A vegan, sweet and nutty tear-and-share bread that’s perfect for enjoying with friends, not only does this milk bread use soya milk, it also makes a good introduction to the Asian technique of ‘tangzhong’ – bread made using a roux of flour and water that gives extra-fluffy results.
For the tangzhong, whisk the flour and 200ml of water together in a saucepan set over a low heat until the mixture has thickened to a curd-like consistency (about 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Make the dough. Tip the flour, coconut milk powder, yeast, sugar and salt into a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the soya milk, vegan butter and tangzhong, and mix on low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a neat ball. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the fillings. For the chocolate hazelnut filling, tip the hazelnuts into a food processor and blitz until they form a nut butter.
Melt the chocolate in either a microwave or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Tip the melted chocolate, golden syrup, vanilla extract, espresso powder and salt into the food processor with the nut butter and blitz until combined. Scoop out and set aside.
Make the marzipan filling. In a clean food-processor bowl, blitz the ground almonds and icing sugar until combined. Add the golden syrup and almond extract, and blitz until the mixture comes together in a rough ball. Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead a few times, then cover and set aside.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it up into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.
Take 6 balls and gently flatten each into a disc, using either a rolling pin or the palm of your hand. Spoon a teaspoon of the chocolate hazelnut filling into the middle of each dough disc, and then pull the dough up around the filling pinching the top to seal. Turn the filled ball over so that the seal is on the underside and repeat until you have filled all six balls.
Repeat Step 8 with the remaining 6 balls of dough, this time filling with the marzipan.
Place the cutter in the middle of the greased baking sheet and, alternating fillings, arrange 6 of the buns around it to create a flower shape. Position the remaining 6 buns at every other join around the outside, imagining that these buns are the 6 ‘points’ of a star. Leave a little space between the buns to allow them to expand during baking. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for a further 30–45 minutes, or until the buns are just touching one another.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Brush the buns with a little soya milk and bake them on the middle shelf for 20–25 minutes, until well risen, golden and the buns sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave to cool on the tray for 3–4 minutes, then carefully remove the cutter from the centre of the ‘star’.
Make the glaze. Tip the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Little by little, beat in the soya milk, adding a little extra, if necessary, until the icing is smooth and thick. Spoon the glaze into the piping bag, if using, snip the tip and drizzle the glaze back and forth across the buns. Alternatively, you can drizzle the glaze using a spoon. Serve for your guests to tear apart and help themselves at the table.