I like to cook something that needs a little work to make on the weekend. Those are the things I don't usually have time to make on weekdays. Bao zi (steamed buns, 包子) is a something we love very much. The wrappers are made from dough after risen by yeast, and become so soft after steamed. The fillings can be anything, all meat, all vegetables or a mix of the two. I made both kinds. I made the wrappers for the veggie buns with vegetable juice so that they can be distinguished from the meat buns. We also invited my in-laws and sister-in-law's family to come over for lunch. My brother-in-law? Again, pursuing happiness -- the love of his life.
Wrappers (make 12 buns):
- Dough starter (old dough): 60 g all-purpose flour, 40 g water, 1/4 tsp yeast
- All purpose flour 300 g
- Sugar 20 g
- Salt 1/8 tsp
- Milk 170 g
- Instant yeast 1/2 tsp
Pork bun filling (make 12 buns):
- Ground pork 1 lb. (454 g)
- Green scallions 150 g, finely chopped
- Ginger 30-40 g, finely chopped (I use a Microplane knife)
- Season with 1 Tbsp salt and 1 Tbsp sesame oil
Veggie bun filling (make 12 buns):
- 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, diced
- 3-4 leafs of cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 medium carrot, shredded
- 1/2 dried daylily flowers (金針花)
- 1 medium black wood ear (黑木耳), shredded
- 1 five-spice tofu, diced
- 1/2 cup gluten (麵筋) pieces
- 1/3 cup fried shallots
- Season with 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp five-spice powder, 1 Tbsp sesame oil
1. The night before, make the dough starter. Mix the flour, water and instant yeast together. Lightly spray the non-stick spray on the dough surface and put it in a plastic bag or a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. (Note: The dough starter can be frozen after refrigerate overnight. Thaw the night before use in refrigerator.)
2. When ready, mix everything together in a bread machine using the "dough" function. Add 150 g milk first. If the dough can come together, do not add any more milk. (Note: For veggie buns, mix some green leafy vegetables and some milk in a blender to make the vegetable juice. Run the mix through a strainer and collect the juice. Fill it up with milk to total 170 g.)
3. Let it rise in the bread machine until double in size (about 1 hr).
4. Prepare the filling when the dough is rising.
5. Test the dough by poking a figure in. If it doesn't bounce back, it is done with the first rise.
6. Move it to the working bench. If it is too sticky to handle, add 10-20 g of flour and rub into a smooth dough. Divide evenly into 12 pieces.
7. Roll it out into a round shape wrapper.
8. Put some filling at center and seal the edges together. (see this post for instructions and pictures.)
9. Line a piece of parchment paper underneath the buns. Put them in the steamer. Cover and heat the water just until slightly warm to the touch.
10. Turn off the heat. Let the buns rise again in the steamer for another 40 minutes until the buns are puffy.
11. Steam over medium heat for 7 minutes. Lift the lid of the steamer a little and leave it slightly ajar. Steam for another 5 minutes. (I usually put chopsticks between the lid and the steamer.)
12. Turn off the heat. Leave it on the stove for another 7-8 minutes.
13. Move the entire steamer off the hot stove or move it to a cold stove, and let sit for another 3 minutes. (Note: Step 11-13 are to let the temperature in the steamer slowly getting close to the room temperature so that the buns won't shrink by the sudden cold air.)
|Veggie buns (before steaming)|
|Veggie buns (inside)|
|Pork buns (inside) -- see the juice?|