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Saturday, 19 November 2011

When the Vikings come marching in...

Steamed Buns are popular favourites among us Chinese for our breakfast. Typically they can divided into 2 categories, the round shaped ones with fillings in them are known as Pau while the non-filled ones, traditionally rolled in a log shape and cut into pieces before steaming are known as Mantau.   However, the line differentiating them has gone blurry, paus can come without fillings and vice versa for mantaus.  They come in various flavours and shapes never imagined too!  Like this one that I saw at Wendy's, a little like the Vikings' helmets to me,  I thought they look cute :)

These steamed buns are not filled.  They had a nice sweet fragrance and natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes making them pleasing although eaten plain.  You can cut them up and spread some jam or dip them in gravy.

Verdict? They were really yummy! They rose beautifully and were soft but chewy.  They stayed soft until the next day!  I saved half the portion in a ziplock after shaping them and steamed them for freshly steamed and piping hot buns the next morning.

This was the first time I steamed them in a bamboo steamer basket which I have been planning to get for awhile.  I have read that they give the best  results for paus and other steam cakes.  After finding one the right size which I bought for RM30, I couldn't wait to try it out.   This basket sits on top of another pot of boiling water, steam then enters through the open slates at the bottom of the basket and contained in the basket by its lid.  Bamboo absorbs condensation ensuring water does not drip back onto the buns which allowed them to rise so beautifully without any crinkles! I love the effect, I am really convinced that these baskets do make a difference, well bought indeed!

Take a closer look at these babies :)

Source : Table for 2 or more... (this is 1/2 the portion which gave me roughly around 16 buns...can't remember exactly)

  • 250gm pau flour (cake flour)
  • 125gm steamed orange sweet potato
  • 50gm sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp double action baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 20gm shortening, melted
  • 6gm yeast 
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 75ml water
If like me, you are using a machine to knead, skip steps 1-7 but follow through step 6.  I used my breadmaker to knead the dough, I put everything in the recommended order, i.e. liquid (water, melted shortening), sugar, salt, followed by flour (sifted and mix with baking powder), mashed sweet potato and lastly yeast.  

  1. Proof yeast with 1/4 tsp sugar and water until it froths.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. 
  3. Knead in steamed sweet potatoes. 
  4. Flour mixture will look crumbly. 
  5. Pour in frothy yeast mixture and combine to form a dough. Knead until dough no longer sticky and turns smooth. 
  6. Add more flour if it's too sticky or more water(by the teaspoon) if it's way too dry, (if unable to gather all the flour into a dough).  
  7. When dough is smooth, knead in melted shortening, until dough no longer feels oily.
  8. Leave to proof until double, about an hour.
  9. Punch down and knead for another minute. Divide dough into 35gm pieces, and shape as u like.  For these helmets, roll the dough flat in a triangular shape, roll them up and pinch two ends together tightly to make sure they don't open up.  Hop over to Wendy's for a pictorial guide on how to shape.  Other easier methods would be making them into round balls or just rolling them up without trying to pull it into a triangular shape.  
  10. Leave to proof until shaped bun doubles. 
  11. Steam on high heat for 12-15 minutes.


Your steamed buns are nicely shaped. Very orangey colour. Thinking of having steaming basket too. How big is yours? RM 30 for 1 base n lid right? Have to find the right size for my 32cm wok.

@Vivian: Thanks for visiting and the compliment too. The basket is 32cm while my wok is 42cm (i should have selected a size bigger). Yes, RM30 for base and lid, but they were actually priced separately for those who might want to buy more base.

these are perfect!! now you're making me want to get a bamboo steamer too! any difference in texture for that half portion that you put them in fridge after shaping them? i've not tried that before, i normally put them in the fridge only after steaming it.

i also like to use bamboo steamer to steam buns, love the nice bamboo fragrance after baked. Love how you shape it like croissant.

@Lena:Thanks for compliment. Go get yourself a bamboo steamer, I am sure you will not regret it and put it to good use :) No difference with the ones kept overnight, in fact i think it rose better than the ones i did the previous night(probably i didnt wait for it to rise long enough). I think i will continue to do so.

@Sonia: Bamboo steamers do make a difference,right? Thanks to Wendy for sharing how to shape this cute looking buns :)

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