Monday, September 1, 2014

Chinese Flower Steamed Buns 花卷

August 2014 is gone now... Strangely, time seems to pass quicker when we are busy. Agree?

Today is the first day of Spring in Melbourne, Australia. To me, Spring is a beautiful season. The flowers are blooming and the days are getting warmer and longer. Feeling good, I'm inspired to do some Spring-related cooking. To start, I like to make something flowery and pretty...

Chinese flower steamed buns bao
Chinese Flower Steamed Buns 花卷

I was impressed after steaming these buns... but slightly disappointed after having my first bite of these. They are very soft and moist to eat but not springy at all! These buns collapse flatly when they are bitten and won't spring back to their shapes afterwards. Having said that, I have to strongly emphasize that I was just slightly disappointed as these buns are actually very nice to eat if you tear and pull them apart by pieces and eat them with any savoury food and gravy. In fact, they can be easily re-heated using a microwave and can stay moist even after a few days that they were made. My husband and son said that they enjoy these the most with fish or pork floss or any braised dishes.

Why this recipe? This flower steamed bun recipe is mostly adapted from Hunger Hunger. Unlike a recipe (from the book, the first book of noodles for beginners by Carol Hu) that I was intending to use originally, this is a fuss-free recipe that requires no pre-fermentation and contains five typical essential ingredients (plus water) to make the plain buns. Easy!

Divide dough into the required portion sizes accordingly
If you like something fanciful, you can shape the buns with these ingredients
To shape into pretty flower, do this first...
... then, this.
Keep pulling and twisting and tuck in both ends to get this. Pretty!
Allow buns to rest for about 20 mins and steam for about 10-20 mins
Happy to see that the flowery shapes stay pretty well.
Best way of eating it is by pulling it apart :)

Here's the recipe mostly adapted from Hunger Hunger

Makes 12 buns or 10-15 depending on the size that you like

For the dough:
350g Hong Kong flour or any low protein (7-9%) bleached flour
1 tsp double-action baking powder or baking powder, you can omit this if you are using self raising low protein flour
30g caster sugar
230 ml water, lukewarm
1 tbsp vegetable oil, preferably something light like canola oil
1 tsp instant yeast

The Extras:
2 tbsp sesame oil or vegetable oil, preferably something light like canola oil if you like a fair-looking buns
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2-3 stalks of spring onions, finely sliced
small pieces of baking paper to prevent the buns from sticking on steamed surfaces.

Place water, oil, sugar, flour, baking powder and yeast according to this order into a breadmaker and use "dough” setting to knead and prove the dough for 1 hr.

If breadmaker is not available, kneading by hand is possible. Dissolve yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar into 2 tbsp of lukewarm water. Wait for about 10 mins or until the yeast mixture turns foamy. Combine flour, baking powder, caster sugar in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture, add about 200ml of water and yeast mixture and mix to form a dough. Transfer dough onto a non-stick work surface. Continue to knead to form an elastic and smooth dough (at least 30 mins) and then prove the dough for 1 hr.

Please note that the dough can be sticky but try not to add in more flour. Keep kneading and the dough will become smoother as you knead.

Divide dough into 12 portions or 15 portions for smaller buns. On a lightly floured work surface and using a rolling pin, roll each portion into a small oval shape which is about 3-4 cm wide. Use a knife, cut the inside of the dough by its lengthwise into thin strips of 0.5 cm (or thinner than that if you are making smaller buns) without cutting through the rims of the dough. Brush the cut strips of dough with vegetable oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds and sliced onions.

Take the ends of the dough, one end with each hand with your thumb and index forefinger pinching both ends. Stretch the dough as you pull it gently and twist at the same time until the strips form a nice twisted pattern. Tuck both ends under the twisted pattern and place the buns on a small pieces of baking paper to proof. Rest the bun in warm mist for 20 mins or until slightly doubled in size but not too long as over-prove buns tends to wrinkle after cooling from steaming.

