Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun

My kiddo loves the "Ah Bian" aka Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun from Bread Talk very much, so this bread has been on my to-bake list for a long time. Just that I have been busy baking cakes for orders and obsessing over k-dramas :p.

Finally got down to baking it! Many of my blogger friends (Passionate about Baking, Peng's Kitchen, AtKokken) have already tried it, and there are also many recipes available on the internet; I'm indeed a slow coach :p.

Since this is a last minute decision, decided to use the 65°C Tang zhong (湯種) method (instead of water roux/yukone method which requires the starter dough to be pre-cooked and chilled for at least 1 day); have tried this Tang Zhong method before and the bread texture was not bad.

I made 2 batches (separately) because for the first batch I didn't dare to fill too much cream cheese filling and the proportion didn't turn out well, too much bread, too little filling. Taste-wise still ok, but not satisfying, so I had to make a second batch.

There are 4 parts to making this bread - (1) Tang Zhong (2) Cream cheese Filling (3) Cranberry (4) Bread dough - kneading, wrapping, proofing and baking. Several points to take note for each part which I will share.

First I started with the Tang Zhong because I needed to let it cool to room temperature before use. Basically 500g of water to 100g of bread flour, stir till well-mixed and cook over low heat until 65°C. I have a thermometer which helps a lot, otherwise cook till lines appear and the tang zhong looks like slightly thickened glue (not too thick else the bread will turn out too dry). Take off heat, cover with clingwrap and let it cool down. The tang zhong will yield more than enough to make at least 4 batches of bread; unused portions can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days or till it turns greyish. Avoid cutting down the proportion coz if cooked using lesser water, the water loss through evaporation might result in dryer tang zhong and affects the overall bread texture.

Next I prepared the cream cheese filling. Pretty straightforward, just blend cream cheese with icing sugar and milk till smooth. Transfer to a piping bag with round nozzle (actually can do without nozzle) and chill it. It's important to chill the filling so that it's easier to wrap later on.

Don't forget the dried cranberries. Rinse and soak them in water for at least 15 mins, then drain and squeeze dry.

The dough part. 3 sets of ingredients required. (A) Dry ingredients - bread flour, cake flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and dry yeast. (B) Wet ingredients - Tang Zhong, water and egg. (C) Unsalted butter.

Mix all the dry and wet ingredients together and knead till gluten forms. I use my trusty KW mixer with dough hook. Then add slightly softened unsalted butter and knead till dough leaves the sides and bottom of mixer bowl. Finally, add the cranberries and knead for 1 min more. Shape the dough into a ball and place inside a slightly oiled large bowl, cover with clingwrap and proof for 40 mins/double in size.

I got about 600g of dough and divided them into 35g each (yield is 17 pieces of bread). Shape each piece into a ball, cover with clingwrap and then them rest for 10 mins.

The wrapping part. Take a piece of dough, flatten using rolling pin (if too sticky, dust with a bit of bread flour), pipe a generous dollop of cream cheese in the centre of the dough. Wrap and pitch tight to close the dough, make sure no cream cheese is leaking. Finally use the palm to flatten the dough (not too hard else the cream cheese will leak).

Final proofing. Use dark-coloured baking trays if possible so that the bread could be browned sufficiently during baking. I use my oven trays. Place a silpat mat or baking parchment on the baking tray and place the buns on top. Try to space them at least 2 cm apart as the buns will expand. I was too greedy here so my bread didn't turn out perfect with smooth round edges.

Place another silpat mat or baking parchment over the buns, and finally cover with another dark-coloured tray. Let the buns proof for about 40 mins. And finally bake them (yes with the buns sandwiched between the trays) at 210 degree celsius (top and bottom heat) for 12 mins.

Tadah! As a result of being too greedy and squeezing everything in just one tray, the bread didn't turn out perfect with smooth edges, they were joined at the sides.

