Tangzhong, also known as water roux, is more commonly used for Asian breads. It makes these chelsea buns much lighter and fluffier than usual.
Prep time: 20 mins (dough), plus rising (about 3 hours) and shaping (10 mins)
Bake time: 20 mins
For the tangzhong:
25g strong white flour
For the dough:
125g whole milk, warmed
40g unsalted butter, melted
60g caster sugar
1 large egg
350g strong white flour
7g fast-action/instant yeast
For the filling:
2 tsp cardamom (from pods, and ground to a fine powder in spice grinder or mortar and pestle. You can use pre-ground cardamom but the flavour won’t be as strong)
140g shelled pistachio nuts, ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
80g unsalted butter, melted
For the rose water sweet glaze:
80g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp rose water
1 egg for brushing on top before baking
Edible rose petals
Edible eyes (optional)
First make the tangzhong. Using a whisk, mix the flour and water in a saucepan. Switch to a spatula and continue to stir over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency and reached 65C/150F. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm (touching the surface of the tangzhong) and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a microwave to warm the milk for the dough, then to melt the butter.
Put the milk, butter, sugar, salt, egg and tangzhong in a large bowl. Whisk together.
Add the flour and yeast. If using a mixer, knead for 10 minutes with the dough hook attachment on a low speed. If working by hand, use a spoon to combine everything into a shaggy ball, turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth – it will still be a little tacky, but that is normal. Don’t add extra flour.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise until two-three times its original size (this will take about 1-2 hours).
Prepare the filling. Mix the cardamom with 100g pistachios and the caster sugar. Warm the butter until soft and spreadable.
When the dough has risen, roll it out into a long rectangle (with the longest side facing you) on a lightly floured surface. Brush the surface with the butter, then sprinkle over the pistachio mixture. Roll up (from the longest side) into a tight scroll. Slice into 12 pieces using a sharp knife. Arrange on a baking tray (slightly separated, as they will spread and connect).
Leave to rise for an hour or so until about doubled in size. About 15 minutes before they are ready to bake, heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/gas mark 6.
When ready, brush with beaten egg, then bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar and water in a pan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then stir in the rose water.
When the buns have finished baking, immediately brush them with rose syrup, sprinkle with rose petals and the leftover pistachio, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you like, you can add edible eyes to one or two, where the pistachio filling looks like a mouth.
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