It’s the middle of the week and I have a craving for bao, steamed bun. My boyfriend replied, “Ok, we’ll go to the city on Friday, yea?” Living in a small town with no Chinese bakery, we have to trek a long way to get some of our favorite food. It can be quite inconvenient when one of us gets a craving. After work that day, my boyfriend brought me some pretty croissant and danish pastries. They were wonderful, but I still wanted to taste soft fluffy bun. So I decided to do some research and found some potential recipes…BUT the ingredients can not be found in our local supermarket. On top of that, I was inspired to make them into a shaped of a pig after going to the Pig Day event at my Farmer’s Market.
After some delayed, here is my recipe for steamed custard bun (奶黄包 / nai wong bao).
2¼ tsp instant dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water
(Optional: ½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice)
2¼ cup cake flour
3/4 cup wheat starch
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tb shortening or vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cold water
1 tb + 1 tsp custard powder
1/2 cup wheat starch
3 tb castor sugar
1/2 cup milk
3½ tb butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1. Sift together flour, wheat starch and icing sugar. Place flour mixture in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Gently stir water to dissolve the yeast, then slowly bring together flour mixture.
3. Add in shortening or oil and knead for 10-15 minutes until a soft dough is formed.
4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.
Making custard filling:
5. Combine custard powder, wheat starch, and castor sugar in a nonstick pot.
6. Add in milk and stir mixture over low heat until mixed.
7. Add butter and dissolve in mixture.
8. Add egg and turn off heat. Keep stirring to form custard paste.
9. Divide filling into 12 portions and shape into balls.
Continue making custard bun:
10. Dissolve baking powder in cold water, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined.
11. Divide dough into 12 portions. Roll a ball into a flat circle where edges are thinner than the center.
12. Place custard filling in the middle, and wrap to form a bun.
13. Place bun on parchment paper, and repeat for the other.
14. Prove for 10 min. and preheat steamer.
15. Arrange buns in a steamer with 1″ gap in between each bun. Steam on high heat for 15 mins.
To assemble pig, add the following steps to the recipe:
11a. Reserve one dough ball and color it pink with a few drops of red food coloring. (I didn’t have any food coloring, so I ground the closest red item I have, which is Haw Flakes.)
11b. Roll out the pink dough and shape little rectangles for noses and triangles for ears.
12a. Adhered nose and ears onto formed bun with a little water. Use a chopstick to poke nose holes.
12b. Eyes can be made with black sesame or raisins. Be creative! I used sushi seaweed and cut out different shape eyes to give my pig buns some expressions.
-My custard powder and wheat starch was found in a small Chinese grocery.
-Original recipe uses low-protein flour aka Hong Kong flour. I haven’t been able to find it, so I used cake flour instead.
-For whiter buns, add a few drops of vinegar into steaming water.
-DO NOT open the lid during the steaming process.
-If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder has not fully dissolved.
Beautiful yellow custard and my secret ingredient, Haw Flakes.
It’s coming to life!
It was funny lifting the lid after the buns finished steaming, and seeing the pain expression “(>_<)” on one of my piggies.