Pan Size : Mini Loaf Pan x 3
Yield : 3 Mini Loaves
Recipe for : Philips Air Fryer XXL OR Air Fryer Oven

My husband & I are coffee lovers. We’d always hunt for the best coffee in town whenever we travel. We do have our favourite cafe right here in sunny Singapore and they serve one of the best Magik we’ve had — comparable with the ones in Melb. But of course, we’re not at all a coffee snob and do sometimes enjoy the simplest & on-the-go kind of coffee — INSTANT MIX COFFEE.

So here I am, infusing our favourite Nescafe Gao Siew Dai Hazelnut into the all-time-favourite Soft Milk Buns. I have started to modify my base recipe to cater to the preference of my family who likes a little less chewy texture to their bread. So if you prefer the original chewy texture of your buns, go with 100% bread flour. Otherwise, you can opt to trial a ratio between Bread Flour + AP Flour. Chewiness of a bread is linked to the protein % of your bread. You can always check the Ingredients List of your pack of flour to determine the protein %. My new mix yields an 11% protein vs the usual 13%

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250g Bread Flour (I use a mix of 190g Bread Flour + 60g AP Flour)
3g Instant Yeast
30g Fine Sugar
3g Fine Salt
20g Nescafe Gao Siew Dai (or any Instant Coffee Mix. If you are using pure coffee granules, I suggest you use only 10g as the flavour may come out stronger)
185ml Whole Milk (store bought fresh milk works fine)
20g Unsalted Butter (softened)
**This is a bread dough with a hydration level of 74%**

**PRE-DOUGH PREP STEP** Warm up milk at low heat, we do not want it boiling but just warm enough to dissolve the coffee powder. Stir in Instant Coffee Mix and put aside. MAKE SURE IT IS NOT HOT, just lukewarm

1) Sieve bread flour into mixing bowl. Add in yeast & sugar then whisk it to incorporate the dry ingredients evenly. Add in milk (pre-mixed with instant coffee) & salt

**For Standmixer user, please skip steps 2–6 and use my stand mixer method here under “Standmixer 101” section**

2) Use hand mixer with dough hook at Speed 2 (low) to knead the dough for about 2mins. Once you see the dough structure start to form, add in butter (fold in dough with your hand to cover the butter) and continue kneading for another 3mins
[Note : Rest handmixer for about 30secs or so after adding butter to prolong the “life” of your hand mixer. Do not use hand mixers below 300watts cause it will just burn out. If you’re using stand mixer, you’re absolutely safe]

3) You will see the dough forming into a scraggly ball at about the 3rd minute onwards after you add in the butter. If you have been trying out my Soft Milk Buns recipe, this dough texture is almost similar

4) Move dough to a clean surface to start hand kneading. Use a spatula to transfer every bit out

5) DO NOT succumb to the temptation of dusting the surface with flour as it will reduce the hydration level of the dough. Try using a plastic/marble/any smooth surface for this

Take a deep breath, warm up your arms & elbow for a good workout in the next steps!

6) Start to slap & knead your dough by pulling up the whole dough & slapping it down like this . Repeat this motion by taking the dough nearest to your body, fold it front then pulling up the dough and slapping it again. I did this for a good 15–20mins before the dough was smooth & did not leave any sticky residue anymore. Most bits on my hand & fingers were back into the dough. It is definitely still tacky due to the high hydration

7) Test your dough by stretching it to see if it stretches well without breaking immediately & if it passes the “window pane test”. You can start your 1st proofing once this is done.

For more insights on readiness and how to knead your dough using a combination of a hand mixer + hand kneading, you can head to my IG Story here for guidance

8) Smoothen up & tighten up the dough then place them into a bowl (dusted with flour — remove any remaining flour in the bowl). Cover with a cling wrap or towel. Proof it for 1hr or till double in size

9) After 1hr, remove the dough from mixing bowl. Depending on how big your tray is, weigh your whole dough if possible, then divide it into the no. of portions your tray can fit. Most dough should weigh about 440g — 480g

I am using 3 mini loaf wooden pan this time round. So I divided my dough into 9 portions weighing about 52g each

10) Roll up the 9 doughs & let it rest on the surface for 15mins under cling wrap/cloth

11) Press down each dough with a rolling pin to remove any air bubbles from the dough & roll it up into a taut ball to make sure it’s tight & smooth (removing air bubbles help to ensure your texture is even inside and the top of your bun does not collapse down when pressed causing an ugly dent in). Refer here on how to ensure your ball is smooth & taut.

Put them onto your lined tray — I put 3 in each mini loaf pan. Place them side by side & you will see double in size later with their sides sticking to each other for the pull-apart effect after bake. If you prefer to have individually shaped buns, have larger gaps in between them and divide the portions into 2 baking trays instead

12) Proof it for another 1hr or until double the size. Depending on the temperature in your home, some cooler condition require a little longer proofing. Normally the rule of thumb is, dough doubling in size. Proofing time of 1hour 15mins seem like a norm for me as my home is air conditioned most of the time

1) Pre-heat AF @ 140degrees for 5mins

2) Bake @ 140degrees for 15mins

3) Leave buns in AF for 2mins before removing to be cooled on rack. Try to cool it down outside the tray with baking paper removed to avoid a soggy bottom (cooling on rack — with holes below allows for hot air to travel out of the bun) Cover with cloth for it to cool down to prevent crust from deflating due to sudden temperature change and keeps the buns from drying out.

(if the bottom of your buns become moist due to moisture heat, just flip your buns over and throw it in the AF to bake for 1min @ 140degrees)

4) Serve if you must but I prefer to keep mine overnight for breakfast the next day. After cooling on the rack, I move them into my air tight Lock & Lock container. This is how the buns turned out to be after bake — all fluffy with the pull apart texture

Hope this recipe helps all AF bakers out there. Do try to batch test for the right temperature and bake timing since Air Fryers may vary due to different circumstances (usage frequency, size and model)


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