To continue with the making of Chinese flaky pastry, this is one of the most common and recognisable pastry puffs, translated literally as ‘Wife’s Flatbread’ or ‘Lou Poh Paeng’ (老婆餅) in Cantonese. It is actually a flaky pastry filled with sweet winter melon filling. There is also a savoury version known as ‘Lou Kong Paeng’ (老公餅) or ‘Husband’s Flatbread’ which is less common, although I have never tasted this savoury version myself.
The Water Dough pastry for the following recipe uses bread flour to produce a crispy, flaky texture which is slightly different from the crumbly, flaky texture of some other Chinese flaky pastries. It reminded me of the crispiness of the Beh Teh Soh (馬蹄酥 or Heong Paeng 香餅) and Tau Sar Piah (豆沙餅) pastries of Ipoh. I will certainly try to remember to use bread flour to make the pastry of either one of them next time.
This recipe has a nearly 1 : 1 ratio of pastry and filling. Therefore it might be difficult for beginners to wrap. If you are making Chinese pastry for the very first time and want to make wrapping easier, I would recommend reducing the filling quantity to 3/4 amount (that is multiplying all ingredients of filling by 0.75). This way you have a larger pastry dough piece to wrap a smaller filling piece, once you are confident then you can use the full amount next time.
Makes approx. 14 pieces
Chinese Flaky Pastry:
70g bread flour
70g plain flour
25g caster sugar
55g lard or shortening
70ml water, adjust as necessary
70g cake flour
35g lard or shortening
1 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
Winter Melon Filling:
200g candied winter melon 糖冬瓜
20g (1 1/2 tablespoons) white sesame seeds
30g (1 1/2 tablespoons) caster sugar
40g (4 tablespoons) cooked glutinous rice flour 糕粉
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
Candied Winter Melon 糖冬瓜
Winter Melon Filling:
1. Dry roast sesame seeds over moderate heat in a frying pan for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly brown. Cool then grind into powder using a mortar and pestle.
2. Finely chop the candied winter melon, or blend in a food processor (if using food processor, add toasted sesame seeds and blend together with candied winter melon). Add ground sesame seeds, sugar, cooked glutinous rice flour and salt. Stir in oil.
3. Gradually add water and knead the filling to form a slightly sticky dough.
4. Divide the filling into 14 equal portions, cover and set aside while preparing the Chinese flaky pastry.
Winter Melon Filling 糖冬瓜餡
Chinese Flaky Pastry:
1. For the Water Dough: Put both types of flour, sugar and lard in a mixing bowl, mix briefly to incorporate the lard. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before using.
2. For the Lard Dough: Rub lard into the flour and then knead into a soft dough. If it is too soft, chill in the refrigerator to harden a bit. If it is too hard, knead it a bit more until you get soft dough about the same pliability as the water dough. It is important that the malleability of the lard dough should be about the same as the water dough when making the Chinese flaky pastry.
3. Divide the water dough and the lard dough respectively into 14 equal portions each and round them all into small balls.
4. Follow the preparation of the Hidden-Layering Flaky Pastry as shown in Huaiyang Flaky Pastry up to step 16.
5. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
6. With the heel of your palm, gently press the filled dough down to flatten it lightly. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a flat circle, making sure not to roll too thin as to squeeze out the filling.
7. Prick the surface with the tines of a fork (or more traditionally use a knife to cut two slits on the surface) to allow steam to escape during baking.
Option 1: Prick surface with fork.
Option 2: Cut two slits with knife.
8. Arrange the pastry apart on the lined baking sheet. Eggwash the surface of each pastry.
9. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown in colour.
Taste: Crispy, flaky pastry with a sweet melon filling
Consume: Best within a week
Storage: Store in airtight container at room temperature, or in the refrigerator in tropical countries
Recipe References: ‘千層老婆餅’ recipe, hand-copied recipe from an unknown source