Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 2011 Daring Cooks' Challenge - Steamed Buns

December 2011 Daring Cooks' Challenge - Yum Char Steam buns and baked buns

This month's challenge was a beauty - steam buns and baked  - something that I love having at yum char (dim sum) so I was looking forward to the results. And WOW what stunning results I have to say the steamed and baked bun dough are perfection itself. The steamed/baked bun dough is extra soft, moist and so delicate I LOVED them. And the marinade for the pork is so delicious. Our hostess Sara has done a marvellous job on this challenge. Thank you so much Sara for all the work you did on this challenge.       

Recipe Source: I looked at quite a few blogs and various websites as well as referring to various cook books. Through trial and error my recipes are a slight variation. My recipe for marinade using maltose was based on Blue Apocalypse's recipe. My char sui bao filling variations was based on quite a few various sites I visited, one of those was Chinatown Connection which I used the dough recipe for the steamed buns.

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Click here for a PDF of the recipes.
Savoury chicken tofu bao steam buns

This is one of the easiest and most delicious challenges so far for me, I never would of tried this so another fabulous recipe to add to my regular rotation. Thank you so much Sara for the recipes.

Well what can I say except …. perfection … The steam bun recipe is perfect every stage of the process was effortless. The dough was a dream to work with, the kneaded dough (about 8 minutes) expanded three times in an hour, it looked so smooth and shiny and it felt so soft, slightly tacky and elastic. The dough rolled out without flour using a rolling pin. I used 1½ tablespoons of filling for each 55 gram (2 ounce) dough round that was about 7 cm (2-3/4 inch) diameter and about 5 mm (1/5 inch) thick.  Sealing of the filled dough ball was easy just press the two edges together and gather the edges and twist together to seal the bun. The balls expand dramatically in the streamer so leave a lot of space between the uncooked buns. And the taste was spot-on a delicious contrast of the salty, spicy, sweet, sour, bitter and savoury filling with the super soft and moist bun. These steamed buns were even better (better shaped with a much better tasting filling also the bun bread was much softer with a lovely moistness) than the ones in my favourite yum cha (dim sum) restaurant, these home-made buns cost about 15 cents each to make as compared to $1.50 in the restaurant. The buns were super soft and the filling was spicy and moist, and the ratio of dough to filling was exactly right. Everything was perfect I really love this recipe. I even loved the shape of the steamed buns so round and smooth.

I located some bun flour in the Asian shop but I decided I didn't want to use chlorinated (bleached) flour so I used a finely milled "OO" Italian bread flour that was naturally very white. In Australia it is almost impossible to find bleached flour except in Asian shops.  

Since my oven is still out I had to the do the steamed bun recipe (which is what I wanted anyway), for the filling I used chopped chicken leg meat (leftovers from the night before) and home-made overnight marinated (hoisin, rice wine and chilli mushroom soya sauce) savoury tofu as the protein source then I added shallots, fresh chillies, chilli powder, Kepas Manis- (Sweet soya Sauce), home made tomato sauce, rice wine, soya sauce, fish sauce, hoisin, sugar, fresh lime juice, smoked paprika, lots of Szechuan pepper, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and some shredded lime leaves super yum yum. I thickened the filling with corn flour until it was almost a paste. I really liked how the filling gleamed with vibrant colours and on tasting the filling it was packed with a punchy flavour profile real yummy.

I made a half batch (10 buns) perfect for 4 people, total cost about $1.50.