Nonetheless, they were still ok to eat, just not too pretty to look at. Next time next time. Anyways, both hubby and kiddo gave thumbs up! The bread texture was still soft the next day.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bun
(dough recipe from 65°C汤种面包 by Yvonne C. Cream cheese filling adapted from various internet sources.)


(A) Tangzhong

  • 100g bread flour
  • 500g water
  1. In a heavy bottom pot, combine bread flour with water until well-mixed.
  2. Heat the mixture over low fire, stirring continuously.
  3. Cook the mixture till 65°C (mixture will become thicker and gluey and visible lines will appear).
  4. Remove pot from heat, cover the top of the tangzhong mixture with clingwrap (to prevent drying out) and let the mixture cool completely before use.
 (B) Cream Cheese Filling
  • 250g cream cheese (I use 1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese), slighty softened
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 25g fresh milk
  1. Blend the cream cheese with icing sugar and fresh milk till smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a piping bag and chill in fridge till ready to use.
(C) Cranberries
  • 60g dried cranberries
  1. Rinse and soak the dried cranberries in water for 15 mins.
  2. Drain and squeeze dry. Set aside.
 (D) Dough
  • 210g bread flour
  • 56 cake flour
  • 20g milk powder
  • 42 caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6g instant dry yeast
  • 84g tangzhong
  • 85g water
  • 30g whole egg
  • 22g unsalted butter
  1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a mixer bread. Avoid putting the yeast together with the salt.
  2. Add the wet ingredients (except butter) to the dry ingredients. Start mixing the ingredients on low speed using the dough hook.
  3. Once ingredients are combined, increase mixer speed to medium high.
  4. Once gluten forms, add the butter.
  5. Knead the dough at medium high speed until dough is elastic and smooth. Dough will leave the sides and bottom of bowl. To test if dough is ready, take a small piece of dough, stretch outwards into a rectangle. Dough will be elastic and translucent. When the dough breaks, the hole will be jagged.
  6. Add the cranberries and knead for 1 min.
  7. Tuck the dough neatly into a ball and place the dough into a large well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and leave to proof at room temperature for 40  mins or till dough doubles in size (in Singapore, room temperature is about 28 to 30 degree celsius with 70-80% humidity).
  8. To check if dough is proofed, coat forefinger with flour and stick into middle of dough and remove, if the hole remains, the dough is sufficiently proofed.
  9. Cut and weigh dough into desired sizes and tuck each dough into a ball (Dough weight is about 600g. I made 17 buns about 35g each). Let dough rest for 10 mins.
  10. Flatten each dough using a rolling pin (dust with a little bit of bread flour if needed, not too much), pipe a generous dollop of cream cheese in the centre of the dough. Wrap and pitch the dough to close, make sure cream cheese filling is well-covered. Gently flatten bun with palm.
  11. Place a silpat mat or baking parchment on top of a dark-coloured baking tray. Place the buns on top of the mat about 2cm apart from each other. Cover the buns with another silpat mat or baking parchment, then finally place another dark-coloured baking tray on top. Let proof for 40 mins.
  12. Preheat oven at 210 degree celsius (top and bottom heat).
  13. Bake the buns (as sandwiched between baking trays during proofing) for 12 mins at 210 degree celsius.
  14. Once baked, remove the trays from the oven and cool the buns on a wire rack.
  15. Once cooled, the buns should be kept in air-tight container to prevent drying.

Kukup, Malaysia - June 2014

Back during the June school holidays, we went on a 2D1N short vacation to Kukup (Johor Bahru, Malaysia) with our University hall friends whom we have known each other for more than 15 years already. It was a boisterous trip for 8 families of 16 adults and 13 kiddos and we had great fun eating and playing non-stop.

