Roll up your sleeves: this one's tricky
Taiwanese steamed bao buns have been having a bit of a moment in London, where there's regularly crowds snaking round the block hoping to get their hands on the fluffy, porky, sticky buns of glory.
Never ones to be sitting ducks on a foodie trend, we decided to give them a go ourselves – and the results were pretty epic. Here's how we did it, but be warned – these are a lot more involved than giving your local Taiwanese restaurant a call. Thankfully, the taste more than makes up for it, as does the praise you'll be showered in by your pals. Smug inducing stuff.
What you'll need
- 2 sachets fast-action dried yeast
- 550g plain flour, plus extra for shaping
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50ml milk
- Drizzle of sunflower oil, plus extra for shaping
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
Knead the dough
You can obviously do this stage by hand, but popping everything in a mixer with a dough hook makes everything a lot easier. All you'll need to do is dissolve the yeast in 200ml tepid water with a pinch of salt, then chuck all the dry ingredients in the mixer and add the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and let it do its work for 15-20 minutes, or until the dough looks smooth and springs back when you poke it with your finger.
Knock it back
When the dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm, dry place for two hours, or until it's doubled in side. At this stage, give it a good punch to 'knock it back'. This bit is a lot more fun that it probably should be for an adult.
Make small balls of dough
Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and roll it into a long sausage shape about 4cm thick. Cut the dough into 12 equal sections, then roll each section into a ball by pinching the edges underneath and rolling the dough between your hands. Leave to rest for three minutes.
Shape the buns
Flatten the balls of dough slightly and use a rolling pin to make them into flat ovals. Pat the surface with sunflower oil and fold the ovals in half. Place the buns in a roasting tin, cover with a damp cloth and leave for another hour and a half or until they've puffed up.
Lay the puffed-up buns in the bottom of a steamer lined with greaseproof paper or tinfoil greased with a little oil. Steam over water on a medium high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the buns are light and fluffy.
Add some toppings
You can fill your buns with virtually anything, but we love adding sticky pulled pork, chopped chilli, beansprouts, spring onion and shredded lettuce.
Fill 'em up
Fill them high and serve them immediately. Not that any of your mates will let them hang around for long.