Actually, no! The truth is that I have been dying to bake for a long time. But my new place that I moved into doesn't have an oven! That means no pie, quiches, tarts, gratins, fresh bread, roast chicken, the list can go on and on.
Well anyway, I had the sudden urge of eating a chicken-and-leek pie one day. Obviously I can't bake any pie without an oven. So I had this idea of using chicken-and-leek as a filling in Chinese steamed buns. After a few days of gathering ingredients and researching on the recipe for steamed buns, the end-product is what you see above.
The steamed bun looks yellow-brownish instead of white because I didn't use bleached flour. The dough for Chinese steamed-bun is actually not hard to make. It is double risen, first with yeast and then with baking powder, which makes the buns light and fluffy. Most recipes I found reccommend low-glutten flour to make the buns light and soft. I used a mixture of plain flour and corn flour which works fine too.
You can be creative with the fillings, which can be either savoury (e.g. the classic barbecue pork bun) or sweet. With sweet fillings like lotus seed paste or red bean paste these buns make great afternoon snack.
Makes 6 steamed buns:
- 3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
- 80ml lukewarm water
- 1 cup plain flour
- 2/5 cup corn flour
- 20g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon oil (vegetable oil or pork lard)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup leek (white part only, chopped)
- 2 shallots (chopped)
- 1 cup chicken meat (diced or minced)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons pure cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil (optional)
1. Dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the yeast. Stir and set aside until foamy.
2. Sift the flour and corn flour in a bowl and add the yeast mixture and the oil. Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients to a rough dough. Knead for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it is very sticky, knead in a little more flour.
3. Lightly grease a bowl with some oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside to rise in a warm place (which means anywhere in Melbourne right now) until double in volume.
4. For the filling, melt butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add leek and shallot and cook for 5 minutes or until they are soft. Stir frequently not to let the leek and shallot brown. Add in chicken and cook until the meat is cooked. Pour in the cream, stir and mix well. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste. Add the roasted sesame oil if using. Let the filling cool down.
5. Once the dough doubles in volume, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten it and make a well in the centre. Place the baking powder in the well and gather up the edges to enclose the baking powder. Pinch the edges to seal. Lightly knead the dough for several minutes to even incorporate the baking powder.
6. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Working with one portion at the time, press the dough into circles with the edges thinner than the centre. Place the filling on the dough. Draw the sides in to enclose the filling. Pinch the top together and put each bun on a square of greaseproof paper (which I don't have it so I just put the bun on a lightly greased plate as shown below).
7. Place the buns well apart because they will continue to rise during steaming. Steam over simmering water in a wok or anything that suits you for 15 minutes. Serve hot. Steamed buns freeze well too.