Thursday 19 June 2014

Guinea Pig Liu Sha Bao (Salted Egg Custard Steamed Buns)

"Mama, can you make guinea pig liu sha bao?"

My elder kid requested for liu sha baos made into the shape of his favorite animal, so I made them :). Here's a basket of guinea pig liu sha baos!

Are we too cute to be eaten??

Check out the soft fluffy bun with runny yummy custard! 

Check out the cute pink feet!

This is quite a time consuming "bake" but worth it as my elder kid commented that the baos look like real guinea pigs and both kids had so much fun eating them :). They sampled freshly steamed ones before dinner and asked for more after dinner!

An important thing to take note when making cute baos (or bread for that matter) is to be careful not to over proof the dough. Overproofed baos and bread have a strong alcohol aftertaste that is not yummy at all. I usually avoid this by working fast and reducing the time for first proof. But sometimes this may not be sufficient to prevent overproofing. Wendyinkk suggested placing resting dough in the fridge cling wrapped to slow down the yeast activity. I did that for this bao making session.

This "bake" is more sucessful than my previous liu sha bao attempt as the custard is lava-like and none of the baos exploded. I may attempt the recipe without custard powder to see if it will make the filling even runnier in the future.

I decided to use the same recipe for the salted egg custard filling as my previous attempt from Bake for Happy Kids. The bao skin recipe is same as my previous bao posts.

Ingredients (makes about 9 buns): 
Salted egg custard filling
2 salted duck eggs, cooked and shelled. Use only the yolks.
40g unsalted butter, softened
30g icing sugar
20g custard powder
30g dry milk powder
3g cornflour
23g coconut milk

Bao skin
150g Hong Kong bao flour (plus extra for dusting)
28g cornflour
26g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1/6 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1/2 tsp of water
1 tsp dry yeast
95g water
11g vegetable shortening
Some extra water if necessary

1/8 tsp charcoal powder dissolved in a bit of water to make a paste
1g cocoa powder dissolved in a bit of water to make a paste
12g Milo powder dissolved in a bit of water to make a paste
Pinches of powdered pink food coloring (you may use gel type)

1. Prepare the salted egg custard. Mash egg yolks into fine crumbs. Use a wooden spoon and beat the butter and sugar until combined. Add remaining ingredients until well combined. I sieved the mixture to make the custard smoother.
2. Refrigerate the custard until firm. Scoop out 18g portions, cling wrap each ball and freeze overnight.

3. Prepare the bao skin. Mix well bao flour, cornflour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add water and use a wooden spoon to mix well until a dough is formed. Pour the dough onto a non-stick mat or lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough comes together. About 5 minutes.
4. Gradually add the baking powder a bit at a time, taking care to stir the mixture before adding into the dough. Knead until the baking powder is absorbed into the dough. Knead in vegetable shortening gradually until it is absorbed into the dough. Continue kneading for another 15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. Add water/ flour during the kneading if the dough feels too dry/ wet.
5. Try to work quickly from here. Take about 10g of dough and add charcoal paste to it. Knead until the coloring is even. Take about 10g of dough and add cocoa paste to it. Knead until it is evenly brown colored. Take about 30g of dough and set aside. Take another 30g of dough and color it pink. Add milo paste to the remaining dough and knead until evenly colored. Divide the milo dough into 9 equal portions or 30-35g each (mine were 31-32g each). Cover any resting balls of dough with cling wrap and refrigerate it. Leave the Milo dough to proof for at least 15 minutes at room temperature before expeling trapped gas and shaping it. **(The original basic bao recipe requires 30 minutes of proofing (or until doubled in size) before dividing the dough and shaping/filling it.)

6. I made the baos in batches of three to have better control of proofing and steaming times. Note that the first batch may turn out with a softer bite and less fluffy as there is a shorter proofing time after kneading the dough. LIGHTLY dust your work surface with flour and fingers so that the dough doesn't stick when you are shaping. I find that if the dough pulls off from a surface during shaping, the final effect will be baos with rough skins. If the ball of dough has expanded due to long waiting times, knead it a few times to expel the trapped gas before shaping. I only used a bench scraper, toothpick and my fingers to shape the guinea pig features. Flatten each ball of milo dough with your hand/ small rolling pin, making the edges thinner than the center. Place a ball of frozen custard in the middle, wrap it up and pinch seal.

Place the seal side down on a small piece of baking sheet in a steaming basket/ plate for steaming. Attach the feet (optional), face patch, nose, eyes and ears.

Keep assembled baos in the fridge until the full batch of three baos are ready for second proofing.

Proofing guinea pigs and waiting to be steamed! Mama got lazy so some of us don't have cute feet.

7. Let the buns proof for 45 minutes at room temperature. It is not necessary to cover the buns in hot and humid Singapore as condensation will form on the bao skins in no time because the fillings are frozen when wrapped. Prepare the wok/ steamer for steaming towards end of proofing time.
8. Steam for 8 minutes, turn off the heat and let the baos sit in there for another 3 minutes before opening the cover.  Do not over steam or the baos will explode. Be careful not to let the water drip onto the buns when you remove the lid. Serve immediately or let it cool completely, store in an air tight container and freeze it. Re-steam for 15 minutes before consuming and it will be almost as good as freshly steamed.

Some may think this looks a tad cruel with the guinea pig oozing yellow blood :p


Update: I have finally gotten the right recipe for the best combination of aoft fluffy bao skin and very runny liu sha filling (not just lava-like for these guinea pigs)!  Please refer to this post!

With love,
Phay Shing


  1. Hi, Phay Shing, your liu sha bao looks so good and I believe the kids will like them so much when they saw little guinea pigs...hahaha
    Thanks for linking up with LTU!

  2. Thanks Jozelyn :). Glad that my kids loved the baos! Thanks for hosting this month's ltu!

  3. OMG, these are so cute... thanks for sharing.
    Blessings, Kristy

  4. Thanks Kristy! Thanks for your wassant paste recipe too! I adapted custard and kaya flavors from your original recipe :)

  5. Btw, you should have submit this post to SCS butter competition !

  6. Thanks Kristy for letting me know :). Hehe a bit too late since I didn't take photos of the bao with the butter wrapper.

  7. Hi Phay Shing,

    I laughed looking at your last pic with the guinea pig being torn apart... exposing the runny custard filling. A little cruel but you are killing any animal here :p


  8. Hi Zoe,
    Glad that you had a good laugh! I can't help but laugh when I have one of them stare at me from the plate. Those beady eyes are quite irresistible. My kids love to eat them one body part at a time. Sounds cruel but provides lots of entertainment for them ;)