Friday, January 14, 2011

Bao - Steamed Buns

In my last post I showed a few photos of the seitan-filled steamed buns that Andy and I had on new year's eve.  Someone has asked for the recipe, so here it is.  It comes from a VegNews magazine, but I've just had a quick flip through and can't find it again so I'm not sure which issue.  Lucky for me, the recipe is online already.

I'll post it as we made it, but keep in mind a few notes.  First, this recipe makes 12 buns, but they are HUGE.  2 is enough to fully fill me up for dinner, with nothing else on the side.  When I make these again, I think I'll divide the dough into 18 or even 24 balls and make more, smaller dumplings.  Alternatively, the recipe could easily be cut in half.  But I'm reluctant to do that, because these freeze really well and make a great easy-meal.  Just pull them out of the freezer 30-60 minutes before steaming, or add an extra 5 minutes to the steaming time if you put them in frozen (but they'll be less fluffy if you do this - I know because I just ate two of our NYE buns for dinner tonight).  Finally, the filling is obviously variable - we have made these once by closely-ish following the VegNews recipe, but this time we just mixed up a filling we liked.  Soon I want to try red bean- and/or lotus-paste inside.  So without further ado, the recipe...

Steamed Buns

1/4 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. warm water
1 T. yeast
6 1/2 c. plain white flour
2 T. vegan butter
baking powder, for dusting

In a jug, dissolve sugar in warm water.  Give it a swirl and tip in the yeast and let this sit for 10 minutes.  It should get nice and foamy (if not, get new yeast!).  While the yeast is... yeasting... put flour into a very big bowl.  Add vegan butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it's fully incorporated.  The recipe says "until it resembles small beads" but mine never took on that appearance.  And given the ratio of flour:butter, I don't really see how it could - but hey, maybe in a cooler place it's possible, or maybe I just stuffed it up.  Regardless, I just rubbed in the butter until there were no clumps of butter left.  Dump in the yeasty sugar-water and mix this up.  You'll need to use your hands.  My dough was pretty dry and the flour wouldn't all incorporate, so I dumped it onto the counter and kneaded with wet hands, rewetting my hands every few minutes until the flour was all mixed in.  Then continue kneading for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.  Form this into a ball, put it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let it rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours (use the shorter time if it's stinking hot, like it is here). 

While the dough is doing its thang, put together whatever filling suits your fancy.  You can have a look at VegNews's suggestion, but this is what we did:

2 c. mark-style seitan, minced up
~1/4 c. BBQ sauce
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
1/2 c. peanut sauce
1 tomato, chopped

Cook the seitan in a frying pan until it's getting a little brown, stir in the chilli flakes and tomato, and then add the BBQ and peanut sauces.  Stir it around, and turn off the heat.  Set aside until you're ready to assemble your buns.

Divide the risen dough into 12 and form into balls.  Dust with baking powder and roll into 6 inch circles (make these smaller if you make more than 12 dumplings with this recipe, of course).  Put a scoop of filling in the centre of each circle, then pull up the sides.  I sort of made a pentagon-shape, and then gathered and twisted so the dough folds all headed in the same direction.  Pinch & twist at the top to make sure the dumpling is sealed.  Put each bun onto a little square of baking paper, and put them into the fridge until you're ready to cook.

Boil a little water in a pot, place a few buns into a steamer basket (but beware: they swell a bit, so don't overcrowd the steamer), and put the steamer into the pot.  Turn the burner down to medium low, so it's gently boiling, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.  Then eat, and try not to burn your mouth.


Hannah said...

Once in my life, I made dumplings with premade wonton wrappers. Once. And then you go and do this from scratch? I bow down to you, awesome lady! :)

Emma said...

awesome, thank you :D

Susan said...

I would love to make these! Lotus paste is my favourite, it is so yummy.

cristy said...

Your posts are consistently making me drool at the moment! Thanks for another yummy-looking recipe!