Chinese Fold-Over Buns

Chinese Fold-Over Buns are the naked version of those steamed pork buns that dim sum lovers can’t get enough of.  Having a unique pocket-like shape, Chinese Fold-Over Buns eliminate the need for pre-stuffing buns, which is one of the more complicated steps in bun making.  After a quick steam, these tender pillows are ready to serve with a cooked filling of your choice.

If you want the texture and look of your buns to be similar to the kind you get at a Chinese restaurant, search for some bun flour, also called Hong Kong or bao flour, at your local Asian market.  Hong Kong flour is a flour that’s lower in gluten than all-purpose (AP) flour.  It steams up fluffier, whiter, and brighter than buns just made with plain AP flour.  Look for the flour package that has white, steamed buns on it and you should be good to go.

If you prefer to use all-purpose flour that you can find at a regular American grocery store that’s fine too.  I would suggest making a blend of all-purpose and cake flours, where for every 1 cup of flour in this recipe, you use 3/4 cups of AP and 1/4 cups of cake flour.  This flour blend will give you a bun texture closer to that of Chinese restaurant buns, but they still won’t be as white and fluffy as the buns made with Hong Kong flour.

These Fold-Over Buns actually take to freezing very well.  If you don’t plan on eating them right away, set them aside to cool to room temperature after they’ve been steamed off and then place them in ziplock bags to place in the freezer.  When you are ready to use them later, just remove them from the zip locks and steam until them until they get soft and warm throughout.  You could also warm them in the microwave, but they will get a bit tougher and chewier this way.

And while we are talking about having extra buns stashed in the freezer, here are some more ways that you could enjoy these tender, soft bun pockets:

* Chinese Roasted Duck, Scallions, & Hoisin Sauce (the classic)

* Kalua Pork & Pickled Red Onions

* Store-bought Roasted Chicken & Olive Tapenade

* Korean BBQ & Kim Chee

* Teriyaki Chicken & Pickled Ginger

* Smoked Salmon & Capers

* Cucumber & Herbed Cream Cheese

* Pastrami & Sauerkraut

* Applewood Smoked Bacon & Tomato

* Roasted Turkey & Roquefort Bleu Cheese

* Fried Chicken & Sweet Pickles

* Hummus & Sun Dried Tomatoes

* Black Forest Ham & Gruyère

* Nutella & Strawberries

* Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly

Ok, you get my point. The buns are extremely versatile.  They are the original version of crustless tea sandwich bread!

In my upcoming posts, I’ll be giving you even more ideas on how use this very versatile bun dough.  For today, I’m pairing these beautiful buns with my recipe for Kalua Pork and Pickled Red Onions for a true taste of Hawaii.  My slow cooker recipe for Kalua Pork uses Lapsang Souchong tea to give the luscious meat a gentle, smoky savoriness.  The recipe takes about 5 minutes of real work and then some patience, but the results are totally worth it.

And if you don’t have patience, store-bought roasted chicken can be stuffed into these buns for a tasty and easy meal.  Pair these with a hot, soothing cup of Asian tea and you’ll be enjoying the simplest of gourmet meals.

Chinese Fold-Over Buns

Makes 12 large buns.

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups Hong Kong flour

3/4 cup water + 1-2 Tbsp more if needed

2 tsp SAF instant yeast

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp non-fat dry milk powder

1/4 tsp fine salt

4 Tbsp powdered sugar

2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

extra oil for coating proofing bowl

Equipment:

stand mixer with mixing bowl and hook attachment

large whisk

large proofing bowl

plastic wrap

work surface

bamboo steamer

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer

rolling-pin or scale

parchment, to line steamer

Directions:

1.)  Using the bowl of a stand mixer, place all the dry dough ingredients into the mixing bowl. Use a large whisk to stir all the dry ingredients together, so that they become evenly incorporated.  Place the bowl in the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and start to mix on low-speed.  Add the water and oil.  Continue to mix on low-speed.  If the dough isn’t coming together after 3 minutes and looks dry, gradually add 1-2 Tbsp of water until the dough comes together.  Continue to knead the dough on low for an extra 10-15 minutes until the shaggy mass becomes a soft and supple ball of dough.

Pull off a piece of the dough and conduct a windowpane test, where you gently try to pull the dough out into a very thin membrane-like sheet that does not tear.  If you aren’t able to do this easily and the dough breaks apart, continue to knead the dough on low-speed for 2-3 more minutes, then try this windowpane test again.  Passing the windowpane test means that the dough has been sufficiently kneaded.

2.)  Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl to proof, coating all sides of the dough with some of the same oil.  Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough proof in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes or until the mass has doubled in volume.

3.)  After the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and transfer it to a work surface.  Give the dough a few light kneadings, then roll the dough out into a rectangle, and portion it out into 12 equal pieces (see below).  You can also use a scale if you prefer.  Roll out each of the 12 dough pieces into a ball.

4.)  Place any dough balls that you aren’t immediately using under clear wrap to prevent them from drying out.  Roll each ball into an oval shape about a 1/4″ in thickness (just eyeball it).  Try to keep the thickness of the dough even throughout in each piece.  Fold one half of each oval onto itself to create a half-moon looking bun. 

5.)  Place buns in a bamboo steamer lined with parchment, then cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the buns rise for about 15-20 minutes in a warm, draft free place, long enough for them to have just doubled in puffiness.  Meanwhile, fill a large wok or stockpot up with water to a depth of 4″.  Set the water on high heat to reach a full boil.

6.)  Place bamboo steamer filled with risen buns on top of wok or stockpot, place steamer lid on, and steam the buns for about 8 minutes, or until they are light, fluffy, and puffy.  Your Chinese Fold-Over Buns are now ready to be stuffed with a filling of your choice, or you can even eat them plain…enjoy!

PB & J.  You thought I was just kidding, didn’t ya?

4 thoughts on “Chinese Fold-Over Buns

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