Thursday, 24 September 2009

Nice and Steamy Does It.

I don't want to alarm you, but this month the Bread Baking Babes decided to bake - not with hot air, but with hot water. Yes, it's getting hot in here my friends. Steamy in fact. You are definitely going to need your bamboo steamer for this one.

Baking Soda of Bake My Day challenged us to make Chinese Flower Steam Buns this month. This was a new one for me, but I was happy to give my steamer a workout.
(And by steamer I mean this bamboo one that I got for $10 at the grocery store. I have a fancy electric one too - that I have no end of trouble with. Anyone have good luck with electric ones? Why don't they make the baskets so that you can switch them around like you can with bamboo ones?)

I would say that my buns were semi-successful. I am still new to steaming breads and pastries, and in fact have never had steamed breads and pastries anywhere else either, so I have nothing to compare them to.

The dough reminded me a bit of pasta dough. I subbed in 1/3 rice flour to 2/3 all purpose, I was pleased with the lower gluten results. I used Thai dragon chilies from my garden, with the scallions, green peppers, kosher salt and toasted sesame oil. I had a bit of a hard time getting the filling to stay inside the buns, and ended up piling some on top. No problem. I set them on wax paper trays that I punched with a hole punch, but they did stick a bit to the buns and next time I think I will use parchment. (I confess, I was being cheap!)

I served them with a dipping sauce of soy sauce mixed to taste with sweet chili sauce. The taste was very good and very hot! It turns out my garden chilies pack quite a punch. The buns were somewhat firm and chewy, and I am not sure if that is how they are supposed to be or not. Let me know if you have experience with steamed buns like these.

I am glad to have tried them, and look forward to trying them again soon.
Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao
(Chinese flower steam buns)
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 ingredients into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, combine to form a very, very firm dough mass. Don't 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 each piece to a 25cm square. {{this is strange...he never states that you divide the dough in this stage, so use and roll the one ball of dough you have}}
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. Proof 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.
Note: you might want to adjust the steaming time from 10-20 minutes, keeping the water at a low blub.

If you haven't visited already, please drop in and see Baking Soda's Chinese Flower Steam Buns!
If you would like to bake steam along with us this month and earn a Bread Baking Buddies badge, the Buddy date is set for Monday 5 October, please leave Baking Soda your link through email (bakemyday AT gmail DOT com) or in the comments on her site here, and she'll be happy to visit and send you your badge.

These buns have been Yeastspotted!
The Bread Baking Babes