Wednesday 25 February 2015

Keroppi Pandan Salted Egg Custard Steamed Buns (very runny naturally coloured 流沙包!!)

My kids are requesting for baos again! After a hiatus of a few months, I finally have time to return to my first love in the "baking" arena. In my quest to find the right balance of soft fluffy bao skin and really runny salted egg custard filling, I have tweaked the recipe or preparation conditions quite a few times. I usually succeed in getting fluffy and soft baos but the filling is rather thick and not as runny as the ones you get at restaurants although the taste is pretty close. I am glad to say that I think I have found the right balance this time and the kids agree that this is the best batch of liu sha baos I have made so far!

Here's a closer look at the awesome runniness and fluffiness...

And it remains runny even after freezing and resteaming!

All the colouring you see are from natural ingredients. Since the filling contains coconut milk, pandan flavoured bao skin compliments it very well.

My kids helped with preparing the pandan juice :)

Prepare pandan juice by blending about 20-25 pandan leaves in 100ml of water and squeezing out the juice from the pulp wrapped in a cloth coffee filter. Cutting the leaves, blending and squeezing out the juice is so simple that kids can help. You may choose to let the juice settle overnight and use the dark green portion that settled at the bottom but it is not absolutely necessary.

Recipe for liu sha filling
I mentioned in my previous liu sha bao post that I will attempt liu sha baos again with an increase in liquid content and decrease in solidifying agent to make the filling more runny.

Ingredients (makes 9 baos):
2 (or 3) salted egg yolks, cooked and mashed with fork
40g unsalted butter, softened
32g icing sugar
10g custard powder
30g milk powder
32g coconut milk

1. Mix butter and sugar together until well combined. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Sieve the mixture to break up the big lumps of salted egg yolk as well as removing any bits that can't be broken up.

3. Chill in the fridge until firm, about 1h or overnight. Portion into individually cling wrapped balls of 17g and freeze it. This can be prepared a day ahead of time.

My kids sampled the leftover filling in the bowl and gave it a thumbs up!

Recipe for bao skin and assembly
The recipe for bao skin is similar to the one I have always used with a slight difference in proportion of dry and wet ingredients.

160g Hong Kong bao flour
20g cornflour
25g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast
1/6 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1/2 tsp of water/pandan juice
1/16 tsp ammonia bicarbonate (optional)
90g pandan juice/water
11g vegetable shortening (You may replace with vegetable oil or butter. But I find the skin drier with vegetable oil and butter lends a noticeable flavour to the bao skin. If you prefer buttery skin, do use butter :)).
Any other required food colouring

*Use one-fifth to one-quarter of the recipe to make the dough for Keroppi's features. Or if you are lazy, simply colour some green dough white/pink/black with gel food colouring for the features.

1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Add pandan juice (or water if you are making plain dough for Keroppi features) and mix with a wooden spoon until a dry dough forms.

2. Dissolve baking powder and ammonium bicarbonate in 1/2 tsp of water/pandan juice.

See how it bubbles!

Gradually add the baking powder mixture into the dough by kneading it in.

3. Pour the dough onto a non-stick mat and gradually knead in the shortening. Continue kneading for 15-20minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. You may let a stand mixer or breadmaker help you with the kneading but I prefer doing it by hand as I can feel the dough taking shape.

4. Proof the dough in a large bowl/measuring jug covered with cling wrap until almost doubled in size. About 25-30 minutes in hot Singapore or about 3 hours in the fridge. Punch down the dough and knead a few times to expel the trapped air.

5. Portion out the dough and add any food colouring at this point. I prepared the pandan and plain dough separately. I found some powdered food colouring from plant sources. All natural!

Available at Cold Storage in Malaysia but sadly not seen in Singapore.

I used the pink powder to colour the dough for Keroppi's cheeks.
Portion out the dough in this manner:
Green dough: 30g each bao
White dough: 3g for each eye
Pink dough: 7g for all the cheeks
Black dough: 12-15g for all eyes and mouth

I actually didn't prepare the black dough but did the lazy way of painting on the black parts with charcoal powder dissolved in water after the baos were steamed. This is fine provided you don't accidentally smudge it. I have painted on black features in the middle of steaming the baos before using charcoal dissolved in egg yolk but this method may not be suitable for liu sha baos which are temperature and time sensitive during the steaming process.

Important note: keep any resting portions of dough wrapped in the fridge to avoid over-proofing as you are portioning, colouring and assembling.

I love the natural green hue!

6. Lightly flour your work surface with bao flour. Take a ball of green dough and flatten it. Place a frozen ball of filling in the middle and wrap it, pinch sealing the dough. Place the assembly seam side down on a piece of baking paper. Add on the features. In order to stick on the cheeks, pinch out a bit of pink dough and stick onto the bao. With a lightly floured finger, gently flatten the pink balls onto the bao surface as shown below.

7. Proof for about 35 minutes at room temperature (about 28°C in the kitchen in Singapore) before steaming at high heat for 6 minutes. Make sure that the water is at a roiling boil. Turn off the heat and let the baos rest in the covered wok/ steamer for 3 minutes before opening the cover. Do not over steam the baos as they may explode or the filling will not be as runny.

Baos are best eaten freshly steamed. If you are not consuming immediately, freeze the baos in ziplock bags after they have cooled completely. Resteam for 11-12 minutes without defrosting before consuming.

Not exactly the prettiest looking but we are yummy!

My kids had much fun eating these! Because the filling was so drippy, they pulled off the eyeballs and dipped in the filling to eat!

With lots of love,
Phay Shing

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