A Tale of Two Buns – Part Two

Happy (Lunar) New Year, everyone!  It’s like regular New Year’s Day but without the pressure of having to find something to do at midnight and the hangover the next day.

After the moderate success of our attempts at making steamed pork buns, Kristi and I started in on her preference, the baked ones.

You may remember from yesterday’s post that when we made the dough we started out with a whisk and then kneaded by hand, so we were ready to do that again when all of a sudden I hear:

“D, oh my gosh, wait! We have a mixer!”

Sure enough, there it was hidden behind their blender, a KitchenAid mixer. This time the dough was much easier to make.

IMG_6999Set it and forget it! Not really, but I like saying it.

Within a few minutes we had our dough ready to go.  Then it needed to rise for a few hours.  There’s a lot of waiting when it comes to dough. But two hours later we were rewarded with a nice puffy ball.

IMG_6986Puff the magic dough ball.

The filling this time was a little richer. It was almost the same as the filling we made for the steamed buns, but with red onion and garlic, and hoisin sauce as well.

The good thing about baked bao is that you assemble them and then bake them upside down, so our questionable dough pleating skills were blissfully hidden on the bottom.

IMG_7014Turning these upside down hides all pleating sins.

After waiting another hour and a half (yeesh!), our bao were ready to bake.

IMG_7015Perfectly plump pork buns

In to the oven they go. The recipe called for 15 minutes.  So while we wait, here’s an unauthorized candid shot from earlier in the day when we were putting buns into the steamer.

IMG_5200Thanks to Brian for catching our stellar teamwork in action.

Fifteen minutes, and we’re done!  Er..maybe a little too done.

IMG_7024Dinner rolls anyone?

So maybe we overcooked them. It’s all part of the learning process! The crust was pretty hard when we took them out of the oven and we cursed the woman who wrote the recipe we followed (though to be fair, it was written 25 years ago, and Kristi’s oven was probably better and hotter). But they started softening up as they cooled. Still, I think 12 minutes next time.

The good news, though, is that the richer filling and the slightly denser dough was a perfect match! It tasted so indulgent that we had to eat 3. Each.

IMG_7027Tasty success!

So, there you have it. Our first attempt at making Chinese bao, in two forms. We learned a lot (Next time: bread flour, less cooking time, use a rolling pin, more pleating practice), so our future trials will be more successful.

Also learned: It’s not as intimidating as it looks to make something so delicious, in fact the active cooking time is surprisingly short. Oh, and bring a book, because there is a lot of downtime!

IMG_7031Two buns, both alike in dignity.

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