Bread Baking Babes – Chinese Flower Steam Buns

Chinese Flower Steam Buns

I know I have said it before but I am going to say it again, one of the best things about being a Bread Baking Babe is that I get to bake bread that I never would have baked, this is definitely the case with this month’s bread, Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao or Chinese flower steam buns, chosen by Karen of Bake My Day. Steaming the bread instead of shoving it into the oven? I never ever thought about the possibility but now I know it is possible and I cannot but thank Karen for opening up my restricted mind to new possibilities! I was really late in making them but yesterday I did it and I was lucky enough to bake them together with Karen herself but I would like to do it again as I have a feeling that my steamed flower buns wasn’t that close to what they should have been on the outside. Taste and texture wise they were great but I would have liked them to be a bit drier on the outside. You need to use a low gluten flour so I used 75% pastry flour and 25% corn starch and it worked very well. Not that I know what the real thing is like but it seemed as if it worked anyway. I didn’t do any of the two suggested fillings but put wasabi paste in mine and that was really good, a bit addictive even. I know that Karen tweaked the recipe so you really should click over to her blog to see what she did and get some good suggestions as to make successful flower steam buns, I am posting the recipe below so that you get the picture of what they are like and if you feel like doing them and become a Bread Baking Buddy, you better check out the details at Karen’s blog, see all roads from here go to Bake My Day today.

Chinese Flower Steam Buns

Xiang Cong Hya Juan Bao
(Chinese flower steam buns)
from 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 (plain flour will do)
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. 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.
– 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.

Different filling:
Sweet red bean paste
110 g dried red beans
water for soaking and boiling the beans
120 g sugar
5 tbs vegetable oil

– Wash the beans, discarding any that are damaged. Place beans in a small saucepan, cover with water and soak overnight. The next day bring the beans and the water to the boil. Simmer for 1.1/2 – 2 hours, until the beans have softened, adding more water as necessary. Remove from the heat and drain.
– Put the beans into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, adding the sugar and blending again. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the bean paste and fry on a medium -to-low heat for a few minutes until the paste begins to dry, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to form a cohesive paste. This will take a few minutes and you will be able to see the oil mixed evenly through the bean paste. Cool before use. This paste will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Chinese Flower Steam Buns

If you want to see what the other Bread Baking Babes are up to (and you should, just remember there’s a time difference and some might not have woken up yet)), check them out here.

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