If you have previously read my blog you know I tend to create a title that is a little sarcastic, punny (not puny as in “small”, but punny and in “with puns”) and snarky. This time, I admit my ignorance. For fear of insulting a people and culture I of which I have little knowledge, I simply titled this one as Japanese Cream Pans.
Another more snarky point: I tried one of these pastries courtesy of my son’s mother in law’s cousin, or my cousin-in-law once removed. (I made that up. I find it annoying to have to describe a full family tree to delineate the connection of two people related via someone’s marriage.)
Anyway, these pastries are light, soft and delicious. I found a recipe online and followed it with two exceptions and one caution learned after making them. See below.
You can make the tangzhong and cream filling as much as 3 days in advance. Both will stay in the refrigerator that long if covered. Tangzhong is a water roux used to lighten the texture and provides the more tender crumb these pastries require.
Cream Pan Dough:
- 2 1/2 c. bread flour
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 4 T. sugar
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. tangzhong
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1/3 c. bread flour
- 1 c. water
Japanese custard cream:
- 1 3/4 c. milk
- 4 T. unsalted butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 5 T. flour
- 2 T. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, or seeds scraped out of 1 vanilla bean pod)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with 2-3 T. water
- Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, gently heat the bread flour + water, while slowly whisking. When the mixture thickens, and swirl lines appear – remove from heat and cool. You will only end up using half of this mixture – store the other half in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 3 days.
- Make the cream pan dough. Add the tangzhong, butter, sugar, salt, and egg beaten with the milk to a mixer bowl. On top of those ingredients, add the bread flour. Make a depression in the center of the bread flour, and add the yeast. Turn the mixer fitted with adough hook to low until a basic dough is formed. The increase speed to medium to knead for 8 minutes, then allow the dough to rise (covered) for 1 hour in a warm place. Punch down, and allow to rise another 30 minutes.) While the dough is rising, make the custard cream.
- HERE IS ONE OF THE CHANGES: I use the Martha Stewart method of making cream patisserie. Put all the ingredients into a large sauce pan and heat with constant stirring until the mixture begins to set (looks like loose scrambled eggs), strain the mixture and add the vanilla. Much easier that tempering the eggs etc.
- The original recipe follows here:
- Scald the milk and butter in a large pyrex measuring cup by microwaving for 2-3 minutes.
- Beat the egg yolk with a whisk, and add the flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar. Whisk together to form a thick paste.
- Add about 1/3 of the warm milk mixture to the paste, and whisk constantly. (This step tempers the egg, and loosens up the paste so that you can add the remaining warm milk.) Add the second 1/3 of the warm milk, and whisk until combined. Then add the last 1/3 of the warm milk, and whisk until combined.
- Strain the egg mixture into a saucepan. (This will catch any lumps, and any bits of egg that may have “scrambled”.)
- Add the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, or scraped vanilla bean guts), then slowly heat the saucepan over medium low heat (whisking constantly). When the mixture thickens so that swirl lines appear, remove from heat and continue whisking another 30 seconds.
- Refrigerate the custard cream until cold and thick in a covered container for several hours.
- Dust a work surface liberally with flour. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Using a cookie scoop, portion out 16 balls of chilled custard cream. (I usually set the custard portions on top a sheet of Reynold’s non-stick foil.)
- I WAS NOT HAPPY WITH BAKING THE CREAM. Skip this and inject the cream after the pastry has cooled. Be gentle with the dough, don’t over deflate. This will keep it lighter and less bread-like.
- The original instructions follow here.
- Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand and place in a small custard cup. Use a small spoon to put a portion of chilled custard into the depression.
- Pinch the edges upwards to seal and place seam side down on a silicone lined cookie sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30-60 minutes. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, and bake at 335 degrees for 15 minutes. Use a dilute egg wash. I increased the water from 1 Tablespoon to 3.
- Remove from oven and cool thoroughly.
- Inject cooled creampat. You should feel the pastry become heavy. That is enough filling.
- Refrigerate to store.