Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plum Buns!

Pardon the not so great pictures. This post is a result of impulse behaviors. The first was buying the steamer at goodwill, the second was deciding yesterday morning that I had to make mantoh rightnow!

Mantoh are steamed buns. There are oodles of recipes out there, but it's just bread cooked in a steamer. Dad made them all the time when I was a kid. I never really liked them except when they were fresh out of the cooker, because they develop a very stiff texture once they cool. But, nostalgia is a strange thing, and I was all antsy to use the steamer for something.

I took the first plain white bread recipe I found online:

1 cup water
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

and I put it in the dough cycle on my bread machine before I ran out the door to go to work.

When I got home, I punched all the air out of the dough and kneaded it down some. I wanted to work as many of the large bubbles out of the dough as possible. I divided the dough into 8 pieces, and put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of plum jam in each one. I oiled the steamer trays a bit, set the buns in them, then let them proof for about 20 minutes, which was just enough time to get the water boiling really hard in the reservoir pan. 30 minutes of steaming seems to be the right amount of time.

Some notes for next time:

1. Less salt, unless I'm using a savory filling. I want a char siu recipe.
2. The ones that broke open were the ones I put in the trays with the part of the dough where I had pinched the bun shut facing up. Obviously they needed to be sitting on their seals in order not to explode.
3. I think I made the dough a little too soft. When dad made filled buns they were bao dze. He had some method of pinching them closed that created a little swirly pattern on top like a nut had been screwed into 'em.
4. Possibly, I over-proofed the dough. They might hold their shape better if I made the buns as soon as the dough was ready to use.
5. The plum jam was the same as I used last year for making tang yuan. I almost never want it, but it sure is nice to have in the freezer when I do, because it is an almighty nuisance to make.
6. Lastly, another of the miracles of modern technology: microwave ovens. To overcome the rubbery texture these things acquire after cooling, re-heat them on the defrost setting for about a minute. The low power will help avoid the phenomenon of leathery microwaved bread.

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