Friday, 18 January 2013

Steamed Buns - Bao (Vegetarian Char Siu)


I had some leftover Hong Kong Flour from making the Guo Tie (Potstickers) so i decided to look for a bao recipe to make some bao. This is my first attempt. I thought it turned out quite well. My knead techniques has nothing to be desired! But i forged ahead anyway. For those with a dough hook, i envy you. I'm definitely going to get one this year! It's a year where dreams come true after all ;)

Vegetarian Char Siu Bao

Ingredients: Makes 12 baos

1 1/2 tsps instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup fine sugar
1 cup Hong Kong Flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
3 tsps of melted butter

1.  Mix the yeast with 2 tbsps warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp of Hong Kong flour and set aside in a warm place until bubbly. About 5 to 10 minutes. If any of you have any doubts if your yeast still works, this is a good method to try. If it doesn't bubble up, change the yeast. It should look like this - 

The yeast is alive!

2.  Sift the remaining all-purpose flour and self-raising flour.  Add in the rest of the sugar, the yeast mixture, the warm water and melted butter (if you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge to melt before hand, you can dump the butter into the warm water to dissolve! But make sure your water is slightly warmer than warm because the cold butter will lower it's temperature). Mix everything into a soft dough.

3. Here comes the tricky part. THE KNEAD! Dust your working area with flour.  Turn out the soft dough and start kneading with your hands until smooth and elastic, this should take at least 10 minutes or more for novices like me. Dust with extra Hong Kong flour as needed. But please resist all attempts to dust the dough at least for the first 5 minutes. You'll think by dusting the dough, it won't stick so much to the table. But you'll overdo it and end up with a hard dough! Resisting is the key. Nevermind if it sticks to everything, just work it until the gluten in the flour is developed and elastic. Or you know what is simpler? Yup, throw the dough into the cake mixer with the dough hook attached and go sip your coffee while the mixer does your work. It should not be too sticky at the end -

4.  Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and proof for at least 1 hour or until doubled. Do not over-proof it though. As soon as it doubles in size it is done!

5.  Punch down the dough to remove air.  Prepare a floured working surface.  Knead the dough briefly for about 5 minutes and divide them into 12 portions with the help of the weighing machine. 

6. I'll leave it to this youtube video to teach you how to roll out the dough and pleat the bao. The video is in japanese but a picture paints a thousand words! I watched it without any audio. The steps are surprisingly easy! Ok my baos are not amazingly beautiful but still good for first attempt. I almost forgot to mention you can put any ingredients you like into your bao. If you want to put meat, it doesn't have to be cooked first. If you want to put vegetables, please cook it first. I put vegetarian char siu and hard boiled egg in mine. Yummy!

Bao (before steaming)

7. Heat up your steamer. Cut some baking paper to put the bao on. The water should be boiling rapidly. You can turn the fire down to make it easier for you to put the bao inside the steamer. Cover the steamer, turn up the fire as soon as you are done. Steam for 15 minutes. More if you are using raw meat. The bao will expand almost 2x it's size! Don't put them too close together.

Bao (after steaming)

Have fun!

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