Monday, July 15, 2013

Baker's Corner: Savoury Whole Wheat Buns

I've been on a health-binge lately. I get afflicted by this rare phenomenon once in a blue moon! I've been wanting to shift a few pounds for a while but never got around to doing it (or rather, wasn't all that serious about). A few weeks ago, I decided that procrastination wasn't doing me any favors so I headed straight to my fridge and to my pantry afterwards and started chucking out all the things I thought I shouldn't be eating, mostly the white stuff and processed food. I even emptied out my snack drawer at work so that I wouldn't be tempted to indulge in my stash of coffee-break goodies. This was swiftly followed by a trip to the grocery store where I piled my trolley with a multitude of whole grains, a variety of leafy greens, herbs, veggies and fruit, and last but not least, chalked out a weekly exercise regimen. Needless to say, I embarked on this new path to skinnyville, fervently hoping that I would stick to it! far so good  

One of the biggest challenges I face apart from the occasional fast food and fried food cravings is the snack cravings that roughly hit me between 4 to 5pm. Feeling peckish is the driving force for me to go down to the canteen and grab a spring roll, curry puff or a packet of chips or cookies to go along with my evening coffee. To avoid this, I made up my mind to make my own healthy snack at home. I knew that I had to make it a point to eat only that whenever the snack cravings reared their ugly head. 

I've been baking buns and rolls for quite a while now and I have always used refined flour for the same. This time, I decided to try my same recipe with 100% whole wheat flour. I thought I would do a savory herbed whole wheat bun. This recipe for the bun is modified from my previous potato bun and pizza bun recipe. Instead of doing a stuffed bun, I incorporated extra flavor into the dough in the form of caramelized onions, garlic, fresh herbs, red chilli flakes and some low-fat Parmesan cheese.  I also used olive oil instead of melted butter in the recipe. I was almost certain that the buns would not be as soft and fluffy as the ones I make from refined flour but surprise....surprise, they were just as soft and tasted pretty awesome! I was delighted with the results. I made a small batch over the weekend and froze the rest of the dough to bake later in the middle of the week. One small bun per day was enough to satisfy my evening snack cravings which made the whole endeavor worth while. 

Here is the recipe for the savoury whole wheat buns. You can switch it up any way you like by using any combination of fresh herbs, experimenting with different seasonings and making creative shapes with the dough.

Savoury Whole Wheat Buns

Preparation time: ~ 90 mins (includes dough rising time)
Baking time: 20 mins
Makes: 18 small buns
Recipe Category: Breakfast/Western
Recipe Level: Easy


3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup skimmed milk
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1 large egg
1 envelope of active dry yeast or 11/2 tsp instant yeast
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp spring onion greens/scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
2-4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tsp red chilli flakes (depending on your spice level)
1 tbsp olive oil for frying

2 tsp white sesame seeds for sprinkling
1 egg white whisked - for brushing on top of the buns


1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat and add the minced garlic. Sauté for a few seconds. Add the chopped onions, a pinch of salt and fry the onions until caramelized. Keep in mind that this may take a while. Once the onions are richly browned, switch off the flame and keep aside to cool.

2. Heat the milk until lukewarm and dissolve 1 tsp of sugar. Add in the yeast (swirl the cup gently to dissolve) and keep closed for 10-15min until frothy. This step is done to proof the yeast.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add in the remaining sugar (2 tsp), salt and mix well. Make a dent in the middle, add the milk-yeast mixture, olive oil, the egg, the caramelized onion mixture, spring onion greens, red chilli flakes, Parmesan cheese, and a sprinkling of warm water and knead well (6-10 min) until you get a smooth, pliable dough. If the dough is too dry add in a few tsp of water or if it is sticky, add in more flour. Wrap the bowl with cling wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

4. At the end of the hour, you will notice that the dough has approximately doubled in volume. Punch the dough down and knead it again.

5. Shape the dough into balls with the palm of your hands. You can weigh the dough balls if you are very particular about the uniformity in size.

6. Place a sheet of parchment paper/aluminum foil over a baking tray. Place the buns on it leaving some distance between them. Leave to rise for another 20 min. While this is going on, preheat the oven to 190 deg C. Brush the raised buns with the whisked egg white and sprinkle white sesame seeds over the surface. (Alternatively, you could brush the buns with milk and then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top).

7. Bake (middle of the oven) for about 20 min until the buns turn golden brown. You could brush the buns with melted butter if you like but I avoided doing that for obvious reasons. 

8. Serve the buns while still warm!

  • When you heat the milk for proofing the yeast, it should not not be scalding hot. When spooned over your wrist, it should feel warm.
  • I usually use Fleishmann's active dry yeast. One envelope amounts to roughly 2 1/2 tsp. If you are using instant yeast, reduce the quantity i.e. use 11/2 tsp for this recipe.
  • You can use any kind of fresh herb in this recipe like chives, scallions, parsley, coriander, rosemary & thyme. If you don't have fresh herbs, you could also use dried Italian herbs. 
  • If you don't want to use fresh garlic, you could use garlic powder instead.
  • Brushing the buns with milk before baking makes them softer and brushing them with egg whites, gives them a glossy surface. 



  1. The recipe is so good, will try it for sure. Yes, I totally understand the food craving at 4 and 5...I don't whats that about..

  2. Rosh just tried this, holy crap this is soo simple and tasty. Loved it :) Kudos for experimenting and coming up with this. Thanks for introducing this to us.


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