Thursday, 4 February 2010

Fun with Steamed Buns


I did it! I have finally convinced myself that I am able to make these Chinese steamed buns. I have been wanting to make these for ages but I don't seem to be able to find a cookbook that clearly explains how to go about making the doughs and steaming the buns. Most recipes simply state 'steam buns in steamer for XX mins', without giving the specific details. I am no good with anything that has got to do with the stove top, and so I really need clear instructions. Some recipes yield too many buns, I don't have to feed a village, so they have never been shorlisted in my to-do list.

Thanks to a recent trip to the library, I picked up a book by chance...the title "三杯面粉" (3 cups of flour) on the cover first caught my attention. A quick flip through the pages I was delighted to discover it was something that I have been looking for, forever! This book is all about Chinese pastries, snacks and buns, it even comes with a chapter on baking breads and simple cookies!

I check out the book right away and it took me no time to grasp the basic idea of bao-making. I plunged in and ended my procrastination!

I started off with the basic dough recipe to make buns with red bean paste as fillings...or what we call tau sar bao (豆沙包) over here in this part of the world. Making the dough is not very much different from making bread dough. You mix flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, oil and water to form a dough. Although the dough was quite easy to knead by hand as it was not wet and sticky, I still took around 20mins or so to get it well kneaded. The recipe uses vegetable oil (I used canola oil) instead of the usual shortening which I thought is a healthier choice. The extra ingredient...baking powder, helps to leaven the dough to make the buns fluffy. As it is not stated whether double-acting baking powder is required, I used single-acting ones. Most recipes require the use of double-acting powder, but the usual baking powder I used appeared to work just as fine. The only thing I don't agree with this book is that the dough is to be left to proof for only 15mins. I did it my way and let it proof close to an hour till the dough doubled in size.

I followed the instructions to make a bunny bun by sniping off a pair of ears and a tiny tail with a pair of kitchen shears.When the buns were ready, my younger child came into the kitchen and exclaimed,"Cutie cats!"; then his brother came along and chided him, "What cats?! They are mice lah!" "Ummm...these are rabbits leh." I told them sheepishly ^_^'

With those short pointed ears, these buns do look more like some big fat cats. I found out later that it has got to do with the angle when holding the scissors to snip the ears, the scissors has to be positioned as close to the surface of the dough as possible in order to make a long snip.

I was quite satisfied with the texture of the buns. The inside was very soft and fluffy and I like it that it didn't stick to the roof of you mouth. The store-bought red bean paste is not too sweet, although I feel that the amount is too little :)


On my second attempt a few days later, I made these buns again...specially for my DH who was coming home. I gave up on making bunnies and tried my hands at making piggies instead.


I am not sure whether it was the steaming or the extra flour I dusted while shaping the dough, after steaming these piggies suffered from a major breakout...tiny little bumps developed all over the skin and there were very noticeable crater like dents on their heads ;'(

Anyway it was fun making these buns and they were certainly as delicious as the first batch I made.

I am dedicating this post to MH over at My Home Kitchen. I have to thank her for opening the doors to making Chinese buns. I was very inspired by the mouth-watering char siew baos she made. She has shared with me her recipes and also showed me how to turn my wok into a steamer by using a cheap steam rack. Without her regular prompting and nudging, I double I would ever make this step forward. Thank you MH!

If you happen to be like me, end the procrastination and give this a try. If I can make these, I am sure you can do even better!


Steamed Buns with Red Bean Paste

Ingredients:
(makes 12)
300g Hong Kong pau flour
3g baking powder
3g instant yeast
30g caster sugar
160ml water
15g vegetable oil

240g red bean paste

Method:
  1. Sieve Hong Kong pau flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add yeast, caster sugar and mix well.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, add in water and mix to form a dough. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it becomes smooth (about 5 mins). Knead in the vegetable oil and continue to knead for another 10-15 mins or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Take a piece of dough  (about the size of a table tennis ball) and stretch it, you should be able to stretch it  to a fairly thin membrane without tearing off easily, if not continue to knead for another 5 to 10mins.
  3. Roll dough into a smooth round, place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it proof for about 1 hr or until it doubles in bulk 15mins. (Updated: it is not necessary to proof for 1 hour or until double in bulk for this stage. Just leave it to rest for 15 mins will do.)
  4. Punch down the dough and give a few light kneading to release the trapped air bubbles. Divide the dough into 12 portions (about 40g each). Roll each portion into a smooth round.
  5. Flatten each dough into a small disc with your palm or a small rolling pin, make the edges thinner and the centre portion thicker. Wrap each dough with 20g of red bean paste. Pinch and seal the seams. Place dough seam side down on a square piece of parchment paper. Cover loosely with cling wrap and leave buns to proof for 20-25 mins.
  6. Place buns in a steamer* and space them apart so that they do not touch one another. Steam at medium to high heat for 12mins (make sure the water is already boiling before steaming). When ready, remove the lid carefully to prevent water from dripping over the buns. Remove immediately and serve warm. Keep any leftovers in fridge (covered with cling wrap or store in airtight containers) and re-steam till hot before serving.
Note: I placed the buns on a steam rack and steam them using my wok.

