The other day I made a loaf of guava bread. It was good, but today I decided to do another version of the recipe as sweet buns. I almost decided at the last minute to turn them into bagels but wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. There’s always next time, I suppose.
It seems there are a few more Asian markets in Seattle that sell fresh guavas. But they’re really expensive, and not that good. The best guavas I’ve had were in Guam, in my backyard growing up.
I was thinking of using fresh guavas somehow for this, but not only are they expensive, but the nectar and paste have a more concentrated guava flavor and easy to add to a yeast bread recipe. Most products sold in stores also have added color to make these a light pink.
If you don’t want them pink, choose a guava nectar brand that has no added color, although I’ve not seen a guava paste that doesn’t use artificial colors. I usually don’t like artificial colors, but for these, I like how the poppy seeds look with a colored background.
sweet guava poppy seed buns
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup guava nectar, warmed to 110 degrees F. plus a few Tablespoons more, if needed
4 cups bread flour, plus 1/4 cup more, if needed
3 Tablespoons black poppy seeds
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used Pink Himalayan sea salt)
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 ounces guava paste (slightly more than 1/2 cup), softened and mashed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
vegetable oil for greasing the bowl
Egg wash: 1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon of water
In a small bowl, add the guava nectar and yeast together, stirring gently, then leave undisturbed for about 10 minutes until frothy.
Place the bread flour, sugar, salt, and poppy seeds, into a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk several times and dig a well in the center.
Melt the guava paste using a microwave-safe bowl, heating it up in the bowl in a microwave in small increments of time, about 30-40 seconds, just until softened. Mash with a fork. If it’s hot, cool it down before adding to the flour.
Place the egg, the mashed guava paste, the soft butter, and the yeast/guava nectar mixture into the center of the well in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the wet ingredients start to mix with the dry ingredients. Keep stirring for a minute or so. The unformed dough may look like a shaggy mess at this point.
Scrape all the dough and any remaining shaggy bits including the paste onto a clean lightly floured work surface. With floured hands and a plastic dough scraper, knead and try to get the guava paste and wet ingredients mixed into to form a dough. If it seems a little too dry and is hard to fold the dough, add a teaspoon or two of the 1/4 cup guava nectar that you have on hand. If it seems too sticky, add a teaspoon of the 1/4 cup flour that you have on the side, just in case it gets too sticky. You should be able to knead it so that the dough becomes elastic and smooth and not too dry or too sticky and you shouldn’t have to add too much ore of each of the extra flour or nectar. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly tacky, not sticky.
Form the dough into a bowl and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning it once to coat the entire dough surface with oil. Cover top of bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise undisturbed until doubled in size for about 1.5 to 2 hours.
When doubled in size, remove the plastic and punch down the dough to redistribute the yeast and remove pockets of air.
Divide dough into 12-13 pieces, using a scale if you’d like them to all be the same weight. I had 13 pieces, each weighing 3 ounces. Shape each ball of dough into a sphere making sure the bottoms are pinched closed if needed and place spread out among two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rest for an additional 45 minutes to an hour for a second rise until dough springs back very slowly when indented with a finger.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 2 very small cake pans on the lower rack to heat up along with the oven.
Using scissors, snip the top surfaces of each ball of dough several times in a small circle at the very top of the bun to resemble leaves or petals. Make an egg wash by beating a tablespoon of water with an egg in a small bowl. When buns are ready to bake, brush each bun lightly but uniformly with egg wash.
If you have two trays or baking sheets with the buns, choose the first baking sheet of buns that you assembled first that has been rising longer.
When ready to bake, quickly pour a cup of water to one of the small pans on the lower rack, then place the first baking sheet with the buns in the higher rack and shut the oven door to keep the steam from escaping. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove the first cake pan. Do the same for the second baking sheet, adding a cup of cold water to the second small pan in the oven before placing the baking sheet in the oven.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. These rolls are good all by themselves, but I like guava with cheese and find that a good cream cheese goes really well with them.