Hello Miffy! Hello...Kitty!
Check out the awesome fluffiness!
It's a challenge to make these with kids to take care of because of the proofing times and steps involved. I experimented with doing the first proofing in the fridge until I was free to deal with the dough. You should proof the dough in a warm place whenever possible but I was hard pressed for time. I didn't stick to the proper proofing times and roughly kept track of the second proofing time before rushing the baos into the steamer. So I was pleasantly surprised that the baos were very soft and fluffy and had no hint of alcoholic taste (an indicator of overproofing). It's a pity the mooncake filling as bao filling didn't taste so great :p. My kids would have preferred liu sha (salted egg custard) filling but they had so much fun eating the cute, soft and fluffy baos! So feel free to use any savoury or sweet filling that you like. Just remember not to be over-generous with the filling if you are making cute baos.
So here's the bao recipe for busy people!
Ingredients (makes 6-7 Miffy/ Hello Kitty baos):
110g Hong Kong bao flour plus extra for dusting
20g corn flour
20g icing sugar or caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1/10 tsp baking powder (double acting or regular is fine)
3/4 tsp instant yeast
8g vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp Tumeric powder (or yellow gel food colouring)
1/2 tsp Beetroot powder dissolved in a few drops of water (or red gel food colouring)
1 tsp egg yolk
1/8 tsp charcoal powder (or black gel food colouring)
90-100g lotus paste (divided into balls of 15-17g)
1. Mix all dry ingredients except baking powder together in a bowl. Take 1/2 tsp of water from the 70g batch and dissolve the baking powder in it.
2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water in. Stir with a spoon until a sticky dough forms.
3. Pour the dough onto a non stick mat and gradually knead in baking powder wth water. Gradually knead in shortening. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic and passes windowpane test. About 25 minutes total hand kneading time. You may choose to use an electric mixer to do the job but you will have to triple or quadruple the recipe.
4. If you have time, let the dough proof in a lightly greased bowl covered with cling wrap until double in size or about 30 minutes in hot Singapore. I placed my dough in a measuring cup with cling wrap and placed the dough in the fridge immediately to proof. This helps me to estimate how much more the dough needs to proof if necessary.
5. Punch down the dough and knead a few times to expel all the trapped air. My dough proofed to double its size in the fridge over 3 hours! So I didn't need to proof it further. Divide the dough in the following manner:
Miffy/ Kitty head: 28-30g
Miffy ears: 4g each
Red/pink dough: 12g
Yellow dough: 4g
Extra plain dough for Kitty ear supports: 5g
Colour the dough yellow with tumeric or gel food colouring. Colour the dough red with beetroot juice or gel food colouring. If you have to rush off somewhere again like me, you can colour the dough and chuck it back in the fridge after wrapping them up.
6. To make Miffy, simply wrap a ball of lotus paste with 30g of plain dough, placing seam side down onto a small piece of baking sheet. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll out 2 long ears and place one edge slightly under the wrapped dough. Loosely cover with cling wrap and proof for 40 minutes.
7. To make Kitty, please refer to Fong's Kitchen for the lovely tutorial. I snipped Kitty's ears a little too high up on the ball of wrapped dough so the shape is a little wrong. Snip the ears slightly towards the back of the head instead. Remember to add a bit of plain dough to support the ears at the back. Add on the nose and ribbon and proof it in the same way as Miffy.
8. Steam on high heat for 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit in the steamer/ wok for 2 minutes before taking the baos out. Mix the charcoal into the egg yolk. Use a chopstick to print on the eyes, dragging it downwards a bit to create an oval imprint. Use toothpick to draw on Miffy's mouth and Kitty's whiskers. Return to steam on high heat for another 1-2 minutes. Let it sit in the wok covered for another 2 minutes before taking the baos out.
Enjoy while it is hot! If you are not consuming immediately, keep them in airtight bag or container and freeze after they have cooled completely. Resteam for 15-20 minutes before eating. They will taste almost as good as freshly steamed.