There are two smells that remind me of my late aunt, Jenny 阿姨: a specific laundry detergent and coffee buns.
One of my favorite things to bake is Hokkaido milk bread, because the dough is SO. FLUFFY. It’s so fun to work with! This is the one thing I bake that I find irresistible. I added a coffee topping just like the O' My Buns (coffee buns) my late aunt, Jenny 阿姨 (aunt), would get for us from Yogurtland.
Jenny 阿姨 was the most selfless and classy person I knew. She was my second mom, hype woman, and girlfriend. She would come into my room and simply listen to me rant. Jenny 阿姨 opened the door to the finer things in life for me, like shopping famous brands, exploring new places, and fancy dining. She’d always spoil me on shopping sprees and tell me that I needed the trendy things: Rainbow sandals, Vans sneakers, or Jansport backpacks. She'd say, “不用客氣 (Don't worry about it)！” whenever I look at the price tag.
The bread is so fluffy because of this tangzhong (flour and water) mixture, which packs more moisture into the dough in a way where the dough is still workable and not too wet.
My favorite nights were Friday night’s. After church service, my sisters and I would hurry into my aunt and uncle's van and strap on our seatbelts. When my parents saw us sneaking away with them, we’d holler through the car window; Jenny 阿姨 told us to! Some weeks it was a Yogurtland run, while other weeks it was Starbucks or In-n-out, but no matter what, it was the highlight of my week. Popping these coffee buns in the oven made the whole house smell like O' My Buns. I miss the good ol' spontaneous food adventures with Jenny 阿姨! For now, I'll just have to relive those memories with this recipe.
The Person in Mind
I can’t remember what Jenny 阿姨’s favorite food or dessert was. One, she would always put us and our cravings first and two, she was always on a diet. Most of my memories with her consisted of me enjoying the food that she bought. She was always happy with what we liked. Even at family dinners, Uncle would say she’s on a diet so she can only have two dumplings. She was always saving the best for us.