A fragrant golden garlic bread with layers of buttery spring onion through the saffron dough, using a traditional East Asian roll shaping technique to create flower-like rolls that your guests pull-apart when you serve it. The technique it uses is for shaping a Chinese flower roll, or 花卷 (pronounced Huājuǎn): a small, steamed bread traditional in Chinese and East Asian baking. They are normally steamed with space around them so the beautiful shape is clear, but here I’ve baked them like batch rolls that you pull-apart to share. Delicious with dips, charcuterie, roasted vegetables, or even as a bread to have with soup. Freezes very well once baked.
There is a great video of this kind of shaping technique by South Korean YouTuber Whitney Wu here, which you should find very helpful.
Makes one loaf containing 6 - 7 pull-apart rolls
Put the saffron in a small bowl, pour on the boiling water then leave to infuse for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile dissolve the yeast in the warm water in another bowl and leave to one side. Put the flours and salt in a mixing bowl.
Pour the hot saffron water onto the flours in a drizzle, stirring as you do so with a fork (or even chopsticks) it doesn’t clump together in the bowl. Then add the yeast mixture and mix everything to a smooth soft dough. Leave the dough covered for 10 minutes then knead lightly until smooth. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
In another bowl place the onions and toss through with the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Place the garlic, butter and oil in a saucepan and heat until the garlic is sizzling. Then pour the butter and oil onto the spring onions and stir well.
Roll the dough out to about 1cm thick, then use extra oil under and over the dough so it is well-coated. Roll the dough out further and see if you can stretch it very thinly. If the dough starts pulling back or resisting, leave it for 5 minutes and you’ll find it stretches further. Then brush then surface with the melted garlic and onion butter generously. Finally, fold the dough in upon itself 3-4 times, like you were rolling up a towel. Cut the strip into about 10 – 12 pieces, then leave them to rest for 5 minutes.
Have a 20cm cake tin ready lined with a single sheet of non-stick paper pressed into it: use a single sheet as the dough will be heavy with garlic butter and this will help hold any extra in the tin and stop it leaking out.
Now two strips and stack them one on the other. Using a chopstick or long pencil press down the middle to seal them together. Leave the dough again for 5 minutes then stretch the dough piece out to about 15cm, lay it over the pencil then twist it around. Finally press down onto the twist to seal the dough into a flower shape. Do this with the remaining dough pieces, then place them in the tin.
Leave the dough to rise for about an hour somewhere warm until almost doubled in size. Heat the oven to 190C fan. Brush the top of the dough lightly with beaten egg, place a pinch of sesame seeds on the top of each bun so you can identify each roll, then bake for about 30 - 35 minutes until risen and brown on top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.