Bao (or bau, pow or baozi) is the Chinese word for ‘steamed bread’, and that’s exactly what these strange little white Kermit faces are. This recipe originates from David Chang – though I’ve modified it slightly. 30 baos might sound like a lot, but they will get eaten, and if not they freeze very well. Just defrost in the steamer when it’s time to eat.
- 12 g (½ oz) fast-action dried yeast
- 350 ml (12fl oz/1½ cups) tepid water
- 600 g (1lb 5oz/4 ¾ cups) strong white bread flour
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp powdered milk
- 1 tbsp salt
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 100 g (3½ oz) butter, at room temperature
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: 2¼ hours, in three stages
Use these to make Bulgogi bao
Mix together the yeast and water directly in the dough mixer bowl and then add the flour, sugar, powdered milk, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Start the dough mixer and add the butter, one dollop at a time, until it’s all mixed in. Run on the lowest setting for about 10 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand, but it will take about double the time. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1¼ hours.
Divide the dough into 30 pieces and shape into ping-pong sized balls. If the dough is too sticky you can sprinkle some flour over the worktop, but normally you won’t have to. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut out 30 pieces of baking parchment each measuring 5cm (1¾ in) square. Roll out the dough balls into small ovals, fold them in half and put them on a piece of baking parchment. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
Bring water to the boil in a pan fitted with a steamer (if you haven’t got one you can find cheap bamboo steamers in Asian food stores) and steam, in batches, for 10–15 minutes.
Recipe and image from The Ultimate Sandwich by Jonas Cramby (Pavilion Books, $34.99, hbk).