Chinese Flower Steam Buns
At the end of summer, the Bread Baking Babes have turned to far-away asia for this month's recipe. Baking Soda of Bake My Day! figured that the Babes have mastered the art of baking so well, they can now turn to baking without actually baking (a bit like in that koan about the sound of one hand clapping).
The recipe for this month are Chinese flower steam buns. They are easy to make, if a bit time consuming and they provided the perfect excuse to buy one of those (inexpensive) bamboo steaming containers at the Asian food store. The buns are very tasty and their appeal as streed food becomes immediately apparent. The one thing I couldn't do were the double knots because when I made a noose and tried to pull it tight, the strands of dough would not slide along another but tend to stick to each other. So I made just single knots and tucked the ends under to pretend the other knot was hidden underneath.
I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.
Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao
(Chinese flower steam buns)
Source: Global Baker by Dean Brettschneider
makes 10 buns
"Everywhere you go in China you see people eating steam buns, also known as mantong. Typically Chinese, a sweet bread is combined with a savoury filling, such as red bean paste and barbecued pork, but take care and avoid using too much filling or the bun will fall apart during the rising and steaming stage. The baking powder helps to open up the texture and gives a little tenderness to the eating quality of the buns. If you can, use imported Chinese flour from a specialist Asian food market or store".
300 g chinese flour (use low gluten flour such as cake flour)
15 g sugar
15 g butter
good pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
150 ml chilled water, placed in the refrigerator overnight
rice bran oil, for brushing on dough
40 g finely chopped spring onions or chives
25 g finely chopped red chillies
salt to taste
To make the dough, place all the ingredienst into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, combine to form a very, very firm dough mass. Dont'be tempted to add any water or the steam buns will be flat after steaming.
Place the dough on a work surface and, using your rolling pin, roll out to a thin strip, fold this in half and roll again. Repeat this 10-15 times with a 30 second rest in between each time. This is a way of mixing a very firm dough, the dough will start to become smooth and elastic as a result of the rolling process.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warmish place (23-25C) for 15 minutes. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 25cm square.
Brush the dough surface lightly with oil and sprinkle the chopped chives and chillies evenly over the dough. Season with salt.
Fold the dough in half and then cut into 2.5cm strips so that you end up with 10 folded strips. Stretch each strip and, starting at the folding edge, twist the two pieces of each strip over each other to form a rope.
Take the twisted rope and tie into a double knot, tucking the loose ends underneath. Place each bun with ends facing down on a 5cm square of non-stick baking paper and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Prove for approximately 30-45 minutes in a warm place.
Bring a wok or saucepan of water to the boil with a bamboo steamer sitting on top. Remove the bamboo steamer lid and place the buns on the paper in the steamer 3-4 cm apart to allow for expansion during steaming. Replace the steamer lid and steam for 20 minutes. Repeat until all the buns have been steamed and are firm to the touch.