I can’t get the improvers (not sure which type)! The only good point is there are small line diagrams showing the shaping of breads, especially for the European breads. HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 16, 2012 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  7. Hi, thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Your bread looks so soft and fluffy. Can I omit the milk powder if I don’t have any on hand?

    Comment by Veronica — August 2, 2012 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  8. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will try this out this weekend. I’ve been searching for a good soft sweet buns for a long time. I will let you know how mine turned out. Thanks again.

    Comment by EJadePearl — August 8, 2012 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  9. Hi Sea Dragon I just baked this bread today. I loved it! It is now my favorite sweet bread recipe. It turned out perfectly. It is pillowy soft, fluffy, moist and not very sweet. I filled the buns with cold butter cubes and garnulated sugar before baking. After baking, i smothered the top with melted butter. Then when it cooled off, I spread whipped butter with sugar…and topped it with sharp cheddar cheese. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    Comment by EJadePearl — August 12, 2012 @ 6:41 am | Reply

    • Glad to hear it worked out successfully for you, cheers :)

      Comment by SeaDragon — August 12, 2012 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Sea Dragon, I just discovered your website while searching for pillow soft bread recipe. I baked this bread over the weekend. Wow, my family & I just could not imagine bread could turn out so … soft & fluffy & we enjoyed it very much. My dad recons to eat with chinese sweet dried meat (york gone) would be heaven :)
    Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Leah — August 27, 2012 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  11. [...] Overnight Soft Bun Dough (16-hour poolish version) 16小時冷藏液&#31278…Apr 20, 2012 … The next day, after the 16 hours, the poolish should be bubbly and can now be used to make the buns. This method also produces soft buns … [...]

    Pingback by Buns soft | Lentablog — August 31, 2012 @ 2:31 am | Reply

  12. Hello, So happy to have found your blog again.
    Will this recipe work with wholemeal flour?

    Comment by clarice — September 1, 2012 @ 7:40 am | Reply

    • Yes, it should work with wholemeal flour, just use your usual wholemeal recipe and adjust it with the addition of the poolish.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 1, 2012 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  13. Greeting SD<,Thanks for your effort and willingness to share your recipe…I love your bun recipe! BTW, do you think if i use only bread flour and not a mixture of flours as stated in your recipe, it will make my bun not so soft ? Tks for your inputs. Rgs, sl

    Comment by Susan — September 5, 2012 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

    • You are welcome! If you use all bread flour, I think the result will be chewier but as I have not tried myself, it is only a guess.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 6, 2012 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  14. Hi SeaDragon, is liquid usually measured by ml instead of g? Do you 150 ml of lukewarm water?

    Comment by Phuong — September 27, 2012 @ 11:26 am | Reply

    • The liquid can be measured by either weight or volume, measuring by weight is always more accurate. For water, its weight is equal to its volume, so yes, 150g water = 150ml water. However it is only water which you can do this interchange, other liquids will differ slightly in their weights and volumes.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 27, 2012 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  15. SeaDragon, thanks for the explanation and thanks for sharing the recipe. I am a beginner at bread making. I will try this recipe.

    Comment by Phuong — September 27, 2012 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  16. SeaDragon: You are very generous to share this great recipe. I tried it and was very successful. My family members love the buns. I also like how you give credits to the other authors. Your step by step explanation is very detail and easy to follow. The photos are also extremely clear! Thank you.

    Comment by zkitchen — October 27, 2012 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

    • You are welcome :)

      Comment by SeaDragon — October 28, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Reply

      • I have baked rolls for 50 years but am new to poolish. Any words of wisdom to watch out for particularly? Is the result the same if using a bread machine to knead? Can this be used for sweet rolls too?

        Comment by Carol — December 18, 2012 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

        • Haha, sounds like you are much much more experienced than me. I’m just a hobby baker and have just tried this method once. It is quite easy actually, I had success the first time, maybe I was lucky. Nothing particularly to watch out for, just treat the poolish as any other pre-ferments, and the basic is knowing how yeast works and I’m sure you would be very experienced with that kind of knowledge having baked for so many years.
          Yes, you can use bread machine to knead, I don’t own a bread machine, so always doing it manually.
          As for sweet rolls, I don’t see why not, although I haven’t tried it myself.

          Comment by SeaDragon — December 18, 2012 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  17. Hi SeaDragon, I am a little confused. When do you incorporate the poolish mix? Is it after the main dough mix has been made?