Recipe source: adapted from 三杯面粉 by 連愛卿

131 comments:

  1. oh my... these are lovely! i've tried making chinese buns b4 and it always fails me. yes, my biggest problem was trying to decipher the instructions too. i never know how much kneading is sufficient and the poofing time is always a killer...

    thanks for posting this recipe, i'll find time to try it out once the cny frenzy is over.

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  2. Hi!
    Congrats! You've finally made your "baos"! :)

    I don't think I can mold the "cats" and "piggies" as good as you! I remembered I made a "butterfly" mantou once... my elder kid remarked that it looked like "dung"!!!! 爸爸在旁憋着不敢笑! 另我好气又好笑!

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  3. They look so cute!!!! Will try to look for ingredients here in Brisbane soon to attempt this recipe...beautiful...

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  4. Hi HHB,
    Very nice looking steam buns! I like it very much! Thanks for inspirting me, I should give this a try after CNY. I've since many homemade steam buns are quite yellowish after steamed so I don't really want to try out but your buns look so good! You've good recipe, I'll definately try it. Thanks so much!

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  5. Such lovely and cute looking paos! If you tinted it with just a little red...to make it pink, the piggies will look even more real! The detail shaping on the paos shows how much effort you put in moulding it, great work!

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  6. So super cute! I love tau sar pau...and these cuties make me crave for them now :)

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  7. The little pigs are adorable! Steamed buns are one of those things that I always buy from the store but I might just have to give them a go seeing as how cute yours turn out. Thanks for sharing the recipe, HHB!

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  8. wow, your piggies buns are so lovely.

    Great job HBB!

    I will put this down in my next to-do list.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Wong

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  9. Oh my gosh!!!! They are so so gorgeous HHB!!! They are so white too. Just my two cents, you can add a dash of vinegar into the steaming water and it will make the pau even whiter but I doubt you need it! And the craters, could be either water droplets from the cover of your wok or you remove the bun form the steamer too quickly and temperature difference was too big then. I love love love, exceptionally love the pig one!!!!

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  10. Hiii....
    Nice blog....Nice presentation...I like it

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  11. Hi HBB,
    The shaping of the bao into mini animals made the bao even tastier and nicer! Thanks for the careful explanation and the recipe!

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  12. Hi
    These are too cute to be eaten lei...veri nice and can smell the soft bun pipiing hot taste.

    What did you use for the eyes?

    Cute!

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  13. forgot to ask. where you bot the red been paste? PH?

    Thanks

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  14. so cute.. the piggies has tails!! I love red bean.. this looks really yummy.. I want some too..

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  15. Wow! I will try this one day. Thank you for the recipe. I have a question regarding seiving the flour. Is it necessary to seive flour for bread making? When you didn't mention seive flour means no need to sieve? Thank you!

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  16. Hi, i really appreciate all the details you provided cos it gives me the courage to try too! So making paus will be my next adventure. How did the paus taste overnight? I'm also thinking when you hv your leftover pineapple paste, you can make pineapple paste pau! What do u think :)
    May

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  17. Hi HHB, I thought they look like little mice too! Never mind if they don't look like rabbits, you can always try them next year - rabbit year). I've never tried making chinese buns before too. Is it a must to steam on a rack, plates and baking pans can't work?

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  18. looks so good! i gotta try it soon..like you i've been wanting to make chinese buns but didn't want to make too many!

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  19. Hi Baking Fiend, the 2nd proofing time is more important, over proofing will cause the buns to collapse, under proofing, the buns will shrink.

    Hi MH, I have not seen butterfly mantou, it must be very difficult to shape, next time I may try porcupine, just need to make many snips on the buns :)

    Hi cusinera, I hope you can get Hong Kong flour which is bleached, the buns will be whiter compared to those made with plain flour.

    Hi Grace, I think the buns are yellow mainly due to the type of flour used. If you use pau floor, it should be ok. The other thing could be too much baking powder is used. Also kneading the dough till it becomes elastic and past the pane test would also help to produce whiter buns.

    Hi Quinn, I read about adding the vinegar in the steaming water, covering the lid with cloth, and remove the lid slowly to prevent a sudden exchange of temperature. I didn't cover the lid with a cloth, as I don't have such a big piece of cloth ;) and I couldn't remove the lid too slowly otherwise all the water droplets would drop onto the buns! I am still looking for a solution to this.

