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In its most common form, the cream bun is a wheat flour-based roll that is split down the middle and filled with whipped cream or butter cream. The outside of the bread is often coated with coconut flakes. There is another version known as the cream horn, which is a lighter pastry in the form of a spiral tube which is filled with whipped cream. The buns are a popular food throughout Asia and particularly in Hong Kong. There are also European and Scandinavian versions of the pastry.
The Chinese version of this pastry is most commonly known as the coconut cream bun. It is one of the few Asian pastries that are baked, rather than being fried or steamed. Versions of this food can be found throughout other Asian countries such as Korea, Thailand, and Japan.
In Thailand, the cream bun is often filled with ice cream and is a popular street food. The Korean version of the bun is usually not as soft and the filling is sealed inside the pastry. Japanese versions of the cream bun are commonly referred to as custard buns or kurimu-pan. Another Japanese bun known as kashi-pan, or sweet bread, is often filled with chocolate cream.
There are also British cream buns. Though they are not as ubiquitous as the Chinese variety, they are a popular food nevertheless. This version of the pastry is usually circular and arranged more like a small sandwich with separate pieces joined together by the cream filling.
In Scandinavian countries, cream buns are traditionally served as a part of Easter celebrations. Known as semla, the bun is similar in appearance to the British version. The primary difference between semla and other varieties of the bun is the seasoning, as it is typically made with cardamom and filled with breadcrumbs and almond paste. Instead of coconut flakes, the outside of the cream bun is dusted with powdered sugar. Some Finnish bakeries offer the cream buns side-by-side with the same pastry filled with fruit jam.
The cream puff is another Asian pastry that is similar to the cream bun. It is most commonly seen in Vietnamese cuisine. The pastry is small, round, and of a fluffier consistency. Rather than being placed in an open split, the cream is enclosed in the pastry. Many Vietnamese restaurants will serve cream puffs as a complementary part of the meal.
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