Before I began my adventure with chiffons, I was on a mission to find the best bao (steamed bun) skin recipe. This is my second time using this recipe and I love it! I decided to kick start a new year with rainbow piggy char siew baos, partly because we had some left over char siew from dinner the day before. Here's my set of mini piggy baos :)
I adapted the bao skin recipe from Guai Shu Shu with some modifications. I love it for it's simplicity (straight dough method), mild sweet taste and soft fluffy texture. I used the recipe from Rasa Malaysia for the char siew filling.
Ingredients for bao skin:
200g Hong Kong Bao flour
35g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1/5 tsp double acting baking powder dissolved in 1 tsp of water
1 1/4 tsp dry yeast
122g water (warm water is not a necessity)
14g vegetable shortening
1. Mix all dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt and yeast) together in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
2. Pour water into the well and use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together until well combined and a dough is formed. Pour out the dough onto a non-stick mat or lightly floured clean work surface and hand knead for 5 minutes (or you may use a stand mixer or breadmaker to help you do all the kneading but I prefer to knead by hand). Add in dissolved baking powder 1/4 tsp at a time and knead until it is absorbed into the dough. Stir the baking powder mixture as the powder tends to settle to the bottom after a while. Knead for another 5 minutes after all the baking powder has been added.
3. Knead the vegetable shortening into the dough in a few additions, making sure that the shortening is absorbed into the dough before adding more. After all the shortening has been added, knead for another 15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test.
4. Let the dough rest in a lightly greased bowl covered with cling wrap for about 30 minutes or double in size. Punch down the dough and knead a few times to release any trapped air.
5. Try to work quickly from this point onwards when portioning and wrapping the buns, keeping any resting portions covered loosely with cling wrap. Lightly flour work surface and hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Take about 1/5 of the dough and divide it into 6 portions, coloring each portion with the colors of the rainbow (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple). Portion the rest of the uncolored dough for the pigs' heads. I chose to make super mini baos so I only used 16g worth of dough for each pig. You may make bigger buns using 30g of dough for medium sized ones or up to 50g or more of dough for big buns.
6. Use a small rolling pin or your hands to flatten the ball of dough before adding the filling. Make the edges thinner than the center of the dough. Pinch seal the dough after wrapping with filling and place the pinched side down on a small piece of baking sheet. Pinch a bit of colored dough to make the snout of the pig, using a toothpick to shape the nostrils. Attach the snout to the center of the pig's face. Pinch a bit of colored dough and shape into small triangles for the pig's ears. Attach black sesame seeds onto the pig's face for the eyes. Use a toothpick to press the seed into the dough to secure it.
7. Place the wrapped buns in a steaming basket and cover them loosely with cling wrap to prevent them from drying out. Proof for 30 minutes.
8. While the buns are proofing, prepare a wok or steamer for steaming. Make sure the water is boiling before putting the buns in to steam. Steam small buns (30g or less of dough) for 10-12 minutes and larger buns (50g or more of dough) for 15 minutes at medium heat. Turn off the heat and let the buns rest for 5 minutes before removing the lid.
9. Steamed buns are best eaten freshly steamed. If you are not consuming them immediately, store them in an airtight container after they have cooled down completely before freezing them. When you want to consume the stored buns, re-steam them for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your buns) straight from the freezer. They will taste just as good as freshly steamed buns :).
Here's a peek at the insides of the char siew bao!