The finished bun had the perfect ratio of dough to filling, also I got an even layer of bread covering the filling (I was very pleased about the look of the interior) also notice the perfect bread texture of the bun layer so soft and moist

The 55 gram (2 ounce) dough balls waiting to be rolled out and filled

Savoury chicken tofu filling gleaming with unctuous deliciousness

The 1½ tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round waiting to be formed into a bun

The un-steamed buns

The finished steam buns notice how much they expand in the streamer and the fabulous shape they have

Close-up of the steamed bun

Hints and tips
1. Knead the dough until its pliable about 8-10 minutes and let the dough raise until it has doubled (or more) in volume.
2. The buns expand a lot when steamed so leave a lot of room I did a batch of three and they expanded even more than the ones in the photo! since they had room to really grow. Remember to use parchment paper for the bases of the buns this makes removing the buns very easy.
3. I used plain "OO" flour (11.5% protein) which is a finely milled flour which produces very soft textured pastries and breads.
4. I left out the sugar in the dough since the filling had the correct balance of hot/spicy/sweet/sour and umami (savoury).
5. The filling should be at room temperature (or fridge temperature) since a hot filling will cook the dough.
6. Seal the edges well or the filling will leak out while steaming.
7. Make the filling very flavoursome so a little goes a long way.
8. One thing I did notice was that after about 8 minutes the buns had expanded to maximum size with a beautiful smooth surface but after 12 minutes of steaming the buns had got a little smaller with a slightly roughen surface. So next time I will steam them for about 9 minutes.
9. Follow the rolling out instructions as provided they really do work. That is leave the centre of the dough round a little thicker than the edges so when the roll expands the top will not tear open.

Cantonese Hot Dog Buns

At last my oven is working again!

I thought I would do baked hot dog buns, I charred-grilled good quality organic hot dogs using the challenge recipe for the marinade. When making the buns I added extra caramelised onions, tomato sauce and mustard along with the central hot dog. The baked bun recipe provides enough dough for six buns. I really love how the hot dog and its relishes are all contained in the bun. The sweetness of the buns contrasts well with the salty/savoury filling. These are really delicious, an interesting version of the traditional open hot dog bun. My tasters were delighted with this concept. And they taste great cold also, I think I will add these to my picnic food rotation from now on.

I have posted this photo to yeastspotting .



chef_d said...

The steamed buns look delicious and the hotdog bun looks interesting. Great job!

Gayathri Kumar said...

All the versions look great and the post is quite interesting. Well Done Audax...

Ruth Ellis said...

Hotdog buns! What a fantastic idea - they look brilliant :o)

Nish said...

Fantastic effort as always! Love the sound of the filling especially the addition of the lime leaves! It sounds incredibly moreish!

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

So glad you enjoyed the challenge. I love the Cantonese hot dogs!!!

Beth M said...

Loving the hot dogs! My kids would go nuts for those!

TaGa_Luto said...

Audax...good job on this challenge and i'm not surprised ;). I thought i'd be able to do mine on time but because of so much activity at work i'm too tired to make mine but i did have my pork marinated but i had to freeze them for now.
I like the tofu idea and the hotdog.

Cher Rockwell said...

Great job on the challenge & the bonus hot dogs!

natalia said...

Ciao ! As always you made me hungry and eager to make the steamed ones ! Bravissimo Audax

Rhonda said...

I've heard of this being done with hotdogs before, how fun. I bet these would be good with just about anything stuffed in them.

Wolf said...

Lovely, lovely job like usual!

I might have to try that hot dog version sometime myself.}:P

The Garlic Press said...

Love the hot dog bun idea!

Ness [Six One and Then Some] said...

Your description of the recipe literally made my mouth water. And I love the idea of putting hotdogs in the buns - I might give that one a go :)

Sawsan@chef in disguise said...

Congrats on the oven being fixed :)
Those hotdod buns look really interesting..the dough must have complimented them hots dogs nicely

Lisa said...

As usual, you took a challenge to a whole new level. The savory chic buns and Cantonese hot dog buns fantastic! Great buns and fantastic photos!

Claudia said...

Fantastic job as always! You are inspiring, now I want to try those hot dogs in blankets of bun.

Julie said...

Oh, they look scrumptious, Audax!! I love dim sum, especially char siu bao. They remind me of a Filipino dish my mom made called siopao. I can't wait to try this out!