    Hi Irene, I used black sesame seeds for the eyes, and yes I got the paste from PH.

    TracieMoo, I added in the tails so that my kids won't have the chance to say they are some other animals ;p

    Jasmine, for most bread making, it is not necessary to sieve the flour. If it is not stated in the recipe then it is not a must. However, for this recipe it is best to sieve the flour as I find the Hong Kong flour has got little lumps in it. Actually it is a good practice to sieve all flour before using, I once opened a brand new pack of flour and after sieving, there were many tiny insects/beetles, I had to throw away the whole pack.

    Hi May, I kept the bao in the fridge, after re-steaming, they tasted just as soft and fluffy. I have never thot of using pineapple paste to make bao, how interesting! btw, I cooked the pineapple jam last night :)

    Hi SSB, I use my wok as a steamer. Just like steaming fish (plate place over a metal rack/legs) in a wok. However, instead of a normal plate (for steaming fish), I placed the buns on a steam rack...a round metal disc with holes on it (can get from provision shops in wet market). If you use a normal plate, due to water condensation, the buns will be sitting on a plate of water. I'm thinking, maybe if your cooling rack (for cooling biscuits) can fit in your wok, and provided it is heat resistant, can use it also?

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  20. Hi HHB,

    you've just totally inspired me to try out these buns! I was always afraid venturing into asian/chinese pastries cos not many blogs seem to have well documented recipes unlike the typical "ang moh" desserts. Now, armed with your encouragment and recipe, i am gonna embark on making desserts that taste closer to Home! hahahah

    THANKS! =D

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  21. Lovely! Lovely! Lovely! The little rabbirt and piglet that u made are simply lovely and the texture look very fluffy too. Can't believe this is your first attempt.

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  22. Hey HHB,

    I love your Baos. looks so yummy and soft! WIll definitely try your recipe one day. There are too many things I want to make, especially after seeing others bloggers' recent works. But now got to start maiking my CNY cookies..... and pack for our holidays on CNY. Hope I will have enough time to do all the things I wish to.

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  23. HHB, you finally get your hands on making baos & mantous! See, I've told you! You can make just about anything! The buns look so perfect!

    However, though I myself am not a pro at this, I'd like to share with my thoughts. Whenever I knead dough for Chinese steamed buns, it usually doesn't take me super long time as the dough itself isn't overly sticky/wet. I just need it till 三光 have been achieved, i.e. 手光, 盆光 & 麵光. It's a different story from bread making, we need not knead till the windowpane stage and whatnot. I also let it proof twice, usually, for 15-30 min each session. It worked, even for MH's HK-style bao dough recipe. I've never proofed my dough for this long! With regard to the zits, did you first turn off the flame or uncover the steamer upon removing the buns?

    Great post! Keep it up!

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  24. wow this bun are so cute leh. I have never made bun :P wait till i get a mixer 1st

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  25. These are just too cute. I've never had steamed buns, but it seems like they might be similar to "Germknödel", which are also steamed. I'd love to try making these. Just one question, though. Is Hong Kong pau flour just regular bleached all-purpose flour or something else entirely? And where might I be able to find it in Europe? I love your blog, btw. Your bacon cheese bread was the first bread I ever made successfully.

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  26. Hi youfei, I agree with you, there are not that many recipe books on Chinese pastries.

    Hi Cook.Bake.Love, it's a miracle ;p

    Hi Pei Lin, thanks for sharing your experience :) I have read about the 三光, since it is the first time I made these buns, I wasn't sure, so I followed the way I made bread.
    I turned off the flame, then uncover the lid slightly leaving a small gap for a few seconds, then I remove the lid. The crater could be due to the air bubbles trapped under the skin when the buns were proofing the second time. Once, the lid was removed the air could have escaped (exchange of hot/cold air), and so those spots became craters. I have yet to find out the cause of the zits...maybe it was due to the amount of heat...too hot maybe? I use medium to high, but the book says low-to-medium, which I don't agree since most recipes state steam on high.

    Simonne, you don't need a mixer to make steam buns, you can knead the dough by hand :)

    Julia, Hong Kong pau flour is different from bleached plain flour, it is meant for making buns which is very fine, it is also known as Superfine flour. Hope this helps :)

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  27. Wow... HHB, this is so lovely.... You are indeed talented in making bread and now even on bao... realli must "salute" you...... And because of your inspiration and now our family will be able(if i can success in what you did :p)to have homemade bao soon :) Thanks again

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  28. Hey, HHB! Yes, steamed buns take medium-high heat. Hmm ... You're right ... Probably the zits were actually tiny bubbles of air trapped underneath the surface of the buns. However, I leave the baos/mantous in the steamer with lid on for 5 to 10 minutes before taking them out to the sudden change in temperature from extreme heat to cold. Thanks for the insight, too! Learned something from you! =)

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  29. Those bau are fantastically cute! I never thought of bau as something to make at home, but you did such a great job with these!

    xox Sarah

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  30. Be it cat, mice, rabbit or pig, they sure look very very cute!

