Flower rolls or huajuan (花捲) are common Chinese plain steamed buns made into flower shapes. Traditionally the dough piece is rolled out flat, then rolled up like Swiss roll, cut into smaller pieces and with a chopstick press and make a indentation in the centre of each roll so the two ends upturn to show the spiral resembling flowers.
Recently I chanced upon a new modern version with rosebud shapes. They looked fantastic and of course I have to try the new technique out, and here they are. Note that there is no baking powder used here as for the fluffy steamed buns I posted previouly, the reason is that due to wanting to keep good rosebud shapes, you do not want the buns to rise too much and distort their shapes.
400g special white flour, or plain flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
20g caster sugar
6g instant dry yeast
210ml lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
1/4 teaspoon strawberry paste, or a few drops red food colouring, adjust as necessary for desired hue
Baking paper, or patty-tin paper cases
1. If you are using the baking paper as bases for the steamed buns, cut the paper into rounds about 8cm in diameter. Set aside.
2. Sift flour, 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. Add colouring. 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. 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 divide into 6 equal portions of about 110g each. Form each portion into a log and divide again equally into 5 portions of about 22g each. You should end up with 30 small portions. Form each piece into a ball and let rest for about 10 minutes (depending on how fast you work, by the time you finish rounding the last portion, the first portion would have rested enough time and should be ready to be shaped), covered loosely with cling film.
5. Roll out each ball with a small rolling pin into a thin round sheet about 8cm in diameter, with the centre slightly thicker than the edges if possible. Working with 5 sheets at a time, place the first sheet nearest to you on the working surface, place the next sheet on top of the first sheet but slightly further away from you so that it covers about half of the first sheet. Repeat lining up the next three sheets in the same way until you have a row of 5 sheets. Press the sheets together lightly so they stick together.
6. Starting from the top sheet, furthest away from you, roll the row of 5 sheets towards you like a Swiss roll. Using a chopstick or a dough scraper, cut the roll in the centre into 2 equal half pieces, using a to-and-fro sawing action. Turn the pieces upright so they resemble rosebuds.
7. Place each rosebud on a piece of the prepared baking paper round, or patty-tin paper case. Cover loosely with cling film, and let rise for about 10 to 20 minutes, or until they feel just puffy. Try not to rest too long for this final rise, or the rosebud shapes might be distorted if they rise too much. In the meantime, start boiling water in a steamer.
8. Steam the rosebud buns for about 15 minutes over moderate heat. When done, turn off the heat but do not remove the lid of the steamer, and let the buns sit inside for a further 3 minutes (this is to prevent the buns from shrinking). Then remove and serve hot.
Taste: Soft, slightly chewy plain steamed buns
Consume: Best within one week
Storage: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator, re-steam until hot before serving
Recipe Reference(s): Various Chinese recipes online