How do you cope when you can’t sleep at night? Do you burrow deeper under the covers and count herds of sheep? Do you reach for your phone and scroll through social media feeds until your eyes can’t focus and the words all blur? Do you get out of bed to pull out a book, or binge-watch the latest trending series?
Me? I head straight to the kitchen. I’m not looking for a midnight snack, though. The first thing I’ll grab is a bag of flour. While the world outside is dark and still, all I want to do is revel in the soothing simplicity of making bread. Watching the yeast come to life, turning a shaggy, sticky batter into smooth, elastic dough. Gently, methodically kneading the warm mixture is almost like a massage enjoyed vicariously, without any messy human interaction.
Wordlessly, thoughtlessly going through the motions, it’s more about the process than the product. It’s usually a simple sandwich loaf I’ll find rising on the counter in the morning, still bleary-eyed and barely awake. Sometimes I’ll get more ambitious and try something new, a curiosity that I can’t decipher until taking a bite later. In other cases, it’s the perfect opportunity to fulfill longstanding cravings, set aside as being too time-consuming for the average day.
Scallion buns, soft as a pillow, twisted into golden strands that dance with green onions, might just be better than a full night’s rest. The stars aligned when I pillaged the fridge to discover a bouquet of fresh herbs already past their prime. This was their big chance, and mine, to make something magical.
The results would be equally satisfying steamed or pan-fried, but in my sleepless stupor, it was easiest to turn on the oven and walk away. Don’t go too far though, because they bake quickly, meaning you can leave the shaped buns in the fridge to finish off bright and early, rather than staying up all night.
Next time sleep is elusive and the hum of the oven beckons, I know exactly what I’ll be making. Do you?
- 3/4 Cup Aquafaba
- 1/4 Cup Warm Water
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 (1/4 Ounce) Packet (or 2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 3 Cups Bread Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Bundle (About 1 Cup) Scallions, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Bundle (About 1 Cup) Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Toasted White and/or Black Sesame Seeds
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Red Sichuan Peppercorns
- 2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
To Garnish (Optional):
- Toasted Sesame Oil
- Toasted White and/or Black Sesame Seeds
- To make the dough, begin by combining the aquafaba, water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let stand for 5 - 10 minutes, until the yeast has reactivated and become frothy. Mix in the sesame oil, flour, and salt. Once incorporated, switch over to the dough hook attachment and allow the mixer to knead on low speed for about 10 minutes. You can also do this by hand for 15 - 20 minutes instead. The resulting dough should be smooth and elastic, soft and tacky, but not sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size; 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling by simply stirring the chopped herbs, sesame seeds, salt, peppers, and sesame oil together in a medium bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, rolling each into a round ball.
- Use a rolling pin to flatten each one out to about 1/4-inch thick. Apply a light dusting of flour as needed to prevent it from sticking, creating a roughly rectangular shape. The dimensions are less important than the overall thickness.
- Use a very sharp knife to slice vertical strips, without cutting all the way through at one end. Spread 1 - 2 tablespoons of the scallion-herb filling on top, twist the strands together, and wrap them around to make a bun, placing the ends underneath. Set the finished bun on a parchment paper- or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pan. Repeat until all the dough and filling has been used.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly brush the tops with sesame oil and sprinkle with additional sesame seeds, if desired. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 178mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.