Chinese Baked Pork Bun (烘烤肉包子)

In my personal opinion, this was probably the most challenging dish I’ve done so far. Not only was it time-consuming; it was also physically and mentally draining, given the amount of preparations required beforehand as well as the amount of energy expended during the kneading. Take a look at the long list of ingredients to see what I mean.

Being engaged in the whole process of bun making gave me a strangely familiar feeling. The weariness at the last stage of baking emulates my refusal to sum up and conclude my dissertation. Worse, you don’t get to see what you’re going to get until the very end, which makes the whole undertaking kind of scary. You keep wondering about whether your dough will rise to the challenge, just like how I keep asking myself if my dissertation will eventually make the mark.

That’s how stressed up I am at the moment.

Ingredients for filling:

  • Minced pork: 400g
  • Corn flour: 2 tsp
  • Water: 4 tbsp
  • Fish sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Dark soy sauce: 1 tbsp
  • 5-spice powder: 1 tsp
  • White pepper: 1/2 tsp
  • Sesame oil: 2 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Frying oil: 3 tbsp
  • Ginger: 2 tsp, chopped
  • Preserved vegetable: 50g (2 tbsp)
  • Shitake mushroom: 4, washed and chopped
  • Water chestnut: 100g, chopped

Ingredients for dough:

(A)

  • Instant dried yeast: 1/2 tbsp (about 1/2 a 7g sachet)
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Plain flour: 1/4 cup
  • Warm water: 1/4 cup

(B)

  • Plain flour: 1 and 3/4 cups
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 and 1/4 tbsp
  • Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
  • Baking soda: 1 pinch
  • Warm water: 1/2 cup
  • Baking powder: 1/2 tsp

Ingredients for baking:

  • Egg white: 1, beaten
  • Water: 1 tsp
  • Sugar: 1/4 tsp
  • Melted butter: 1 tsp
  • Honey: 1/2 tsp

Method:

  1. Marinate pork with all the filling ingredients except for oil, ginger, vegetables, mushrooms and chestnuts.
  2. Leave to marinate overnight or for 3 hrs.
  3. Heat up oil in wok. Fry ginger till fragrant.
  4. Add vegetables and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 1min.
  5. Mix in marinated pork and stir-fry on low heat for 5min.
  6. Mix in chestnuts and stir-fry quickly. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Mix all the ingredients in (A). Leave to stand for 30min till mixture bubbles and doubles in bulk.
  8. Mix all the ingredients in (B), except for baking powder, in a mixing bowl.
  9. Add mixture (A) to mixture (B). Knead on a floured surface for 10min, till smooth.
  10. Place dough in a greased bowl. Leave to proof in a warm place for 3hrs, till doubled in size.
  11. Punch the dough to release the air.
  12. Sprinkle baking powder into the centre of dough, fold in and knead again for 5min.
  13. Cut dough into 15 portions. Roll each into circles the size of your palm.
  14. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling into the centre of dough. Fold the edge towards the centre, upwards, to form a bun.
  15. Repeat the steps for the rest of the dough and fillings. Then leave the buns to rise for another 30min.
  16. Preheat oven at 180 degrees. Line a baking tray with greased papers.
  17. Place the buns seam-side down onto the tray.
  18. Glaze with egg white beaten with water and sugar. Bake for 10min till buns are just starting to turn brown.
  19. Glaze again with a mixture of honey and butter. Return to bake for another 5min.
  20. Remove from oven. Leave to rest for 5min before serving.

Tricks:

  • Placing the buns seam-sides down helps get them into perfectly round shapes.
  • The 2nd coat of glaze provides the sheen on the bun surfaces and the fragrance after the baking is completed.

Disclaimer:

  • This same recipe can also be used for making Chinese steamed pork buns. All you have to do is, instead of baking, steam them right-side up for 15mins with boiling water that has a bit of white vinegar added to it. As can be seen from the 1st picture, mine turned out too yellowish to be desired. I am quite confident though that they would turn out better if Hong Kong or strongly-bleached flour is used in place of plain flour.

Serving:
Makes about 15 medium-sized buns

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