A couple of weeks ago, while visiting my neighbourhood Asian supermarket, I saw a few bags of 5kg special white flour on their shelf. Now this is a rare occasion as they usually only carry even bigger bags of this flour for commercial buyers. So I grabbed a bag (selling for AUD$10 per 5kg-bag) so I could make steamed buns with whiter dough.
This is just one version of the generic dough for the Chinese steamed buns. Here I have chosen to use instant yeast to make the dough which is faster and quicker than the traditionally way of using a starter dough.
This dough can be used to make basic plain steamed buns (e.g. mantou, silver-thread rolls, etc.), or filled steamed buns (e.g. sweet buns like red-bean paste buns, or savoury buns like pork buns or vegetable buns, etc.). Please note that this dough is not the Cantonese-style pau dough for making char siew pau.
Makes approx. 12 to 20 steamed buns, depending on size
2 1/2 cups (375g) special white flour *
1 1/2 teaspoons double-action baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
200ml lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
2 teaspoons lard, or canola oil
Baking paper, or patty-tin paper cases
* Use normal plain flour if special white flour is unavailable, but the resultant steamed buns will be yellowish in colour.
1. If you are using the baking paper as bases for the steamed buns, cut the paper into rounds about 8cm in diameter (20 pieces for standard-size buns, or 12 pieces for bigger buns). Set aside.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and stir into the flour mixture; mixing well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes, adjust with more flour or water if the dough feels too wet or too dry.
3. Knead in lard or oil until incorporated. Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months).
4. Punch down, knead briefly and form into a rough log shape. Then divide the dough into 30g each (should get about 20 pieces) or 50g each (should get about 12 pieces). Form each piece into balls and let rest for 15 minutes, covered loosely with cling film.
5. Shape and/or fill the dough pieces according to the steamed buns you want to make. Place each bun on a piece of the prepared baking paper round, or patty-tin paper case. Cover the bun doughs loosely with cling film, and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until they feel puffy and airy.
6. In the meantime, start boiling water in a steamer, adding about 1 teaspoon white vinegar (this is optional, but wisdom is that it will help to whiten the colour of the buns) to the water.
7. Steam the buns for about 10 minutes (for smaller standard-size buns) to 15 minutes (for larger buns) over moderate heat. Serve hot.
Comparison of the pau sizes from just after shaping to after steaming (excuse the mis-shaped pau as I was learning to wrap/shape the dough with a small opening on top).
Pic #1: The finished pau after shaping and ready for final rise before steaming.
Pic #2: The pau after rising for 30 minutes, they have become puffy and airy.
Pic #3: The pau after steaming.
Here’s a tutorial I found on YouTube showing how to fold/crimp the pastry for sealing the pau.
Taste: Billowy soft and fluffy steamed buns
Consume: Best within one week
Storage: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator, re-steam until hot before serving
Recipe References: –