Ube Brioche Buns (Kneaded By Hand) With Butter/Cheese
2.75 cups all-purpose flour [330 g]
1/2 cup whole milk [120 mL]
3 tbsp sugar [38 g]
1 tsp salt [6 g]
1 tablespoon instant yeast (1 full envelope) [7 g]
3 large eggs, cold from fridge [150 g without shell]
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature [142 g]
1 cup ube halaya [240 mL]
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature [43 g]
1 tsp ube extract [5 mL]
1/4 tsp salt [1.5 g]
1 egg [50 g without shell]
2 tsp of whole milk [10 mL]
4 tbsp butter, room temperature [57 g]
4 tbsp powdered sugar [30 g]
2 cups grated edam or gouda cheese (queso de bola) [250 g]
Heat 1/2 cup of milk in a small pan till it reaches a minimum 180 F (80 C). This deactivates the whey proteins in the milk, which may hinder gluten development.
Pour hot milk into a large metal mixing bowl, put this mixing bowl over an ice bath, and whisk till it comes down to 110 - 115 F (40 - 45 C). When it reaches 115 F (or lower), add in 1 tbsp (1 full envelope) of instant yeast). Whisk the yeast to dissolve into the milk. We are whisking in the yeast as it is difficult to fully dissolve the yeast into the dough if we are kneading by hand without a stand mixer.
When yeast has fully dissolved into milk, add in 3 large eggs, and whisk them in. Then add in 2.75 cups of all-purpose flour, and mix in the flour by hand just till you get a cohesive dough (i.e. just until there's no dry flour visible). Cover this with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This lets the gluten structure to get fully hydrated before we knead it - again this is only necessary if you are kneading by hand.
After 30 minutes, turn the dough onto a clean surface, and add in 3 tbsp of granulated sugar, and 1 tsp of salt. Fold this into the dough with your hands. We waited till now to add sugar and salt because both sugar and salt can hinder gluten development.
Then add 10 tbsp of room temperature unsalted butter. Fold the butter into the dough and press it in by hand. Then using a hand-blending technique called "fraisage", where you press the dough out and away from you with the palm of your hand. This is how to blend the ingredients without the strong mechanical force of a stand mixer. Then scrape the dough into the middle, and repeat. Continuing to do this fully incorporates butter, salt and sugar into the dough evenly into the dough mixture. Do this fraisage technique for about 15 minutes. You'll notice after a while when you scrape the dough into the center, it will be more elastic, as gluten is forming.
Once it starts to have that elastic texture (after 15 minutes of "fraisage" or this kind of massaging technique), finish off kneading using a "slam and fold technique". Slam dough with some force onto the surface, fold it from the back (close to you) to go away from you, and do a quarter turn, and repeat. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes. This finishes off the development of the gluten structure. Keep doing this until it passes the "windowpane test" - take a little dough square and stretch it till you see it being transparent but still stretchy and elastic.
Oil a clean bowl. Form the dough into a ball (it should be very soft), put it in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Then refrigerate the dough overnight - approximately 12 to 16 hours. This will slow the fermentation and chill the butter, making the dough easier to shape.
(can be made the same day as dough, and left overnight also)
In a double boiler on medium heat, add in 1 cup of ube halaya, 3 tbsp of butter, 1 tsp of ube extract, and 1/4 tsp of salt. If using reconstituted ube powder to make 1 cup of ube paste, add 1 tbsp granulated sugar (since ube powder does not have sugar). If using 1 cup of ube halaya from a jar, no need to add sugar.
Mix this together over the heat until the butter melts and you have the consistency of a spreadable paste - about 5-10 minutes.
Remove this from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Can be made the day before also, and stored in the fridge, let come to room temperature the next day. If you're preparing this right before forming buns, you can cool it faster by putting in an ice bath and stirring till cool.
Generously butter 12 egg tart moulds or brioche moulds. The top diameter of the moulds should be around 3.5 to 4 inches. These ones we're using are 3.8 inches top diameter.
The dough should have doubled in size from when you put it in the fridge. Turn the dough onto a clean surface. The dough should be quite greasy from all the butter, and shouldn't stick too badly onto the counter. If you find it is sticking too much, just put some oil on a paper towel and lightly grease the counter. Divide the chilled dough into 12 equal pieces. I just use my hands and eyes to approximate the same weight and size of balls.
Depending on how much you pinched pieces and transferred dough from ball to ball to make them as even as possible, your balls might be uneven. So, take each ball, and lightly press down on the ball with the palm of your hand while doing a round motion. Like shaping play-dough as kids. This tightens and smoothens the skin of the dough. Do this with all 12 balls.
Put some oil on a paper towel and lightly grease your rolling pin. First use your hands to lightly press the dough into a flatter shape. Then roll out each piece into an oblong or rounded rectangle, about 5" by 8". Spoon a heaping 1 tbsp of the ube filling onto the center, and then spread it into a thin layer in the middle of the dough, but not too close to the edges.
Tightly roll the dough back over the filling from the long 8-inch end to the other long 8-inch end, forming a log that is approximately 8 inches long (the log may stretch and contract as you roll it, since the dough is elastic). Once the log is formed, continue to roll the log back and forth with your palms to further elongate it to about 9-10 inches long, and create tapered ends. Then twist the log to form a spiral bun, tucking the end underneath. Place the coiled bun into a buttered egg tart mold. Repeat this with all 12 portions of dough.
With the 12 buns arranged next to each other in the moulds on a sheet pan, loosely cover the buns with plastic wrap, and let them rise for 3 hours, until it's doubled and looks very puffy.
Add 4 tbsp room temperature butter and 4 tbsp powdered sugar into a bowl.
With a small spoon, mix them together till it forms a smooth, creamy consistency.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the egg wash by whisking together 1 egg with 2 tsp of whole milk. Lightly brush the top of each bun with egg wash.
Place the moulds onto a baking sheet for easy handling. Bake buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed up and brown. If you have a thermometer, buns are done when they read 185 - 190 degrees F (85 - 88 C) in the middle of each bun. When the inside goes past 200 degrees F (93 C), the ensaymada will start becoming a little dry.
Once out of the oven, let them cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then transfer them from the moulds onto a cooling rack.
After cooling on the racks for an additional 20 minutes - using a spoon or bread knife, smear the top of each bun with a very light layer of the prepared sugar-butter topping. Finally, top with a heaping 2 tbsp of grated edam or gouda cheese. Eat fresh and enjoy!
If not finishing them in one day, refrigerate in an airtight container - it reheats well in the oven or microwave.