Monday, October 19, 2015

Pandan Kaya Bao / Pandan Kaya Steamed Buns

Wish that you can enjoy the fragrance of these pandan buns with me...

pandan kaya bao steamed buns
Pandan Kaya Steamed Buns

Pandan is a common ingredient used in Southeast Asian cuisine but for the benefits of all who never seen or smelled or tasted pandan... Pandan (as mentioned in Wikipedia), also known as screw pine is a tropical perennial plant that is commonly grown in Southeast Asia. Pandan has a characteristic aroma which is the same compound, 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline, which also gives white bread, jasmine rice and basmati rice their typical smell. The plant is upright, green leafy plant with long, narrow, blade-like leaves and woody aerial roots and it can be easily propagated by cuttings.

I wish that I can have a pandan plant. I could buy a pandan plant from tropical Queensland but I know that most pandan plants won't survive through Melbourne cold and frosty winter.

My father-in-law grows many beautiful pandan plants in Singapore. My eyes are all enviously "green" admiring his pandan plants whenever I go back to Singapore. As always, he knows that I like his pandan plants and convinces me to bring a couple of cuttings back to Melbourne but I keep telling him that I can't...

Fortunately, we can buy fresh pandan leaves in the Asian grocery stores near our home. Although they are not as cheap as those selling in Singapore, I can't really complain much because I prefer to use the real pandan leaves rather than pandan essence or artificial extract.

These pandan kaya steamed buns made with real pandan are fully packed with aromatic fragrance. I made these because my pandan loving son has been nagging at me that he wants to eat pandan cakes and any pandan food. We loves these buns very much and so I have saved a couple of these steamed buns to pack them as snacks for my son's holiday program at Camp Australia. He was telling me that his friends and teachers were curious with the green buns that he ate and they actually took turns to smell his food... So cute!

Extracting pandan juice to make the bun dough
Extracting pandan-coconut juice to make pandan kaya 
This is a quick kaya and can be easily cooked within 10 minutes.
Chill kaya well before using it to fill the buns
Shaping the kaya buns
We can't wait to eat these sweet-smelling buns...
pandan kaya bao steamed buns
Love the fragrance of these pandan buns!

Before proceeding to the recipe, I like to mention that I did it again!!! I ran my 4th marathon!!! Unfortunately my timing wasn't as good as my previous runs and it was 03:53:20 this time. Why? I wasn't feeling well at my last 15 km. Maybe it was fatigue or non-continuous training due to our recent travel. Never mind... at least I finished!!! Feel that I'm having a hangover now!!! LOL!

Here's the recipe mostly adapted from a bilingual book, Baked and Steamed Bun by Daniel Choong

Makes 16 small buns

For the kaya filling:
2 pandan leaves, processed with 3 tbsp coconut milk and extracted using a muslin cloth
coconut milk to top up to a total 180 ml - I used Ayam brand light coconut milk*
40g sugar
1 egg
10g com flour
*For less richer or more translucent-looking kaya like the original recipe in the book, you can substitute 100 ml coconut milk with water

To make the kaya filling:
Mix all filling ingredients until smooth and cook it in medium-low heat until thickened. Chill it well before using it to fill the buns.

Please note that this amount of kaya filling can fill 16 small kaya buns with about 1/3 cup extra as leftover.

For the kaya bun dough:
325g low protein self raising flour, preferably bleached**
45g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
20 ml oil, preferably light like canola oil
6 pandan leaves, process with 4 tbsp water and extracted using a muslin cloth
water to top up extracted pandan juice to a total of 150ml, plus 1-2 tbsp water if your dough is too dry
** You can use Hong Kong flour or low protein cake flour. Please add 1/2 tsp baking powder if you are using either these flour which is not self raising.

To make bao dough:
Place sugar, salt, oil, water, flour (with or without baking powder) and yeast in the breadmaker. Use dough setting to knead and prove the dough for 1 hr.

If breadmaker is not available, combine all bao ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough (at least 20 mins) and then let it rise for 1 hr or double in size.

When the dough is ready, divide into 16 portions and allow the dough to rest for 5-10 mins. Meanwhile, set water to boil in a steamer.

Flatten the dough pieces with your hands, and place about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp kaya filling in the center. Pinch up the sides of the dough to completely enclose the filling. Warning: this kaya filling can be a little sloppy to wrap and so do not use too much filling.

Place each bao on a small piece of baking paper with its seam sides down. Rest the bao in warm mist for 10-15 mins until they look puffy.

Steam baos with medium heat for about 10-15 mins until done. The steam timing varies if you have multiple layers of baos to steam. The layer that is closest to the direct steam will take 10 mins to cook.

Happy Steaming
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  1. Congrats on your marathon, you did a good job by joining :D. These pandan kaya bao looks so tempting and I love the gooey filling, yum.

  2. Hi Zoe,
    Well done in your marathon ! Oh yes these pandan + coconut fragrance pandan kaya steamed baos set me drooling. ... yummy!

  3. These look awesome .great looking

  4. I was watching Martin Yan yesterday and I saw pandan bao (with lotus paste).. And today, I see your pandan bao with kaya paste, wah, I think I wana have some lotus and kaya buns already.. Imagine eating them piping hot, the kaya oozing out.. Aiyoh, your last picture, really killing me, I want lah !!!

  5. Hi Zoe, congratulations on running your 4th marathon!
    Your kaya baos look awesome! I can feel the fluffiness. ^.^

  6. Hello Zoe, congratulations on completing yet another marathon! Your timing was amazing and you said it's not your PB? OMG!!! I only know you as an amazing chef! Didn't know you're one amazing athletic! I really salute you!!!

  7. Hi Zoe, congratulations for your 4th marathon.. your pandan kaya bao are very nice, I love the kaya filling.

  8. Delcious pandan kaya buns...... totally new to me......! n love the inclusion of coconut milk :)

  9. Congrats on completing the marathon!! Your pandan kaya buns are awesome! I'm drooling over the pics now. :)

  10. Hi Zoe, you did it once again for this marathon! Congrats.

    The buns are beautiful. Love the colours from the pandan extract. You are really good in buns!

  11. I'm the biggest lover of kaya, I love pandan products and although we've grown pandan everywhere we've lived since I was a kid, I CANNOT stand the smell of fresh cut pandan. To me, it's nauseating...extremely sickening, to me it's like the smell of fresh cut grass which I also cannot stand. Strange isn't it? Bu then again cooked pandan products or essences don't have that sharp smell. I'd love to try one or two of your buns Zoe! They look so good!

  12. Zoe, I love kaya bao! I can eat half a dozen at one go hah..hah... So you ran your 4th marathon. Good for you!

  13. Hi Zoe your Pandan kaya baos look so tempting. Would love to sink my teeth into one.

  14. I had some green buns few years back in HK disneyland, but they were in the shape of some aliens & we love it so much :D

  15. With my favourite kaya ! Hmmm...yummm....
    Hope you're having a great week ahead dear.
    Blessings, Kristy

  16. Congratulations on completing the marathon! I hate running so I'll never sign up for one haha. The kaya buns look so soft and fluffy! It's so hard to get Asian products here too, and they also come at a hefty price tag, but at least you managed to find pandan leaves! I couldn't find any of them here at all :(

  17. OK, now I'm hungry! This looks wonderful. Love the color! Thanks for this.

  18. The kaya buns look delicious! Congrats on finishing ur 4th marathon!