My parents love to garden, especially things which grow well – and in more recent years they’ve discovered garlic. It began as one type, then a few more from the farmers market or specialty plant stores or gardener friends. Each saved bulb gets separated into papery cloves and planted in the fall, emerging next spring and harvested in the summer as a complete bulb. It all means I get access to all the garlic I could ever want and far more.
This year it is several cultivars of garlic. No one has kept track of just how many cloves got planted last year, but no doubt it is a lot.
This is a sort-of-ish take on Korean cream cheese garlic bread – flower-shaped buns stuffed with sweetened cream cheese and dipped in a garlic-heavy custard. Between the cheese and custardy glaze, which soaks into the cut edges of the bread, it makes for a rich (and gooey) garlic bread with a noticeably endearing sweetness. It’s a case study in combining sweet and savoury, all in the backdrop of toasty bread and plenty of garlic.
As delicious as the classic cream cheese garlic bread it, I find myself slightly wishing it wasn’t quite as sweet (which is very much just my personal preference!). That, and I was thinking about how this might go well with another sweet-savoury thing, pork floss, made of dried shreds of pork which are slightly sweetened and spiced. The result were these buns, made of milk bread bread baked with a savoury garlic cream cheese filling, then doused in the classic garlic glaze and crowned with a majestic pile of pork floss. Slid into the oven for a second bake, they emerge pungent, the bun soft and the frayed edges of the pork floss charred. By letting the pork floss be the main source of sweetness, it retains the sweet-savoury homage to the classic, but keeps it more subtle. To me, it’s the perfect balance and my ideal sweetness for a garlic bread. (Though if you’re a true Korean cream cheese garlic bread fan, I’ve also included a suggestion for a sweetened filling as well.)
After a couple batches of these two weekends in a row the entire kitchen smelled like garlic, my clothes smelled like garlic, and I smelled like garlic. I ate one every day for lunch for a week until my blood became permanently infused with garlic. I think I finally became one with the garlic. Good practice for the upcoming garlic season later this summer.
pork floss garlic cheese bread
- 51g water
- 10g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 2 tsp warm water
- 36g milk
- 10g heavy cream
- 25g egg
- 150g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 10g granulated sugar
- 16g butter, softened
cream cheese filling
- 80g cream cheese
- 1 thin green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- beaten egg for egg wash
garlic butter glaze
- 28g (2 tbsp) butter
- 15g (1 tbsp) milk
- 3/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp each dried oregano and dried basil
- 12g egg
- pork floss
To make the tangzhong, whisk together the flour and water in a small saucepan until there are no lumps. Heat over low-medium, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens into a thin paste and lines are left in the roux behind when stirring (check by stirring without touching the bottom of the saucepan). If you have a thermometer, check the temperature – it should be 65C or 149F. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
For the dough, mix together the yeast, tbsp of water and a sprinkle of sugar. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes until it bubbles and smells yeasty (not necessary with instant yeast but sometimes I prefer this to ensure the yeast granules break up).
Whisk the milk and eggs into the tangzhong.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat gluten if using, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the tangzhong/milk/egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or use the dough hook of a standmixer) until a cohesive dough is formed. Turn out onto the counter and knead in the soft butter in two additions. The dough should be smooth, elastic and tacky. Place the dough in a container and let rise overnight in the fridge (or if you want to do it all in one day, go ahead and let it rise 1 hour at room temperature or until doubled and then proceed immediately).
The next day turn out the risen dough on a floured surface. Deflate and divide into 6 equal pieces (each about 50g). Roll each piece into a ball, then use a rolling pin to roll each ball out to 8cm diameter disc. Place the pieces of dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers to poke the centre of each disc to thin out the amount of dough there (it will make it a bit easier for you later when filling). Cover and let rise until well puffed, 1-2 hours (longer if the dough is cold).
Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix together the cream cheese, green onion, garlic and salt. (If you prefer the sweet filling which is more classic, you can also mix in about 15g of sugar.) Set aside until ready to use.
Near the end of the rise, start preheating the oven to 375F for the first bake. Once the dough is risen, fill the dough. Wet your fingers under the tap so the dough doesn’t stick, and tamp a loonie-sized area in the centre of each bun to accommodate the filling. Scoop about 1 tbsp of the cream cheese filling into each indent. Brush the buns all over with beaten egg. Place the buns in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350F. Bake around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let the baked buns cool a few minutes before proceeding with the next steps.
Next, prepare for the second bake by turning the oven temperature up to 400F. Make the garlic butter glaze by placing the butter and milk together in a small heatproof bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the remaining ingredients for the glaze.
Use a thin bamboo skewer to poke the buns all over – this will allow a little but of the glaze to seep into the bun itself. Brush the buns generously with the glaze. Put a large spoonful of pork floss on top of each bun.
Bake the buns for about 5 minutes or until the pork floss has browned a bit, the garlic is fragrant and glaze that has slid down the sides of the buns and onto the tray is sizzling. Eat warm!