This post has been refreshed to reflect new learnings.
When I was younger, afternoon tea was pretty much a daily routine. Mummy would drive out (practically every place in Kuala Terengganu was only a 5 minutes’ drive away) and buy cakes or snacks for our afternoon tea, such as banana fritters, traditional Malay kuih, and occasionally, freshly baked roti paung. A favorite place for us to buy roti paung was a stall at a specific Shell station on the road towards Chendering from Batu Burok. I can’t remember the exact address now.
Nowadays I very rarely return to my hometown, and sadly, I never see roti paung anywhere here. So, I decided to try making my own. I’ve experimented with several recipes, and finally came up with my own version here. Soft and fluffy, I finally get to savor a taste of home. Enjoy!
Although this may not be in keeping with tradition, you can make variations of this roti paung by using different fillings other than butter. I’ve used Kiri cream cheese squares (each cut into 4 equal sized cubes) which turned out lovely, and my best combination so far was Kiri cream cheese plus an equal amount of Lotus Biscoff biscuit spread, which is my nod to Llaollao’s delicious frozen yoghurt and their amazing caramelized biscuit sauce. Keep experimenting with your own favorite fillings!
In the course of my experiments, I’ve learned quite a lot about bread making. One thing is for sure though: bread making is a freakin’ science. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:
- Don’t kill or stunt your yeast.
- You technically don’t need to bloom instant yeast, unless you want to check whether it’s still alive. Your yeast brings life to your loaf, so it’s super important to provide it with the best environment to thrive.
- When adding ingredients to your bowl, be sure that the yeast does not come into contact with the salt.
- I noticed that too much sugar also stunts my yeast, so nowadays I would add the sugar into my liquid ingredients before adding it to my dry ingredients.
- When making sweeter breads it’s also good to use SAF Gold instant yeast, which is designed specifically for high-sugar loaves and will counteract the potential stunting properties of sugar.
- There is a specific flour-to-liquids ratio.
- When trying to make our own bread, we’re often faced with the problem of dough turning out too dry or too sticky. Apparently there is one specific rule to solve this problem once and for all. When experimenting with ingredients, simply ensure the weight ratio of your flour (flour, milk powder, non-dairy creamer) to your liquid ingredients (water, milk, cream, egg) is at least 5:3, or 60% hydration.
- When looking at recipes online, especially from non-tropical areas, I usually end up reducing the liquid by 5% to 10%. Malaysian weather is humid and I usually end up with wetter dough when following the recipe as written.
- More advanced bakers may pursue a higher hydration dough (higher % of liquid), but the dough will be sticky and harder to handle.
- Another general rule is you only need 1 teaspoon of yeast for every pound (454 grams) of flour used, and the amount of salt needed should be 2% of your flour’s weight. Science, I tell you!
- Your breadmaker or mixer is your friend.
- Here’s a confession: I used to be a breadmaking snob. For some reason, I used to believe that the best bread dough must be kneaded by hand. Using the electric mixer was acceptable and saves me a lot of time, but somehow I still held the belief that my hand-kneaded dough had better texture. Today I used the dough program on my breadmaker and got perfect, beautiful bread dough with zero fuss and a lot less cleanup required.
- For bigger batches I use my stand mixer. There’s always a risk of overkneading when using a mixer, so I’d start at the lowest speed until the dough comes together, then increase the speed a notch for about 4 to 6 minutes, then stop and pull at the dough. If it stretches (ideally so that it stretches thin enough to be transclucent without tearing – this is called the windowpane test) then the dough is ready. Else keep kneading at 30-second or 1-minute increments then repeating the test.
- Some might say duh to me for stating what appears to be obvious, but hey, sometimes one needs to see something for oneself in order to be convinced. I definitely trust my machines for any bread dough-making activity.
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 250 ml full cream milk
- 100 grams unsalted butter OR margarine
- 100 grams castor sugar
- A few drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
- 500 grams bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- Salted butter for dotting and glazing OR more margarine
In your stand mixer bowl, add the egg, milk, and sugar, and whisk to combine.
Add the melted butter and yellow food coloring, if using. Make sure the melted butter is not hot, or it will kill the yeast.
Add the bread flour, yeast and salt, and mix using the dough hook attachment of your electric mixer, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 11 to 12 minutes.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place, until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When I used my Kenwood BM450 breadmaker, and the Dough cycle took 1 1/2 hours.
After the dough has risen, punch down to let out the air. Grease a 12-inch round baking tin with olive oil or butter.
Divide the dough into 19 equal sized pieces (between 52 to 53 grams each) for larger rolls, or 31 (about 32 grams each) if you prefer them smaller.
Working with one piece at a time, flatten the dough on the palm of your hand, and dot with a small piece of salted butter. Wrap the dough around the butter and seal, rolling the dough into the shape of a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Arrange the rolls in the baking tin. For 19 rolls, starting with 1 in the middle, 6 around the center, and 12 around the outside, making sure to space them out to allow for further rising. For 31 rolls, start with 1 in the middle, 6 around the center, 12 around it, and 8 on the outer layer. Cover the baking tin tightly with cling wrap or kitchen towels, and let rest in a warm place, another 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees fan). Place the rack on the bottom rung of the oven.
When the oven is ready, glaze the rolls with melted butter.
Bake in the oven until rolls are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
When the rolls are ready, glaze them one more time with melted butter.