We booked our chalet through this website which offers several choices; we selected the Luxury Suite Resort that has 7 bedrooms, enough to house all of us. For those who have not been to Kukup, it's used to be a fishing village with a dominant chinese community and now sort of a getaway destination popular among locals and Singaporeans. There are bungalows, chalets and dormitories specially built for short-stays and usually packages including transport, lodging, 6 meals and visit to kelong are offered. We opted to drive in and there's a large car park for us to park safely (chargeable).

Inside the chalets, there are usually communal space for chatting, karaoke room, mahjong and game sets. And the highlight for many visitors is setting off your very own fireworks and kong ming lanterns (extra charges applicable). I believe Kukup is the only place in JB that allows fireworks (or rather the authorities chose to close an eye, thank goodness!).

Forgot to take a photo of our resort, this is the upper deck which has 7 bedrooms. Below the deck is where the owner stays, along with the kitchen and more bedrooms. Since our group was big, we had the luxury of owning the entire upper deck.

Seating area for us to hang around.
Area where we had our meals, 5 of the meals were served here and the last meal (lunch) was served at a nearby seafood restaurant.

Open space at the back of our resort. This is where we played with fireworks and set off the kong ming lanterns.

View from our resort.

View from our resort.

The living cum karaoke room. It's been a long time since we sang karaoke and everyone had a hilarious time crooning to the favourite melodies of our time.

7 bedroom of different sizes. Some rooms can sleep 3.

Some can sleep 4.

This is the biggest, which can sleep 7. It became the kids' playroom.

Rooms are furnished simply but very clean.

Toilets/shower rooms are very clean as well.

And so, there's this list that states the additional things that we can order and buy :)

Food is definitely in abundance here, literally non-stop and our tummies were filled to the brim all the time!

Day 1 Lunch - curry chicken and potato.

Day 1 Lunch - fried prawns.

Day 1 Lunch - fried otah spring roll.

Day 1 Lunch - sweet and sour fish.

Day 1 lunch - stir fried la-la (clams).

Day 1 lunch - fried egg with prawns. Not in picture - stir fried kailan.

Day 1 lunch - pineapple.

Our ammunition! Haha.

And barely 2hrs after lunch, we were served our tea-break. Although we were still quite full, totally couldn't resist them!

Day 1 tea-break - deep-fried prawn cake/cracker. I loved this so much! It's crispy and fragrant and tasted so good with the homemade chilli sauce. Really want to try making this at home, but forgot to ask for recipe :(

Day 1 tea-break - deep fried tau kwa.

Day 1 tea-break - green bean soup with sweet potato. Very yummy!

After tea, we headed for a short kelong excursion.

At the kelong. The kelong operators showed us a few species of fish. Nothing much, but at least it's an eye-opener for urban kids.

After that we went back to resort for more karaoke till dinner time. Dinner was BBQ food like fish, chicken wings, satay etc. Didn't take any photos.

After dinner was the highlight of the trip. We set off our ammunition with the help of the resort operators.

I guess this was the closest we could get to experience fireworks right in front of us. A rare experience for the kids as well. In fact, so many people were setting off fireworks that it was non-stop show for 2-3 hours in the night. We also set off kong ming lanterns.

Couldn't remember what was for supper, I think was fried beehoon :p

Day 2 breakfast - curry puff.

Day 2 breakfast - nasi lemak with chicken wings.

Day 2 breakfast - banana cake.

Day 2 breakfast - soon kueh.

Day 2 breakfast - fried noodles.

After breakfast, we just chill-out and relaxed till check-out time.

For lunch, we were brought to a seafood restaurant nearby.

Day 2 lunch - stir fried sambal kangkong.

Day 2 lunch - thai-style fried chicken.

Day 2 lunch - deep fried fish.

Day 2 lunch - egg tofu

Day 2 lunch - cereal prawn.

Day 2 lunch - fried butter and cream crab

We ordered an extra dish of deep fried baby squid (extra charge) coz I was craving for it :p

All in all, it was a fun and enjoyable getaway with lots of food and activities; great bonding time for friends and families!