    Comment by ggsim — December 18, 2012 @ 11:40 am | Reply

    • Oops I am so sorry, I can’t read properly :p

      Comment by ggsim — December 18, 2012 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  18. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    Have you checked out Ribhard Bertinet’s slap and fold method? His bread recipes are appoximately 70% hydration. With this method I can hand knead 5kg of dough at a time and still achieved proper gluten development before the bulk ferment. Please check it out when you have time.

    Love your recipes ^_^

    Comment by Lai — December 28, 2012 @ 6:03 am | Reply

  19. [...] Back on the bun. This dough is a hard one to handle. Very very sticky, arggghhh… So so tempted to add more flour. On a second add, i stop, don’t care if it ended as hatd as rock. But surprisingly, it didn’t. The bread is as soft as using water roux or scalded flour method although i only knead it for 15 minutes. You can read the recipe and a little bit of history of this method at corner cafe. [...]

    Pingback by Sweet Bun (16 Hours Prefermented Method) | Jeany Weekend Cooking — January 14, 2013 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  20. They look exactly like the Polish or Czech buns; very similar recipe. But they fill them with fruit, or apple butter, but also leave them plain. Not sure if the origin of the word is from French – apparently the Poles brought the technique of “poolish” starter to France (wikipedia???) In the USA – Czech kolache are often made in a similar way..

    http://www.machacekbakery.com/kolaches__sweet_rolls

    Comment by Sophie — February 2, 2013 @ 12:40 am | Reply

  21. Hi SD, just wonder how do u achieve 5 celsius for the polish? I mean do u put on top of the freezer ( which I think not possible ) or just put in the fridge? I do not think the fridge temperature is up to 5 Celsius. Thank you

    Comment by May Chen — April 14, 2013 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

    • I have already said a couple of degrees off is fine. But you should be able to adjust the temperature in the fridge if you really want it spot on at 5 degrees.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 14, 2013 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

      • Sure, thanks for the quick reply. I used to use the water roux to make breads. Hopefully with this method the quality will be even better!

        Comment by May Chen — April 14, 2013 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  22. […] La receta está adaptada de otro de mis libros en mandarín Taller de pan: el sabor de los prefermentos a 5 C, escrito por dos maestros panaderos taiwaneses, que recordé que tenía cuando lo vi aquí. […]

    Pingback by Panecillos suaves con poolish | WiKiEmpresa — July 16, 2013 @ 1:59 am | Reply

  23. HI SD, what is the reason we use cake flour instead using all gluten bread flour? will cake flour make the bread softer?

    Comment by Sarah — August 2, 2013 @ 11:06 am | Reply

    • Yes, the cake flour helps to make the texture softer. If you use all bread flour, the bread will be chewier, now if you like that, you can use all bread flour.

      Comment by SeaDragon — August 4, 2013 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

  24. I’m between crossroads here, I’m wondering which bread recipe I should try from your websites. Which is your fav, this bread recipe, the sweet bun (scalded-flour version), the sweet bun (water-roux version)

    Comment by Joey — August 24, 2013 @ 11:38 pm | Reply

    • My fav is the water-roux version. However if you are new to bread making, I would recommend the scalded flour version first.

      Comment by SeaDragon — August 28, 2013 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  25. Hey SD! I’d just like to know how long can the poolish be kept? Btw, can I make the dough of the buns and keep it in the fridge then only bake them when I want to or do I have to bake them all at once?

    Comment by Jaime — August 27, 2013 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

    • I wouldn’t keep the poolish for more than a couple of days as it will become too sour. As for keeping, I would bake them all at once and freeze any that you cannot finish eating rather than keeping the dough itself, as the dough will keep proving and overproof if kept too long.

      Comment by SeaDragon — August 28, 2013 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

      • Hey again, I’d just like to ask what are the effects of overproofing. Sorry, I’m just a very curious person.

        Comment by Jaime — August 28, 2013 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  26. Today I tried this recipe and the result is lovely. However I have to say the recipe from Alex Goh is a lot better…

    Comment by San Lim — September 23, 2013 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  27. Hi SD, I much Overnight Poolish do I have to add into the main dough as your main dough does not mentioned how much to add? R

    Comment by R — September 27, 2013 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

    • Add the full amount of polish as indicated in the recipe.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 27, 2013 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

  28. Hi. I just made a batch of these fluffy buns. It was a success! Thank you very much! :)

    Comment by Rayrina — November 17, 2013 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  29. Hi! I was just wondering if this could be made into a loaf. My Pullman pan is small- around 9 x 4 x 4. Should I halve the recipe or quarter it? I was thinking quarter… Do you know how I can convert this into loaf?

