Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Smile Pau/Bao

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds, in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile, through your fear and sorrow
Smile, and there'll be tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
If you'll....

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear, may be ever so near,
That's the time, you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you'll just....

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear, may be ever so near,
That's the time, you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you'll just....


I hope you all enjoyed this video and sang along with the lyrics as the lyrics of yesteryears are so meaningful.  Smile is a very powerful tool, even a pau/bao that smiles will make your day.  It is easier to make me SMILE but not so easy to make the pau/bao smile.  It took me 2 days and many paus/baos after, to be able to make them Smiling.  It is not the recipe, any recipe will work if we are able to recognize the function of each ingredients in the recipe.  I have edited this recipe and omitted the wheat starch and replaced it with pau flour as i have found that too much starch makes the dough tasted gummy and stick to the teeth.  The wheat starch write-up is for your knowledge only.

Pau Flour

It is a premium flour specially milled for making superb quality Hong Kong type pau/Bao.  Any brand is fine as long as the protein(gluten) is low.  I am using American Rose Cake Flour but any other brand will do. I have even used bleached all-purpose and added wheat starch to lower the protein/gluten.  Although these flours make good white paus/baos,  you must know your flour before starting out with a recipe.  A new batch of flour of the same brand will behave differently as the previous batch of flour you had.  The new batch might not absorb that much liquid, unlike the old batch which has been sitting in the pantry(Colorado has no humidity), is drier and might need more liquid.  It is a good practice to use the amount of liquid in the recipe and adjust accordingly - in this case, the more experience you have in the kitchen helps and to be able to realise the climatic atmosphere of where you are, is vital to good cooking. 

Wheat Starch/澄粉

Wheat starch is the by product/leftover starch from making wheat gluten, or 面筋. The wheat gluten bunches up when you wash the dough. The starch falls out of the dough and sinks to the bottom of the bowl.  The water is removed and then the starches are dried. I use this wheat starch to lower the protein level further.  Cornflour is a good substitute but i prefer cornflour for cakes and for pau which white is so important to maintain, wheat starch is perfect.

Ammonium Bicarbonate: 

Read about it Here

Double Action Baking Powder:

Read about this leavener HERE

Lard or Shortening:

I believe consuming a good balance of natural non-processed foods is important to a healthful diet. Eating moderate amount of saturated fats should be part of that balance We all used to squirm at the notion of eating it, but the key to successfully making flavorful pau/bao, is the use of fresh natural lard.  Well, the choice is yours, lard or Crisco shortening which has 50% less saturated fat than butter and 0g trans fat per serving.  Although shortening lacks flavor, it does not discolor the pau/bao.  Cooking oil can be used but it will give a tinge of beige.

Instant Yeast:

It is a high potency, fast acting yeast that can be added directly to your dry ingredients without it having to be activated in water first.

A starter dough is needed.

What is a Starter Doug(Bao zong).? 

A starter is made by mixing yeast, flour and water then leaving it covered in a warm place to ferment,  Once it ferments, becoming foamy, bubbly and smelling sour and yeasty, it is ready.  The first batch of breads that you make using new starter dough may not be as flavorful.  But, the longer the starter dough has been maintained, over time, the dough will become more stable and sour, adding flavor and texture to the paus/baos  In the Dim Sum restaurants where starters are used daily, a larger portion will be made and the remainder of which is constantly replenished by regular scheduled additions of flour and water, making it ever ready when needed.  Usually, 50 grams of starter dough is left behind and replenished by mixing in 600 grams flour and 300 ml water(more might be needed to make mixture into a wetter dough).  Leave to ferment another 12 hours OR UNTIL FOAMY and YEASTY.  If you are not planning to use the starter dough within the next 24 hours, refrigerate it.  It will keep for up to 2 months.  To use, remove from refrigerator ahead of time and leave at room temperature until the starter has lost it's chill.  Again, know your climatic atmosphere as it will affect the readiness of the starter dough, it might take longer for me and faster for friends in the tropic.  It also depends on the amount of yeast used too, I am very impatient, and if i used the least of yeast, it will take me 4 days before it gets foamy and yeasty.  So, I used 1 teaspoon and added 1 tablespoon of sugar, yeast is so much in love with sugar and my starter dough was ready in 4 hours.

How to make the Starter Dough:

Mix 8 ozs pau flour with 1 tsp instant yeast, 1 tbsp fine granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water for a start.  Adjust water, a little at a time, until a slightly wet dough is achieved.  Cover with a plastic wrap and prick a few holes on the wrap.  Leave this dough to ferment until FOAMY AND YEASTY. (my starter dough was ready in 4 hrs).

To Make the Pau/Bao Dough:


4 ozs Starter Dough
2 ozs fine granulated sugar
1 tsp double action baking powder
1/2 tsp Ammonium bicarbonate
A tiny drop of potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution a.k.a. Kan Sui
3 tsp water
1 tbsp lard/shortening
9 tbsp/80 gms pau flour


Weigh 4 ozs of starter dough and add in 2 ozs fine granulated sugar.  Mix these 2 together well until the sugar is dissolved. 

Mix 1/2 tsp double action baking powder, 1/2 tsp ammonium bicarbonate, a drop of kan sui with 2 tsp water.  Mix to dissolve and add in to starter dough mixture.  Mix well to combine.

Add in 9 tbsp pau flour  and knead to a soft dough.  (a little more water might be needed as it depends on how wet the starter dough is). Add in 1 tbsp lard/shortening and knead well. Flatten dough and spread it out, dissolve 1/2 tsp double action baking powder with 1 tsp water, rub this all over the spread out dough, Fold the dough in and knead well, so that all the baking powder is well spread.  Dough is ready to be divided into 8 - 10 portions, depending on how big a pau/bao you want.

Flatten one portion and put 1 tsp of Char Siew Filling.  Pick up the edges and wrap up the filling, make sure that there is more dough on top, it will ensure smiling blossom.  You do not have to pleat just ensure that the edges are sealed well.  Place filled pau/bao on top of a piece of parchment paper, put it onto a steamer and cover with a damp cloth.  Continue to fill up the other portions.

Bring the water and 1 tbsp vinegar in a steamer to high boil.

Spray the filled paus/baos with water lightly, do not drown them and put to steam for 12 minutes.  Ensure that the water is on boiling high and DO SEAL the edges of the cover with wet towels, to seal in the heat.  The hotter the steam, the better the SMILE.

When the paus/baos are ready, remove from the steamer and allow it to cool.  Do not serve them as the smell of the ammonium bicarbonate has not dissipate.  Before serving, steam the paus/baos for another 12 minutes.

Post a Comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...