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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chinese Steamed Bun (Bakpao)

This is my 2nd attempt of making chinese steamed bun. This attempt gives a much better result than before, so I decided to post the recipe. I used all-purpose flour instead of bao flour. 

Makes 1 dozen buns/ baos

1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup bao/ pao flour (you can substitute with all purpose flour but the buns will just take on a yellowish tinge, you can find bao flours in most Asian grocery stores)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
3 tsps of melted butter (unsalted)

1.  In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 2 tbsps warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp of bao flour.  Mix well to get rid of the lumps, cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until frothy, this should take about 15 minutes.  If the mixture is not frothy at all, it is likely that the yeast has died so redo this step with some new yeast.  Meanwhile, cut up 12 squares of baking paper (measuring roughly 3 inches by 3 inches) for placing the buns on while steaming.

2.  In a large bowl, 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.  Use a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.  
3.  Prepare a floured working surface.  Turn out the soft dough and start kneading with your hands until smooth and elastic, this should take at least 10 minutes.  The dough should not be too sticky.  Dust with extra bao flour as needed.

4.  Prepare an oiled bowl and place the dough into it.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to proof for at least 1 hour or until doubled.  Note that it will take longer usually to proof in colder and drier climate.
5.  Punch down dough to remove some of the air.  Prepare a floured working surface.  Knead the dough briefly for about 5 minutes.  Roll the dough into a log.  I do this for easier division of the dough for each bun.  Meanwhile, you can prepare a wok for steaming, by the time you finish sealing the buns, the water should be boiling rapidly and you can immediately steam the buns.
6.  Divide the dough into 12 portions roughly.  Take one portion of dough, knead with your hands lightly and form into a ball.  Flatten the ball with your hands and press down with your thumb in a circular motion.  

7.  Spoon about 1 1/2 tsps of red bean paste into the middle of the flattened dough.  Seal the dough by gathering the edges together and gently twist to seal.  Place the bun, seal-side down onto the prepared baking paper squares.
8.  Steam the buns over high heat (covered) for about 15 minutes.   Note that the buns will expand while steaming for the first time.  Do watch the wok to make sure that there is enough water while steaming.
9.  Serve hot.  If there are still leftover buns after the first serving, allow to cool and store in an air-tight container, they can be re-steamed later.

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