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  31. u sure know how to make baos look good and appetising!! ive got red bean paste from Phoon Huat and tried frying red bean pancake but failed. :( guess this is a good alternative. and looks cute! bet ur kids lurve it so much they can eat 3 at one go

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  32. The steamed buns look really cute.

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  33. So cute and so lovely!
    Yes,little bumps were actually caused by tiny bubbles of air trapped underneath the surface of the buns.包子表皮有点坑坑洞洞,是因为用手擀面团的方式,没办法将空气完全排出。可使用压面机,反复地多压面团几次后,才包馅料。压之前适量洒些粉,才不会沾黏在机器上。还有,用木制蒸笼蒸包,效果会更好,因为不容易有水蒸气结成水珠滴落,

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  34. Hi HHB
    You mentioned that you steamed the buns on the steam rack (those with holes). I presume water won't go into the buns as the bottom of the buns are lined with "steam paper". Correct me if I am wrong.

    : )

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  35. OMG!!! These are too cute to eat! *drooling* I'm sure my kids will ask me to make if they see this. I better hide this post. LOL!

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  36. Your steam buns are so beautiful! I ever made it once but my buns had a very rough texture. Not smooth like yours. You are always so creative your bakes. ;)

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  37. Adorable beyond words! You're an artist. :)

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  38. If I can't get Superfine Flour here in London, can I simply improvise by whizzing plain flour to a superfine texture using a food processor? And even if that gives me a Superfine Flour substitute, will I get white buns like yours as the substitute, which is still plain flour, is unbleached? Hope you can help me there. Thanks. PS - Sorry I'm anonymous as I haven't a blog. No time!

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  39. Hi Missy, I am thinking of making red bean pancake (Chinese style) too! Wish me luck :)

    Thanks PY, I hope I can do a better job the next time :D

    Hi Irene's Footprints, yes, water won't get into the buns, but not because of the paper(which prevents buns from sticking to the rack), you have to make sure the water is below the steam rack so that the bottom of the buns will not get wet.

    Thanks Aimei, WF and Ju :):)

    Hi Anonymous, I don't think you can get superfine flour by using a food processor. The other name for superfine flour is Superlite flour, they are the same. Maybe you can try look for it at Asian grocery stores in London? If not, you can use plain flour, if it is bleached, the buns will be off white, for unbleached flour, it will be yellowish. Hope this helps :)

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  40. Hi HHB
    Not so sure how to ensure water don't touches the steam rack? We filled the wok with water and place the rack on it...unless you are using a pair of chopsticks to lift out the steam space...

    erhhh...right bo?

    : )

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  41. Thanks very much for your prompt reply! To be honest, I didn't think I would get a reply at all as my questions to food bloggers in the past haven't, by and large, elicited replies, so, thanks, you've restored my faith in food bloggers! I shall look for Superlite flour the next time I'm in a Chinese grocery store.

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  42. Hi Irene's Footprints, sorry I am not good with words must have confused you ;p
    ok, here's how I do it:
    I use my wok, place a metal 'stand' in it (you know those stand that is round and has got 3 legs?) then fill the wok with water. When the water is boiling and the buns ready, I place the buns on the steam rack (a round metal disc/plate with holes on it) and place the rack on the metal 'stand' and steam. You know what I mean? If not I will take photo to show you.

    Hi Anonymous, I hope you can get the flour, do drop me a note after you have tried it :)

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  43. Hi HHB,
    Is the red bean paste u used the same as the one used for making mooncakes? ie comes in 1kg plastic bag?

    Celia

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  44. Hi HHB...

    I got it....will experiment it. Next time you do this...snap a pic for me then!

    I have to visit your site daily to check on new stuff/recipe!

    Thanks!

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  45. Hi HBB,
    these are super-cute... and the cats, oh I love cats! Happy New Year to you and all your family
    kisses
    Martina

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  46. looking too cute! gonna try this recipe tomorrow, fortunately i have 500gr HK flour now, LOL! thanks for sharing, hope mine will be like yours! cheers~
    YooLee

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  47. Hi Celia, yes that's the one :)

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  48. These look so creative! The usual steam buns I get are just a lump of dough with filling inside. Makes me want to make them myself.

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  49. Lovely looking baos! I'm super envious of anyone who bakjes a batch of homemade baos because you get to control how much filling you want in yours! And mine would have alot.

