Three-dimensional character bread, commonly known as chigiri-pan in Japan, is becoming an increasingly popular trend all over the world. These pull-apart bread buns are not only adorable, but also soft, fluffy and not overly sweet. You can be as creative as you like and make different characters/designs but seeing so many Totoro bakes on Instagram, I just had to bake these Totoro bread buns first!
Snowy and Totoro! Cuteness overload! These totoro bread buns can be baked in a square tin as well but I prefer the ring form. You can use a chiffon pan or a round pan with a round cookie cutter in the middle (I managed to squeeze 8 Totoros perfectly in my 24cm pan).
Golden brown totoro bread, slightly crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. These are actually milk buns so they smelled heavenly when straight out of the oven, and tasted even better! 😀
Just because these totoro bread buns are way too adorable, I simply had to snap more pictures, at every corner of my house! 😀
You can skip to the end for the recipe but I’ll be sharing some tips and important techniques here. Bread making is not difficult at all once you mastered the basic techniques and of course, patience is virtue during the fermentation and resting stages. 😉
You’ll start off with basic ingredients such as bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, fresh milk, water, butter and half an egg (which I only realised after a minute of mixing thus it’s not shown here). In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook, mix everything together except butter.
Add butter and let the dough knead until it no longer sticks to the side, around 5 mins on medium speed.
Next, perform the (much dreaded) gluten windowpane test. Pinch a small portion from your dough and try to stretch it out until light can pass through. If it doesn’t break, the gluten is well-developed and you can proceed to the next step. If many holes start to appear, rest your dough for 2 mins and knead it again for 1 min. Perform the windowpane test until successful. P.S. You don’t have to stick your dough on an actual window like me, it’s just easier for me to take a picture of a properly stretched dough. 🙂
Time for the fun part-kneading the dough into a tight ball. You can check out this video here for the method that I used. At this stage, try pressing the dough gently and it’ll spring back up. Rub the surface of the dough with some oil and place it in a large bowl for it to rise.
After 30-40 mins of proofing, the dough would have doubled in size. Try pressing the dough gently this time and it’ll cause an indentation. And here comes another fun part, punching the dough with all your strength to release the air trapped inside. 🙂
Divide and scale your dough into nine portions of 50g each. A metal scraper would come in handy here to cut your dough as you won’t want to stretch your dough too much to preserve the gluten strands. Let rest for 5 mins.
Round your divided dough for a final time and squeeze 8 portions into your pan. Pinch off tiny balls from the remaining portion to form ears for your Totoro bread buns. This is also a good time to preheat your oven (200°C). Let it proof for 30 mins and your totoros will double in size again, leaving no more gaps in your pan! Spray the inner walls of your oven with some water to create steam during the initial stage of baking.
After 15 mins, your totoro bread buns are done! Resist the temptation as we still need to decorate our totoro. 🙂
Let cool for 10 mins before decorating. I brushed on some icing sugar to resemble Totoro’s stomach and piped out Totoro’s features using melted dark and white chocolate. As easy as ABC! 😀 Even Snowy is smiling at the sight of these cute little Totoro bread buns!
- 250g Bread Flour
- 20g Sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 5g Yeast
- ½ Egg
- 80g Warm Milk
- 40g Warm Water
- 20g Butter (Room Temperature)
- Icing Sugar
- Melted Dark Chocolate
- Melted White Chocolate
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients except for butter. Mix on medium speed till combined.
- Add butter and mix on medium-high speed till the dough no longer sticks to the side (and you'll hear a slapping sound), around 5 mins.
- Perform the gluten windowpane test. If successful, proceed to the next step. If not, let the dough rest awhile and continue kneading.
- Knead the dough manually into a tight round ball on a floured surface.
- Oil the surface of the dough and place the dough in a (greased) large mixing bowl. Cover with clingwrap and let it rise in a warm place for 30-40 mins.
- After the size of the dough has doubled, punch the dough to release the air inside.
- Divide and scale the dough into 9 portions of 50g each and cover with clingwrap. Let rest for 5 mins.
- Round your portions again and place 8 portions in a 24cm chiffon tin/a round pan with a round cookie cutter in the middle. Get creative and improvise!
- Pinch off tiny balls from the remaining portion to form Totoro's ears. Leave it to rise again in a warm place for 30 mins.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- After 30 mins, slide the tin into the oven and immediately spray the inner walls of the oven to inject steam.
- Lower your oven temperature to 190°C and bake for 15 mins till golden brown. Let cool for 10 mins before decorating.
- Brush on icing sugar to form Totoro's stomach.
- Melt small amount of dark and white chocolate in a microwave and pipe out Totoro's features.