Recipe: Bak Kwa Buns


We had a neat pile of bak kwa (pork jerky) left over after my brother’s visit to Singapore. I am not a big fan of bak kwa in general, but felt that it would be wasted if they eventually go bad and have to be thrown away. Hence this recipe. This is a simple bread recipe using the “tangzhong” method. Slather with some butter and eat it for breakfast, or match it with some cheese for a more savory treat. I chose to shape them into pull apart buns as it was easier for us to just tear off and eat. You can also make it into one big loaf, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

For the “tangzhong”

30g bread flour
150ml water

  1. In a non-stick pan, heat the flour and water mixture on low heat. Stir thoroughly to ensure the paste is smooth and slightly thicker than gravy consistency. Leave aside to cool. You can prepare this the night before and keep it in the refrigerator. Put cling wrap over the paste so that a ‘skin’ doesn’t form on top of it.

For the buns

340g bread flour
120g tangzhong
5g instant yeast
1 large egg (56g)
125ml milk
30g butter, softened

  1. In a stand mixer, add egg, milk and tangzhong. Add in bread flour and instant yeast. With the stand mixer on dough hook, mix at medium speed until a sticky dough is formed, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the butter and continue to mix at high speed until the dough is smooth and no long sticks to the side of the bowl. (To test if the dough is ready, take a small ball of dough and try to stretch as far as you can between 3 fingers. It should be elastic enough to form a thin and translucent membrane of dough.)
  3. Coat the dough with some flavorless oil (I used canola) and cover with cling wrap or a moist cloth. Proof dough for about 45 minutes or until it is twice the size. If you push a finger into the dough, it should stay depressed and not bounce back.
  4. Flatten the ball of dough gently and cut into 6 equal pieces (weigh if necessary). Let it rest for 15 minutes before rolling into desired shape. Coat pan with some softened butter to prevent the dough from sticking. Place the balls of buns in the pan and cover with cling wrap. Proof the dough for another 40 minutes, or until it is 80% larger.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oven at 180C. After the second proofing, brush the buns with a layer of eggwash. Bake the buns for 45 minutes. To test if the bread is ready, stick a (oven grade) thermometer into the bun, it should be 100C.


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