A few weeks ago, I decided that the only way I would bake more is if my heavy KitchenAid mixer is actually taking up real estate on top of the kitchen counter. That way, it can stare and taunt me: Bake, bake, bake! I realized that whenever I have the urge to bake, I fall into the lazy hole after I open the cabinet door that keeps the mixer: I have to carry that big thing out of there? Never mind. But I’ve baked twice in the last couple of weeks and so far I’m amazed at how easy it is to knead the dough and transfer it into a bowl to let it rise. The cleanup of all the mixer parts was what always made me stay away from baking–not so anymore.
A few months ago, I planted several shiso leaf seeds I bought from the Kitazawa Seed Company. I knew they would grow easily and I imagined a lot of sashimi wraps during the summer months. I now have more shiso than I need, so when I found a photo of scallion-cilantro buns from a magazine, I thought I would adapt the recipe since they’re not as spicy as what you usually eat in Japanese restaurants. Perhaps it was the growing condition in my garden–the humidity and summer thunderstorms have changed the way my shiso leaves taste. The one improvement I would make if I bake these buns again is to add a sprinkling of rock salt on top of each.
You can get fresh shiso leaves from your favorite Japanese grocery store, but perilla or sesame leaves are great substitutes and would be less pricey and tangy.
2 tsps active dry yeast
2 tsps salt, divided
2 tsps sugar, divided
1 3/4 cups plus 3 tbsps all-purpose flour
4 tbsps unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
2 cups shiso leaves, julienned, then finely chopped
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle yeast, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl with warm tap water. Let stand until mixture bubbles, about 10 minutes.
2. Place flour, butter, remaining 1 tsp salt and remaining 1 tsp sugar in bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat in egg, extra yolk and the yeast mixture, scraping down sides.
3. Knead on medium speed until dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball; transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Mix shiso with the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle. Spoon shiso mixture evenly onto center and spread mixture to corners of dough. Working from one short edge, roll dough rectangle into a cylinder.
5. Cut cylinder into 3/4″ dough swirls. Transfer dough swirls to prepared baking sheet; brush with oil. Bake until golden brown, no more than 30 minutes.