Yesterday we made the bean paste. Today we are making Bean Paste Bao.
There are lots of other things for which one can use bean paste – Rice cake filling, Eight Treasure Pudding filling, a filling for a crepe….This way is a family favorite. And with my mom in town, this week was a good time to document the process of making them complete with measurements, pictures, and even a video.
The ‘Bao’ 包 (sometimes they’re called ‘Baozi’ – I think maybe that’s for a singular Bao. We’re just calling them Bao here because I’m easily confused and distracted) part we’re talking about here is the steamed dumpling dough cover part. In this post, we’re making Dou Sha Bao (Red Bean Paste Bao), but you could use this same yeast dough and steaming process to make a number of other Chinese dumplings and breads. The filling is what changes mostly. Go here to Wikipedia for a list of some different Baos and fillings – Baozi (Char Siu Bao ( BBQ Pork buns) has a slightly revised dough recipe. If you’re interested my blobbing about that , comment below- maybe that’ll be a future recipe posting)
Dissolve and proof yeast:
- 1 Package or 1 Tablespoon Yeast
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes. It should get bubbly. ( If it doesn’t, either the water was too warm and the yeast got cooked, or the yeast is too old. In either of those cases, you’ll need to start over.)
- 4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/3 C White Sugar
- 1 -1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 C Water
- 1 tsp Salt
Put this plus the yeast mixture into a food processor or mixer and mix until it becomes a big sticky ball. Then dump the dough on the counter and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth.
Knead the dough again. Cut the dough into 24 even pieces. Roll dough in some additional flour to prevent sticking, and with form into flatish balls.
From here on out the instructions are written out below, but while we were making the second batch of these in a week, we decided that if a picture was worth a thousand words, that maybe a video would be worth a million. Especially if the accompanying music was the Flight of the Valkryies.
Roll the balls with a floured smallish rolling pin. (Chinese ones can be made with one inch dowels cut into foot long (12″) lengths and sanded. Some Asian grocery stores sell them in the kitchen gadget area. My favorite ones are slightly tapered at the ends. )
The desired shape is kinda like a fried egg, with the dough thicker in the middle than on the sides. To achieve this, roll from the sides of the flatish rounds inwards halfway and then outwards, shift the dough 20-30 degrees and repeat until you have a round fried egg shape. Make sure your rolling surface is floured to prevent the dough from sticking.
Repeat with the 24 pieces of dough. If you have more than one person participating, utilize division of labor. One person rolls the dough, another does the wrapping/pleating. (Our job titles are ‘Wrappy’ and ‘Rolly’)
Place the bao either directly into the steamer layers or on a well floured surface before steaming. We use aluminum steamers but you can use the bamboo kind. Put a little oil on a paper towel and coat the bottoms of the steamers with a little oil before placing the bao in to prevent sticking.
When the water boils, set the timer to 15 minutes and lower the boil to a simmer or slow boil. When the timer goes off, lift the lid, turn off the heat and take the bao out of the steamers.
These can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. Frozen for longer. Steam them again for a few minutes to warm them before eating. Or if you’re in a hurry to reheat and eat one or two refrigerated ones can be warmed, wrapped in a damp towel in the microwave oven for about 20 seconds.
Here’s the recipe sans pictures in case you want to print it out for the files.
Bao filling is hot and can burn your mouth. Use care and caution when wolfing down.