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  50. Hi, HHH. If I am not mistaken,the type of flour used for making Chinese bun or "Bao" is actually low protein flour.Right ? But I do not know why the bakery store in my home town named it as " Bao flour ". May be beside low protein flour, other ingredients are being added ? Sometimes I use this type of flour to make chiffon cake.

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  51. Hi PY, yes low protein flour is used for making Chinese bao. The Bao flour is specially treated so that the buns will be whiter, and the flour is softer to yield fluffy and soft texture.

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  52. hi
    please take some pictues about the steaming part next time. cute work!


    Lala

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  53. Hi, Thanks for the great recipe!! Made them today and they were just superb! Check out my "ugly looking" pau here
    www.the-homemaker.blogspot.com/2010/02/steamed-buns-pau.html

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  54. Oh, I could have kissed you! This must be one of the best tasting home made paus I have ever made. They remain edible even when cold unlike some skin which will turn rock hard.

    As I am lazy and didn’t want to miss my tv programme last nite, I didn’t try my hands at shaping them like bunnies or piggies. I even let my BM do the kneading, tending to the dough only after the programme finished.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll be making a lot more of these.

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  55. Hi nyonya, I am glad this recipe works well for you. It was the first time I tried making paus so I am not able to make comparison, thanks for trying this recipe, now I know it is a keeper :)

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  56. Hi,

    I've been looking for pau recipe for ages but just couldn't find a soft one, until I come across your blog.

    Same as nyonya, I also let the BM do the kneading and the paus taste so so so good, extremely soft.

    Would like to say thank you so so much for sharing this recipe ^_^

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  57. Hi, when do I make the mouse ears? Just before steaming the baos or immediately after wrapping the read bean paste in the dough? Thanks!

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  58. Hi The Experimental Cook, it is done just after wrapping the red bean paste.

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  59. These are so adorable!
    I've eaten frozen steamed buns and they were horrible! I really wish I could try some authentic steamed buns once but never found a recipe for them. Now I can try to make them :)

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  60. OMIWORD! The little piggies are adorable! By far the best 'animal-shaped' bao I have seen!
    I get put off by vast quantities of bao made in a recipe too! I have since found one which uses baking powder but no yeast as I find sometimes the bao can have too much of a yeasty/fermenty flavour.

    Only problem I have in UK is finding a lovely white flour - HK flour is not available. Bao's made with the UK supermarket flours turn out yellow - not fluffy white buns like from the dimsum restaurants.

    I will try your recipe though!

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  61. Hi! dear HHB!
    I'd actually tried making my buns once using another recipe which yields for more oil, yeast and uses icing sugar for the dough. But when i tried steaming the buns, the buns wouldnt even rise and the outcome of it became like a 水晶包.. I'm not sure if its got anything to do with my yeast but the expiry date is end of this 2010! When i mix my yeast with water, it wouldn't bubble like usual. And i realise my dough wouldn't really rise up as much. I used RedMan's instant dry yeast. Is there any brand of yeast that you could recommend me to?

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  62. Hi HBB,
    Thanks fir ur recipe! It's great! I jus try out! N succeed! My kids n hubby love it so much! Thanks!
    How do u make them to such a lovely shape?? My kid try to shape them but after proofing the shape seem gone...
    Hope u can give more details in how u shape them into pig n mouse... ;)
    thanks so much!

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  63. Hi jisushikax33, I use instant yeast by this brand "Bake King'. Maybe you can try with a fresh pack of instant yeast, as even though the expiry day is till quite far away, once opened, the yeast will not work well, and you need to keep it in the fridge.

    Hi easycookmama, for the rabbit (mouse), I simply shape it into rounds, then snip the ears with a scissors. As for the pigs, I shape them into rounds, make three small rounds for the ears and nose and stick (wet it with a little water) them onto the round dough. There is no special technics involved. It also happens to mine, after steaming, the details were not as distinct, see the comparison photos of the piggy above.

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  64. Hi! I love your little Piggies. I tried baking Piggies too but their noses kept sliding off! How do you make them stay? Super glue? :D

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  65. Hi Fun, I just dab it with a little bit of water.

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  66. I did, I did! Somehow water didn't do the trick. I'll keep you posted on future attempts. Thanks! I love your blog. Keep up the great work.

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  67. Hi Happy Homemaker

    I love your post, especially those animals cookies, they really make me smile each time i look at them.

    I would like to share with you 2 tips on the "Bunny Buns" :
    1) Snip off the ears and tail AFTER steaming
    2) Use edible red color to make to "dot" as the bunny's eyes instead of sesame seeds.

    Great post!!! Keep it up!!!