Steam bun for 10-15 mins until done. The steam timing varies depending on the sizes of your buns and also if you have multiple layers of buns to steam. The layer that is closest to the direct steam will take about 10 mins to cook. When ready remove the buns immediately from the steamer and serve warm.

Leftovers can be kept in fridge or freezer with cling wrap and cover. To freeze, allow buns to cool completely at room temperature. Wrap each bun in each small freezing bag and place all of them in the freezer. To consume, no thawing of frozen buns are required. Just re-steam or microwave (cover with cling wrap) the kept buns until hot before serve.

Happy Steaming
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  1. clap clap clap! hear my applause from the other hemisphere of the globe? congrats on such successful events... i look forward to the apple theme when i return from my trip... meantime, these lovely flower steamed buns come just timely to celebrate the success of both your events! let's eat

  2. Happy, Happy Spring Zoe!!!

    I'm so excited for you! We will be going into Fall in a couple of weeks but I am holding on to Summer for as long as I possibly can, lol...It seems the Summer flew on by this year but it sure was wonderful having Michele and the kids for the month of August:)

    Your Flower Steam Bus are a perfect introduction to the arrival of spring in your little corner of the world. I must say, knowing so many bloggers from all over the world, I feel like I experience all the seasons over and over again, lol...just wonderful!

    Thank you so much for sharing, dear Zoe...Bake For Happy Kids is going to be delicious this month, I just know it!

  3. Looks amazing...Love the way you have explained and so easy to follow...Thanks for the great recipe

  4. Your 花卷look so pretty. I love to eat 花卷. My Taiwanese friend first introduced me to this and I'm absolutely addicted. Unfortunately I seldom get to eat it these days cos my family is not interested in Chinese buns.

  5. This花卷looks so pretty,I love sesame,can add in as much as I want? hehehe

  6. how spongy the buns are and so happy to see your face dear

  7. Zoe, I love your pretty buns! Time sure flies and soon 2014 will be over.

  8. Beautiful! Thanks for the tips!

  9. I am with you my friend, spring being here makes me grin like a mad man :D
    What delicious flower buns, they are perfect to celebrate the new season with!

    Choc Chip Uru

  10. Whoa..more pretty flower food! I'm imagining all the beautiful entries that would be coming in if you organised a flower themed Little Thumbs Up event (or has that been done already?). I'd be checking out ALL the blogs that joined! ^.^

    1. Hi Sharon,

      No one has select any flower-related ingredients for their LTU events yet. Are you interested?


    2. Hi Zoe, I just sent you an email :)

  11. I love 花卷too! Especially like to dip it in mapo tofu :D

  12. Hi Zoe,
    Your buns looks lovely with the flower shaped. I can imagine dipping it in braised pork belly sauce! Yummy! Haha!
    I seldom make steamed buns, as I hate steaming! But I did make one, have not post it yet.
    The flour event has a large collection of links indeed! Looking forward to the apple theme with Kit!

  13. Hi Zoe ! 3 loud cheers ! Or more ! Congrats on the successful events for LTU and CLAS. Indeed August has been a very busy month for me too ... tried my 1st attempt in baking mooncakes, baked pasta. Your Flower Steamed Buns 花卷 look delicious. But I dread the kneading of dough and proofing time LOL .. I'm looking forward to the Apple theme ! Cheers! Opps where's my wine or beer ? ... hee hee !

  14. Lovely flower buns & it does has the soft fluffy texture . It's been awhile since I last make this flower buns & now I'm craving for some after looking at yours . LOL

  15. Hi Zoe , so light and fluffy ... two words describes them best ... yummy delicious ;-D

  16. Wow so light and fluffy steamed buns...I can have it everyday without fuss.

  17. Looks soft and fluffy, I love it dipping into stew pork sauce....delicious!

  18. These look beautiful Zoe! I love how you've made these all twirly and the spring onions are a perfect topping to these traditional buns! I would love to dip these into a thick dark meat stew! Yum!

  19. so beautifully made...would love to try it some time...drooling here