I came across this old blog post by Jane the other night and I remember how popular these potato buns were in Malaysia. When they were in the oven, a distinctive aroma filled the store and once they were out, people started to huddle around the bakery with their supermarket trolleys. Steamed filled the bags whilst the staff packed and handed them out. It was tempting not to eat them then and there.
Back then, my grandma was a big fan of these fluffy, soft textured buns and we were tasked with buying a dozen pack if we went down to the supermarket. We didn't even buy them when we went back last year, but I felt like making some since the cross on top makes them look like hot cross buns. But, I didn't quite like how the cross came out so I will just make and pipe some real custard on next time.
I read how adding mashed potato in bread dough can make it too moist, so I changed the method a little. Instead of boiling/steaming the potato, I nuked it resulting in a drier texture. Perhaps adding 10g of custard powder into the bread dough also helped absorb some liquid? To nuke potatoes, use a fork and poke multiple holes on both sides. Nuke on both sides for 1 minute (1000W) and 30 seconds more thereafter until it is soft enough to cut through with a fork. Allow to cool before peeling and leave the potatoes in small chunks as it will be fully incorporated when it is kneaded in. Whilst nuking, the potato will make funny sounds, but don't worry (too much) about it exploding.
potato buns approx. 1.2kg dough; makes 30 small buns
adapted from Vivian Pang's Kitchen
I don't know why they are called 'potato buns' when potato doesn't even make up the majority of the ingredients. Maybe it is because when they are shaped, they resemble little washed baby potatoes?
70g caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
4 tsp dry yeast
1 large egg + enough milk to make up 300ml
10g custard powder (optional - if adding dissolve in some milk first)
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
80g cooked potato (see above for instructions)
60g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
50g custard powder
15g bread flour
10g milk powder
Place above ingredients into the bread machine bowl according to manufacturer instructions. Set to 'dough function'.
When dough is ready, lightly dust the bench with bread flour and divide dough into 3 equal strands. Gently stretch them out and further divide into 30 x 40g dough pieces. Shape them into small balls and transfer to a lined baking tray. Cover and leave to prove until dough doubles in size*.
Meanwhile make the custard mixture for the cross. Mix custard powder, bread flour and milk powder with enough water to form a pipe-able paste that is not too runny. If you accidentally added too much water, add in some bread flour. Transfer to a piping bag with a small tip.
When dough is ready, brush tops with beaten egg and pipe the cross pattern on top. Bake at 175 degrees for 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
*It was quite chilly when I made them so I proved them in an oven heated at around 30 degrees for 1 hour. Every 20 minutes I brush the tops of the dough with beaten egg.