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Charcoal Burger Buns | Tang Zhong Method

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Can burger buns be anymore delicious and simple to make? This burger bun recipe is a keeper if you like soft and fluffy rolls with a tint of sweetness.

I have been meaning to make this charcoal burger buns for ages and finally came around to ticking it off from my bake list. This burger buns is blackened from the addition of activated charcoal powder.

Despite the many health benefit claims out there about consuming activated charcoal, I am still doubtful about the facts but it is a natural substance made from heating carbon rich material like coconut shells until they blackened before being pulverised to powder. I often use activated charcoal simply for the blackened effect on my bakes, not really for its health benefits.

This is a Tang Zhong base Burger Dough

Since I prefer soft and moist bread on top all else, it only makes sense that I will be making this charcoal buns with the Tang Zhong Method as it not only yields a super soft bun rolls, it stays so over several days and week if you store them correctly. Tang Zhong are usually used for Asian sweet breads but you can adapt this method for the non sweet version as well and they will have the same result. Simply reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe.

If you are interested in learning more about the Tang Zhong bread, visit my page on Shokupan Bread Loaf post for more insights.

In this recipe, if you are not a fan of adding activated charcoal, you can simply omit it and replace the quantity with baker's flour instead for a plain roll.

Also, don't forget to check out my Fried Chicken Burger with spiced mayo lettuce and Korean chilli sauce if you want to learn how to make the plain bun version. :)

Try out this burger bun and tell me what you think!



Yield: 4 Burger buns

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Baking time: 20 -30 minutes

Charcoal Burger buns - makes 4 burgers





Full Cream Milk



Bakers Flour




Bakers Flour



Activated Charcoal Powder



Full Cream Milk



Fine Sea Salt



Instant Yeast



Caster Sugar



Unsalted Butter - room temperature



Large Eggs







50 g (1 medium egg)

Full Cream Milk


Whisk the two ingredients together until well combined then store in the fridge until ready to use.



Prepare the dough

1. Start by making the Tang Zhong. Place the milk and flour into a small saucepan over medium heat and keep whisking until it starts to thicken to a paste. This process will not take long at all, so don't walk away from it since it is a very small amount. Once the Tang Zhong is ready, place into a clean bowl and wrap with a cling film touching the surface and leave to cool completely.

2. Once the Tang Zhong have cooled, prepare the Final dough. Gently heat the milk in the microwave and bring it to 35°C. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar into the milk then whisk in the instant yeast. Leave at room temperature for approximately 10 to 20 minutes until it becomes frothy.

3. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment place the flour, salt and sugar and mix slightly to combine. Add in the eggs and milk/yeast mixture and continue to mix on low speed for 3 minutes until they come together to form in to a dough. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl if necessary.

Add in the room temperature butter and continue to mix for approximately 12 to 15 minutes at medium speed, scraping the side and base of the bowl when necessary. The dough will start looking really wet at this point, but keep mixing as it will eventually come back to a smooth dough again. Scrape the side and bottom of the bowl when necessary.

When the dough is ready, it should start to pull clean away from the side of the bowl and feels pliable. If you pinch a small piece of the dough and gently stretch it between your two hands, you should be able to stretch it thin enough to see through. This is an indication that you have developed enough gluten and the dough is ready to be shaped and to be bulk ferment.

4. Lightly dust your work surface with some flour then transfer the dough over. Roll the dough to a semi tight ball then place it into a lightly greased bowl large enough for it to double in size then cover the bowl with a slightly damp tea towel. Leave to bulk ferment at room temperature. This will take approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on the ambient of your kitchen.

5. When the dough have doubled in size, knock back the dough by pressing gently in to the dough to release some of the excess gas and divide into 4 equal sized portions of approximately 110 g each. Working with one or two dough at a time, fold all corners of the dough to the centre then turning the folded sides facing down onto the bench top, curve your palm slightly around the side of dough, then roll the dough to a smooth ball, tightening it slightly. Continue this process until you have rolled all of the doughs.

Place the burger buns on to baking tray lined with parchment paper then cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 45 minutes to an hour or more (depending on the ambient of your kitchen) until the buns rises slightly again and feels airy when you gently try to jiggle the baking tray.

Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to 170 °C.

6. When the buns are ready, prepare the egg wash by whisking the eggs and milk together then gently brush the top of each buns - this will make your burger buns shiny. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds (optional).

Place the tray into the pre heated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes. It is pretty hard to tell if the buns are ready because it is dark in colour in the first place. If you are unsure if the buns are fully cooked on the inside, probe the thermometer into one of the buns from the sides and it should read at least 90°C / 195F. Another way to test is to carefully turn the buns over and tap the base. If it sounds hollow, it is ready.

Once baked, remove the baked burger buns from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack to cool. Don't leave breads cooling on a hot tray as this can cause the base of the buns to retain the steam and become soggy.



If you are not consuming the bread roll on the same time, wrap them tight in food wrap and keep at room temperature for up to a week. If your keeping space is particularely humid, you can store them in the fridge wrapped well but it is not recommended since keeping bread in the fridge can cause the bread to go stale quicker.


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