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  68. Hi HHB~

    I have searched so many times for this "Hong Kong Pau" flour, but I just can't seem to find it. Then I read in one of your replied comments that it is also called "Superfine" flour. I have never heard of superfine flour, nor have I seen it in stores labeled as such. Do you think it is the same as cake flour? I'm unsure of the protein content, etc in Hong Kong pau flour so I cannot compare :/

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  69. Hi, cake flour is not the same as Hong Kong pau flour. If you use cake flour, the pau will not be white. Not sure whether you are able to get flour by this brand Prima? If yes, look for the SuperLite Flour or visit their website here: (http://www.prima.com.sg/primaflour/household/prod_pr_flour2.htm#5) or this other brand BakeKing (Hong Kong flour), or this brand Bluekey (Pau Flour).

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  70. Thanks for the wonderful recipe! Just made it with char siew filling and the skin is great! The only problem is I just can't get the skin to wrap nicely...same problem as my mooncakes. Sigh. Any tips on how to wrap the pau nicely? Thanks!

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  71. Dear HHB,

    These are super cute animal baos! Thanks for sharing. May you tell me how you measure
    - 3g baking powder
    - 3g instant yeast

    My digital weighing scale is not sensitive for such little amount. Can you tell me the measurement in teaspoon. Thanks. :-D

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  72. Hi Lai Har, 3g baking powder is about half a teaspoon; 3g instant yeast is about 3/4 teaspoon. Hope this helps :)

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  73. Hello HHB, thanks for the speedy reply. What brand of yeast did you use? The bao looked white leh. You think Sunflower brand HK bao flour works too? This is the common one I found in grocery shops in AMK. Do you think if kneading too long in step 2 will affect the proofing in step 3? Xie xie :-D

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  74. Lai Har, I use Bake King's instant yeast. You can use any HK bao flour. As I have limited knowledge on making bao, I am not sure whether kneading too long will affect the proofing. Whereas for making bread, a well kneaded dough will proof better.

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  75. Hi HHB,
    I have a copy of the 三杯面粉 book too, one thing that puzzles me about her bun dough recipe, is that it specifies 'cold water/milk'as an ingredient. I thought when it comes to bun making, warm water should be used to activate the yeast and not cold water. Out of all the bun recipes I've come across, hers is the only one that uses cold water.
    Have you tried any of the other recipes in her book?

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  76. Ally, I have not tried the other recipes. Some bread recipes do recommend using cold water...especially if the dough is kneaded by breadmachine as the heat may raise the dough temperature. Most f the time I use room temperature water.

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  77. Wow these look amazing! Good job! :)

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  78. Hello HHB

    I like to know how come u do not need to dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water and let yeast mixture activate before adding flour and oil/shortening to knead.
    What is the difference between yeast dissolves in lukewarm water and yeast dissolves in room temp as in your method above and what will the outcome of the finished products be in term of the taste and texture and which will last longer?
    Thank you and await your reply.

    Best rgds
    Priscilla Poh

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  79. Hi Priscilla, there are different types of yeast. I am using Instant Yeast, which can be mixed directly with the other ingredients without having to dissolve it in warm water. If you are using Active dry yeast, than according to the instructions on the package, you will need to dissolve it in warm water before using. You can read about the different types of yeast here: http://www.baking911.com/pantry/leaveners_yeast.htm and here: http://www.joyofbaking.com/Yeast.html
    The texture will not be too different, but I have read that if you are using fresh yeast, the bread will have better flavour. But fresh yeast is not that easily available here.
    Hopes this helps.

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  80. Dear HHB
    Thanks very much for your swift response. I am a novice in pau making I made paus last wk n applied the proofing method, ie. I let yeast mixture stand for 1 hr b/4 adding flour to knead. The resulted paus rapidly turned hard and the paus were totally not soft at all 5 mins after steamed and I threw all away.
    After reading ur reply this AM, I may conclude it cud be that my method was wrong. Ur method of in "Fun with steamed buns" should be the one I shud employ as mine was dry baker yeast and the package stated that "add directly to flour" which I did not pay attn prior to making the paus. I tot all pau methods in the yeast proofing part are the same, ie. disolves yeast n sugar mixture first. How wrong was I. I shall use your above recipe to make my next batch of paus and let u know of the results.

    Thank u so much again.

    Blessings
    Priscilla Poh

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  81. Hi Priscilla, I hope you have fun making these paus :):)

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  82. Hi,

    Where to get the base paper?

    Thanks!

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  83. Hi I used grease proof paper which I got from Phoon Huat.

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  84. Can I use regular cake or bread flour for the steam buns?Which of the two kinds of flour is better ?

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  85. Hi for making pau, it is best to use Hong Kong flour. You can try replace it with plain or cake flour but I don't know whether the texture will be affected. Do note that the colour of the buns will not be as white.

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  86. I didn't have a real steamer either, and I made my own out of a disposable aluminum pie tin. I just poked a lot of holes in the back with a sharp knife and set the whole thing upside down in the bottom of my wok. Then I filled the bottom of the wok with water, put my buns on the top, and put some aluminum foil over the top of the wok. It worked perfectly!

