Foodieobsessed's Blog



Bao Dough

A few weeks ago I got a crazy idea in my head. I decided that I was going to tackle making homemade Bao. If you are not familiar with bao it is a delicious pillowy dumpling (usually steamed) and filled with amazing things such as Chinese BBQ pork also called char siu.

My best friends family is Chinese, Norwegian, and German. Since I consider myself to be adopted by them I also consider myself to be of these descents. Her Mother grew up in Chinatown in San Francisco and is very familiar with homemade bao. When I asked her years ago about making it from scratch she was horrified because it is a process that can take days and even in her home in Chinatown it was only made for special occasions such as Chinese New Year.

I am always up for a challenge. That was part of the reason that I took on bread making head on. I figure if I can eat something delicious from a storefront I should, in theory, be able to make it just as delicious at home.

Bao has been an odyssey for me. As you may know, the internet is a wealth of information. A wealth of unchecked and in theory untested information. It was difficult to pin down one authentic recipe for Cha Siu Bao (Chinese Pork Buns) and so what I ended up doing was making a combination of three different recipes with my own tweaks. There is a different recipe for the pork (char siu), a for the dumpling filling (char siu hamm) and the bao dough. I decided to go with one of the larger dough recipes so that I would have the advantage of left overs so that I could get feedback from various friends and of course my family and Chinatown grown adopted Mama.

Hubbs and I are HUGE fans of Joss Whedons too soon canceled Firefly. His response when he heard about the bao being made over a three day weekend? Yes! I get fresh Bao this weekend! Whoo! Also, I am a leaf on the wind.”

So, first and foremost here is the recipe I am using for the dumpling dough. In theory, you could fill this with just about anything. There are different forms of bao and if you check out foodblogsearch I am sure you will find a ton of amazing filling ideas!

Based on this recipe.

Ingrediants:

6 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees, should feel warm)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening

1. Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 1 3/4 cups warm water, then add the yeast. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of shortening and the yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly.

2. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl (I use cooking spray) and let stand in a warm place for 2 hours  (or until it has tripled in bulk) covered with a tight fitting plate or clean kitchen towel.

3.  Remove the dough from bowl and knead it on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a long roll, and divide into equal pieces (depending on the size of bao you want, this recipe says 24). Flatten each piece with the palm of the hand to form a thin circle. The center should be thicker then the edge (for folding). 

4. Place your cool filling in the center of each circle, wrap to enclose. You can pinch a design along the seam. Let stand for 10 minutes. ****

3. Steam for 10 minutes, serve hot.

*** at this point you can line them on a cookie sheet and freeze them. After frozen pop into a bag and you have bao anytime. Or go on to cook them.

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