techno man and milk bun

“With your buns you just add water to the flour” remarked Techno Man. “I wonder if my recipe is different. It has been in my family for generations.”

“Let me guess,” said Mouse, “ you are using butter and milk, right?”

“That’s it!” said Techno Man. “We use butter and milk. I think the recipe is really good and it comforts me that it is so old. It’s tried and trusted, it can’t be wrong! So, why are you using only water?”

Mouse explained that the original idea of this recipe collection was to demonstrate that you can easily make these staples at home, quickly and cheaply. The collection will become the Artist’s Survival Cookbook. The Dedes are annoyed to see a loaf of bread  in the supermarket costs $7 or a tiny packet of Grissini is $5. For the same price Mouse can buy a 5kg bag of flour and feed the troops for a couple of weeks. Of course, everybody knows that white flour is not the healthiest option. It basically has no nutritional value at all. It’s lack of nutritients is second only to sugar. Unfortunately the majority of baked goods you get in the supermarket and in most bakeries are made from white flour with a good measure of salt, sugar, hydrogenated fat, preservatives and other additives. The Dedes’ reasoning is that making it yourself doesn’t take long and you know exactly what’s in it. Once you realise how easy it is you might become more adventurous with different flours and flavours.

If you live on a tight budget, and you haven’t done much cooking before, it doesn’t make sense to start with a complicated meal. You don’t want to buy unusual ingredients, use a small amount and leave what’s left in the packets to rot in the pantry when you are not even sure if your meal will turn out okay or not.  Why not start with the simplest of recipes. If the no-egg pasta recipe doesn’t work, you might have to throw away 30c of flour (but what can go wrong with this recipe anyway?) If it works, you saved yourself $1.50 or so. If it is not to your taste, try egg pasta. (I have yet to find a person who doesn’t like my egg pasta, apart from a vegan or a gluten-intolerant person, of course! But I wouldn’t cook it for them).

You can only win. Involve your kids in making the food. Flat bread, for example, is so easy and they will love it. Next time you are in the shop, have a look at how much a packet of flat bread will set you back. I’ll bet if you make it according to our recipe it will cost you a fraction of that and it’s healthier. And not only will it feed you, it will also give you quality time with the kids.

“Are you actually answering my question, Mouse?” asked Techno Man impatiently.

“Ah, sorry” she said. “Was I raving on again? I am really passionate about the subject, you know. Of course there are other recipes, but using milk and butter makes the buns just a little bit more expensive.”

“But also better”

“Let the cooks be the judge of that. You never know what people like. Milk and butter make the dough heavier and not everyone favours that. I personally like the water ones. Other people prefer them because they are lactose intolerant or choose not to eat animal products.”

“I really like them as a condiment with a hearty soup. It makes a complete meal” Techno man insisted. “You are definitely right there.” Mouse agreed.


3 cups of flour, 50g butter, 250ml milk, 1 teaspoon of dry yeast, salt (optional)


Warm up milk and butter in a pot. Make sure the milk is lukewarm only and the butter melted (If it is too hot you have to cool it down, as heat kills the yeast.) Pour the flour on to a flat surface. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk/butter mix, add the yeast and let sit for 15 minutes. It will dissolve but won’t get quite as sloshy as with water and no butter. Knead to an elastic dough. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and let it rise for one or two hours.

Preheat oven to 200 0C. Knead again and form oblong buns. Place on a baking tray dusted with flour and let it rise again while the oven is heating up. Brush with milk and cut the surface lengthwise before you place them in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes.

“I have to ask you” said Mouse after she had read the recipe. “Why does it say oblong buns? And you slit them lengthwise. Is there a reason?”

“None at all. It is just that it is such an old recipe and that is the classical look of a milk bun.” answered Techno Man.