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  87. Just to say hi.. came across your blog when searching for steamed pao if there is any other recipes and tips to have soft pao ;-)
    Have been making steamed pao a few times but wonder today just no luck in making soft pao as its turned out hard.. Sob~
    Glad that found your blog ^^

    Regards,
    ~Ting

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  88. Hi Ting, I followed this recipe from the cookbook and it turns out soft and nice even though it was my very first attempt at making pao. You may want to give this recipe a try, hope you have luck with it :)

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  89. Hi its me again ;-) yes for sure will gonna try your recipe.. the pao picture you posted just looked so great and delicious ^^
    Before trying, I must find out what went wrong in my previous few batches of the dough.. and I just found out that my yeast in my cupboard is actually no longer working after testing it (phew~ what a relief!)
    I will make one batch tomorrow again - please wish me luck!.. hehehe..

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  90. Hi, great to know that you have found the cause of the problem. I use Instant Yeast, which doesnt requires dissolving in water to activate it. If you are using Active Dry Yeast, you will need to follow the instructions in the package.

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  91. Hi HHB,

    I made this bun today and it was a successful first attempt :D The texture of the pau is fluffy & springy :) However, the kneading part is quite tedious due to the dough is very sticky. Do u think i can use the mixer with hood attachment to do the kneading?

    Best regards,
    Chilliqueen

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  92. Hi Chilliqueen, I dont have a stand mixer, but I think shouldn't be a problem to use it to knead the dough.

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  93. Hi,
    I tried making buns according to your recipe and it was a success!! Thank you for sharing your recipe, and your instructions are great, very precise and helpful for a beginner like me :)

    Btw, just wondering if you have any recipe for making those steamed custard buns (liu sha bao) with a liquid filling? If you have any advice for making those, please do share!! Thank you :) :)

    Regards,
    Liushabao fan :P

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  94. Hi, glad to hear that your steamed buns turn out great :) I am sorry I have not made any custard buns, but I am sure you can find recipes from other bloggers, good luck!

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  95. Those buns are soooo cute.

    I've been trying to get that fluffiness + whiteness in the buns and I understand that the Hong Kong/superfine flour would be the result to my problem. However, I don't know where I can get that flour in Brisbane, Australia.

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  96. Hi Anh, maybe you can try look for HK flour in asian stores?

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  97. How to make the bun white in color like those that are sold commercially. I realized home made are always yellowish in color. Does adding artificial vinegar helps to make the bun whiter in color. Thks for any tips.

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  98. Hi Eillron Goh, I used Hong Kong pau flour, the skin is not very yellowish. I am sorry I do not know about using vinegar to make the bun whiter...

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  99. I am so going to make these. Thanks for sharing!

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  100. Hi.. I love your bun.. So cute..! Anyway I tried the recipe today but end up the bun became chewy rather than fluffy.. :(

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  101. Hi, not sure what went wrong...did the dough rise?

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  102. Affair with bakers: I think is u knead too long the dough or u use the wrong flour... last time my bao become chewy but this time is so fluffy. Because I follow the exactly time to make the dough v my bread maker & I buy the right flour (bao flour). Last time ppl tell me use the high protein flour & I knead the bao with v bread maker follow the timing set by the mfg. Today I steamed the bao is so fluffy & light but the bao skin got wrinkle.

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  103. Hi Grace, thanks for your comments :)
    I think the bao skin wrinkles could either be due to droplets of water dripping onto the buns while steaming...or the buns were subjected to a sudden change in temperature, so remove the lid slowly and gently. Hope this helps :)

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  104. Hi HHM, do u mean during proofing time? Yes it did.

    Hi Grace, Thanks for the info. I'm using Hong Kong flour.. So I guess should be the knead part as what you said

    Thanks guys.. Will try it again. :) however in the end I decided to fry the bun and somehow it became similar to 水煎包 (not sure if it is what it's called)

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  105. Hi, may I I know how to punch down the dough? Thanks!

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  106. Hi ai li, 'punch down' refers to a term used in bread making...it means knocking down the dough (after the 1st rise) with your fist to deflate it and press out any air bubbles inside the dough. You may google for this term to learn more about this. Hope this helps.

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  107. Hi Happy Homebaker,

    I chanced upon your blog and decided to try making pau as you did. Followed your instructions and everything was good except the shaping into bunny part.

    I couldn't get it to have the tear drop shape and somehow as I was shaping it, the external skin wasn't as smooth as I would like it to be.

    Another thing was the size of the bun turned out to be huge based on the 40g dough : 20 g paste. After the first few, I decided to reduce the ratio to 30g:20g.

