If you haven’t tried Chinese baked goods, it’s safe to say you’ve yet to experience dough, sugar and cream to the fullest of their potential. I have a propensity toward going to the local Cantonese bakery, eating most of what I buy and then bringing the dwindling remainders home to my family, hoping that they don’t discover my greedy little secret. It was high time for me to create these delights in my own kitchen, and the Chinese New Year seemed like the perfect occasion. These pomelo custard buns are a bit of a riff on the usual, with the addition of the pomelo creating a tarter, fruitier flavour in the creamy filling. Though these treats will take a couple hours to create, most of that time is spent waiting for the dough to rise, and the process is decidedly no more difficult than making bread.
1 tablespoon Just Us organic sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk, warm
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon baking powder mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 package (or 1/2 a cup) Dr. Oetker’s Creme Brûlée mix
1/4 cup cornstarch
Scant 1/2 cup Just Us organic sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup pomelo juice (approximately 1/2 of a pomelo, with the rind removed and run through a juicer)
2 tablespoons butter
For the Custard Filling
Combine the custard powder, cornstarch and sugar in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk and stir over low heat until the mixture is fully incorporated. Gradually add the beaten egg. Increase the heat to medium and continue to whisk constantly. The custard will thicken and begin to bubble. Add in the pomelo juice. Continue to heat and stir until the mixture is very thick and no longer tastes of the cornstarch. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and allow to cool.
For the Dough
Place the first quantity of sugar and yeast in the warm water and allow to stand for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Whisk together the shortening, second quantity of sugar, the yeast mixture and the milk, and then combine with the flour. Using your hands or a stand mixer, knead for approximately 10 minutes, adding flour to make the dough easier to work with as necessary. Use the vegetable oil to grease the outside of the dough and place in a bowl. Cover and allow to rest and rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
After the first rise, punch down the down and flatten it until it is about 3/4” thick. Spread the baking powder and water mixture on the dough. Roll it up and knead again (or use the dough hook of your stand mixer) for another 10 minutes. The resulting dough should be soft and smooth, and firmer than regular bread dough. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into four equal parts. Roll out each quarter until it is approximately 1 1/4” in diameter. Break these lengths of dough into 6 equal pieces using your fingers to tear the dough apart rather than a knife.
Roll each piece of dough out into small circles with a rolling pin. Each round should be fairly thin – about 1/4” inch thick. Place 1-2 tablespoons of custard filling in the centre of each dough circle. Gather the edges of the dough by pleating them counterclockwise, and then twisting them to seal the top. Place the finished buns on a piece of parchment paper, cover with a dish towel and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Steam the buns. I found that 2-3 minutes per bun in a microwave steamer did the trick. If using a traditional steamer, steam for 8-10 minutes.
Waipara Jacks Canyon Pinot Gris – New Zealand: aromatic wine with varietal aromas of fresh pears, lemons, lime and light tropical notes. The palate is rich and complex with delicate fruit flavours.
Jess hosts the blog The Purple House Cafe. It’s all about taste and good intentions, and the belief that “healthy, wholesome food” is made with love. http://www.purplehousecafe.com