Rainbow Steamed Buns
Bao skin recipe is adapted from http://kwgls.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/a-humble-traditional-chinese-steamed-bun-chinese-steamed-buns-with-red-bean-paste/
Ingredients:200g Hong Kong bao flour
35g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1/5 tsp double acting baking powder
1 and 1/4 tsp dry yeast
127g cool room temperature water (about 25-28°C)
14g vegetable shortening
Method:1. Mix well all ingredients except water and vegetable shortening together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Make a well in the center.
2. Take 1 tsp of water from the 127g of water to dissolve the double acting baking powder in a small dish or bowl and set aside.
3. Add water into the well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon until well combined and a dough is formed. Pour out the dough onto a non-stick mat or a lightly floured clean work surface and hand knead* for 5 minutes. Add in the dissolved baking powder 1/4 tsp at a time to the dough and knead until it is absorbed into the dough. Stir the baking powder mixture before each addition into the dough as the powder tends to settle to the bottom of the bowl. Knead for another 5 minutes after all the baking powder has been added.
4. Knead in the vegetable shortening in a few additions, making sure that it is absorbed into the dough before adding more. After all the shortening has been added, knead for 15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test.
5. Let the dough rest in a lightly greased bowl covered with cling wrap for about 30 minutes or double in size. Punch down the dough and knead a few times to release the trapped air.
6. Try to work quickly from this point onwards when portioning and wrapping the buns, keeping any resting portions covered loosely with cling wrap. Lightly flour work surface and hands to prevent dough from sticking. Divide the dough to the desired amounts for wrapping the filling. For this recipe, I made 6 salted egg custard buns** using 30g of dough for each bun, 6 mini char siew buns*** using 16g of dough for each bun and 4 plain steamed rose buns**** using the remaining dough. I portioned 50g of dough for each of the following colours: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The remaining dough is left as white colour. I used Wilton food colouring gel to add colours to the dough.
7. You may use a small rolling pin or your hands to flatten the ball of dough before adding the filling. Make the edges thinner than the center of the dough. Pinch seal the dough after wrapping and place the pinched side down on a small piece of baking sheet in a steaming basket. I attached black sesame seeds as eyes for the piglet buns. Proof buns with room temperature fillings (e.g. char siew) for 30 minutes and buns with refrigerated/frozen fillings (e.g. salted egg custard) for 45 minutes. You may want to cover buns with room temperature fillings loosely with a cling wrap during this second proof to prevent the bun skin from drying out. Buns with cold fillings can be left uncovered as there is a tendency for condensation to form on the surface of the buns during this second proof.
8. While the buns are proofing, prepare a wok or steamer for steaming. Make sure the water is boiling before putting the buns in for steaming. Steam small buns (made with 30g or less of dough) for 10-12 minutes and larger buns (50g or more of dough) for about 15 minutes at medium heat. Turn off the heat and let the buns rest for 5 minutes before removing the lid.
9. Steamed buns are best eaten freshly steamed. If you are not consuming them immediately, store them in an airtight container after they have cooled down completely and freeze them. When you want to consume the stored buns, re-steam them for 15-20 minutes (depending on size of buns) straight from the freezer. They will still taste just as good as freshly steamed ones :).
*You may also use a breadmaker for kneading the dough.
** Recipe for salted egg custard can be found here: http://culinarykitchenette.blogspot.sg/2013/10/cute-animal-liu-sha-bao-by-phay-shing.html
***Recipe for char siew filling can be found here: http://rasamalaysia.com/char-siew-bao/2/
****Method for shaping rose buns can be found here: http://wendyinkk.blogspot.sg/2011/08/purple-sweet-potato-rose-mantou.html