    Comment by Lok Yi — December 28, 2013 @ 1:27 am | Reply

    • Hmm, I have never used a Pullman pan, so not sure how much dough to put into one, but a rough guess maybe halve the recipe, or even using 2/3 amount of this recipe. One thing you can do to make sure is calculate the weight of the dough of the recipe you usually used to bake in your Pullman pan (just add up the weight of all the ingredients in that recipe). Then you should be able to re-calculate the amount you need for this recipe.

      Comment by SeaDragon — December 28, 2013 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

      • Thanks… I’ll report back how it goes!

        Comment by siulokyi9 — December 29, 2013 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  30. Hi! Can I just use normal plain flour instead of bread flour??

    Comment by Becks — February 13, 2014 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  31. Hello ! May I know is the crust of your bread soft ? I have tried baking but the outside of my bread turns hard after cooling. I am not sure what went wrong. Could it be the temperature of my oven ? Thanks.

    Comment by Cris — March 13, 2014 @ 3:37 am | Reply

    • When you said hard, you mean very crusty like European bread? It shouldn’t be crusty, it is the soft crust like those you buy from Asian bakeries. Did you follow the recipe?

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 13, 2014 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  32. May I know which method produces a softer bread ? And can I use instant dry yeast for the poolish method ?

    Comment by Cris — March 13, 2014 @ 7:36 am | Reply

    • All my bread recipes in my blog are soft bread. Did you actually read the recipe? This recipe used instant dry yeast!

      Comment by SeaDragon — March 13, 2014 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  33. I have made this in the past and veganized it and they turned out fantastic. Now, I am thinking of subbing the water with pineapple juice to make king’s hawaiian bread and maybe a bit more sugar. Do you think that will work? Should I add more yeast since sugar takes water from yeast and reduces yeast activity. What are your thoughts? Thank you so much!!!

    Comment by jennifer — May 24, 2014 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

    • Hmm, I’m not too sure. Are you going to use pineapple juice to sub. water for the poolish as well? I don’t know if the acidity of the pineapple juice will affect the poolish or not? You can always experiment and see. What I suggest is do the straight sub. first without changing ingredient quantity, so you have a point of reference for later. If you change too many things all at once, and if something doesn’t work, you have no idea where the mistake lies. Good luck!

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 24, 2014 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

      • I was thinking of keeping the water as is for the poolish and just sub water for pineapple juice for the rest of the recipe
        Hope it works. ; )

        Comment by jennifer — May 27, 2014 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  34. From your experience, which do you feel produces the softest bread? The 16 hour preferment or Tangzhong? My concern is which will still be soft on the second day. I have made both, but my bread is usually gone by the end of the first day. But I want to make some ahead of time and pass them out. What are your thoughts? :)

    Comment by jennifer — May 30, 2014 @ 4:33 am | Reply

    • I think the tangzhong method is just that little bit softer. I assume when you mean ahead of time, it is just one day? If so it is up to you, both methods should be OK and soft the next day.

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 30, 2014 @ 4:56 am | Reply

  35. Thanks so much for your quick response!!! :) I have to veganize all baked goods as one of my daughters has severe dairy allergies. And in the process of taking out all fat from dairy, I think the softness of the bread compromises on the second day. Or in my case the end of the first day sometimes. But as soon as they are reheated, they taste just as good. Oh, and by the way, the Hawaiian bread turned out WELL!! :) I have a couple pics I can show you if I can find your email. :)

    Comment by jennifer — May 30, 2014 @ 5:03 am | Reply

    • Good to hear the Hawaiian Bread turned out well. I don’t give out my email on my blog or open forums, there are just too many trolls out there who have nothing better to do but send spams/emails which I just don’t have time to just wasting time deleting. Just have a look at the spams I received just on this blog, it is mind-boggling, LOL

      Comment by SeaDragon — May 30, 2014 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  36. May I know what is the purpose of having so much cake flour?

    Comment by TW — August 7, 2014 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  37. This is very good and fragrant. Better than the tang zhong method I tried before. I love the fact that little yeast was used. And I am using cake yeast instead of the instant one suggested on your blog. Keep it up. And I am going to try your sponge cake recipe next. I love blogger like you who put in good tried and tested recipe. Thank you!

    Comment by LV — August 25, 2014 @ 5:48 am | Reply


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