I have some homemade red bean paste in the freezer at the moment (I made them because of the sudden urge to make matcha macarons with azuki white chocolate fillings) so I agreed to the request. I haven't made steamed buns for ages and I guess it's about time! Presenting my turtle baos with red bean filling and rose mantous! I took the liberty of using green tea to add some natural coloring to the buns.
The inspiration for patterning the turtle shells came at the last minute as I was staring at my little one's pink stuffed toy turtle with dark pink patterns. The buns were in the steamer by then.
I used the same recipe as I did for my rainbow piggy char siew baos but scaled all ingredients to a portion using 110g of bao flour. I colored 150g of dough with green tea paste (1tsp of green tea mixed with some water to form a paste) and left the rest uncolored. I proofed the colored and plain dough separately. Being a busy mum meant that sometimes it is hard to control the proofing time. My dough ended up proofing until it tripled in size! This portion of dough is just enough to make 4 turtle red bean buns and 4 plain rose mantous.
Begin making the turtle buns by portioning the plain dough, green dough and red bean paste as shown in the picture below. Weight of each ball:
Red bean paste: 23g (You may want to use store-bought ones for convenience. If you made your own like me, it may be better to add a bit of oil into the paste for added moisture.)
Wrap each ball of red bean paste with a flattened ball of green dough, pinch seal and place the pinched side down on a small square sheet of baking paper. Take a plain ball and pinch out 4g of it to form the head of the turtle. Portion 1g each for the flippers/ legs and tail with the tail having slightly less dough than the flippers. Attach the features to the body of the turtle. Attach 2 black sesame seeds for the eyes and secure them by pressing a toothpick into the seeds. Cover loosely with cling wrap for the second proof.
Assemble the rose mantous by dividing the remaining plain and green dough into balls of 5-6g each. You should have 7 balls of each color. Flatten each ball and arrange them in alternate colors as shown in the picture below. Roll the whole line of flattened balls up and use a bench scraper (or knife) to cut the roll into 2. Place each rose onto a small piece of baking paper.
A few things to note:
1. Work as quickly as you can when assembling the baos and mantous. If you take too long, some buns may be proofed a lot longer than others. That's why I prefer working with small quantity of dough.
2. Lightly flour the work surface and your hands so the dough doesn't stick when you are flattening it or shaping it. Any sticking and pulling of the dough will result in skin surface that is not smooth.
3. Use room temperature fillings as far as possible so that proofing time will not be affected. Buns with frozen or refrigerated fillings need longer proofing times.
4. Do not add baking powder directly into the flour mixture as it may cause yellow spots to form on bao surface.
Waiting for half an hour before we are ready to be steamed!
I made more green tea paste and used the blunt end of the chopstick to make square imprints on the shell of the turtles. I printed the shell patterns after the buns were steamed. I am not sure if the patterns would be just as nice if printed before steaming. I re-steamed the frozen buns and the patterns still appear fine :).
Freshly steamed roses!
Soft and fluffy insides!