    My bunnies became very distorted after I allowed it to proof for 20 mins after shaping :(

    Do share you to make it cute.

    Taste wise, it was very fluffy which was good.

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  108. Hi Shawn, shaping the steamed buns is just like shaping bread buns. I have prior experience shaping bread buns so I was able to make the skin smooth. There is this technique of smoothing the round dough by rolling it on a work surface. As for the tear shape, it is done by smoothing/rolling one end of the wrapped dough. You may google for video clips on how to wrap and shape bread buns to get an idea. I didn't do a good job shaping too...the bunnies looked more like mice ;)

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  109. Hi! How did you make the bun so white. I've tried making steamed buns before, but it didnt yield the same whiteness. I used all purpose flour.

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  110. Hi, you need to use pau flour or hong kong flour.

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  111. Hi HHB,

    I'm so inspired by you! Your piggies and bunnies look so cute!

    Can I check with you if I can make the bun dough using a breadmachine? Mine is a small breadmachine (Zojirushi) that makes a 1 pound bread loaf. Can I use the same proportion of your ingredients?

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  112. Hi, you can use your bread machine to knead the dough. I am not sure about the proportion for your machine...maybe u can compare the flour amount with your other bread machine recipes?

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  113. Hi, i was wondering, can i make the bao dough first, and use it the next day? As i would like to make it for a test, and would not be able to make the dough on the spot. So, i am planning to make the skin dough the night before the test, and make the filling,wrap it, and steam it during the test, is it possible? Will it affect the skin texture or spoil it?

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  114. Hi, I have not left the dough over night so I am not able to comment on this.

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  115. Hi, does anyone know where to get Hong Kong flour in the UK, thanks.

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  116. Hi HH, Your bao looks awesome and inspired me instantly to try making it. However, mine came out yellowish (using HK Bao flour)and the dough is not fluffy and soft as yours although it is edible :( Was using hand kneading the dough.

    Plan to try making it till I get it right.

    Do you think I over knead the dough cause I kneaded it for more than 15 mins and I did not get the thin membrane. And may I use my Kenwood mixer to do it ? Please help !!:(

    Berries

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  117. Hi Berries, I don't think you have over knead the dough, I spent at least 30mins to knead dough by hand. It is more likely that you have not knead the dough well enough as the buns are not as fluffy or soft. It is not really possible to over knead dough by hand...

    You can always use your mixer to knead as long as it can be used to knead dough. hope this helps and wish you success in your next attempt :)

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  118. Why is my bao taste sourly ?

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  119. Hi HH, Thank you so much for your reply and advice :) Will definitely try again :)

    Berries

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  120. Hi, not sure what us the cause. It could be the yeast? Did u over proof the dough.

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  121. Hi HH,

    Tried making again and I used my mixer to knead the dough. this time manage to get the soft and fluffy textures. I am happy. Thank you. However, need to seek your advice. After shaping the dough and proofing, instead of steaming them immediately, can I keep them in the fridge and steam them only the next day ?

    Thanks and best regards
    Berries

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  122. Hi Berries, great to hear that it turns out well this time. I have not tried leaving the dough overnight so I'm not able to comment on this.

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  123. Do I make it the same way if I'm going to use Active Dry Yeast, or should I add the yeast to the water and sugar first?

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  124. Hi Angela, yes you will need to activate the active dry yeast before using.

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  125. Hi HHB,

    Thank you for the wonderful instructions! It's been a pleasure reading your blog.

    I have made 包 in the past with Hong Kong flour when I was in Singapore and all-purpose flour while in Canada. Both turned out slightly yellow and chewy somehow. I suspect it's due to the lack of a leavening agent, which I will add in my next attempt.

    My question to you is, I cannot find 包粉 where I am. What type of flour is the closest to 包粉 or Hong Kong flour?

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  126. Hi Eivu luvie, thanks for reading :)

    I am not sure, but maybe, the chewy texture could be due to the higher protein level of the flour you used...

    You can try substitute with Low protein Bleached all purpose flour.
    I googled and found that this brand White Lily's all purpose flour has about 8% protein level and it is bleached. It will be a close substitute to pao flour/HK flour. (http://www.whitelily.com/Products/Category.aspx?categoryId=305) I hope you are able to get it in Canada.

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  127. Hi, can I make the buns the day before for steaming in the morning? Please let me know if it's OK to store in the fridge and how long I should let the buns rise for before steaming? Also, can I steam them on a plate in a wok? I don't have a bamboo steamer. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, I have not tried this, but for steamed buns, it is best to steam right after the buns are have risen. Maybe you can steam the buns the day before and keep them in an air tight container and leave to chill in the fridge. The next morning, steam again to reheat before serving. You need not use a bamboo steamer, you can steam on a plate in a wok. Hope this helps.

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