The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chinese Bread

varda's picture

I have been making the same loaf of bread since Sunday and it's not even sourdough.   It is my first Pain de Mie, using the formula that Syd posted here.    Usually when people tell me what a lot of work it must be to make bread, I say it doesn't take much time or effort - mostly you let the dough do the work.   That does not hold for this bread.   Syd's instructions say to work this dough until it either has a gossamer windowpane, or your arms cramp up.   Since my arms never cramped up even though they were (and still are) extremely tired, I worked the dough with a few short breaks for an hour and 10 minutes.   No gym today.   In theory I could have used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.   In practice it would probably have been the last time I used it.   

Since I have never made/bought/eaten this type of bread before I have no idea if it came out the way it should.  

I will say it's the most flavorful white bread I've ever tasted.  

A few baking notes:

The third day of the formula, or baking day, calls for "whole egg 140g."   I thought maybe ostrich egg?    I clicked through to the site that Syd referenced hoping for some clarification.  Unfortunately I can't read Chinese characters so no help there.   I ended up putting in 3 medium eggs which came to 156g.   Comparing my crumb to Syd's his seems to be a lot whiter, so that may have been incorrect.  

Update:   Syd's instructions call for heating the milk for the first mix (the water roux) but not for the next two.   I scalded for each of these because that's just what I do, but didn't know if it was necessary or not.  

During mixing, the dough stayed fragile until around 40 minutes.    At around 50 minutes it seemed to be getting stronger and silkier.   I went back to the Chinese site to see if they had any pictures of what it should look like.   They did.   I wasn't there yet so I kept going until an hour and ten minutes, at which point it was strong enough to twirl around like a pizza.   

Syd didn't mention steam, and I wasn't sure if that is called for in this type of bread.   Google translate was no help.   I finally decided to do steam for the first 15 minutes.   I baked one slightly smaller loaf in a pyrex bread pan (5 x 9 x 2.5 inches) and the second in my short Pullman (4 x 9 x 4).   Since I was reasonably sure that I wouldn't repeat the disaster of a few days ago where my attempt at a second Borodinsky went very wrong, I decided to cover the Pullman.   It didn't overflow.   It did reach the top.   My first success in covered Pullman baking.   I baked the Pyrex loaf at 356F (180C) for 35 minutes and the Pullman loaf for 40.   Could probably have baked each longer, but I didn't want to push it.   These aren't supposed to be crusty loaves after all, given that Pain de Mie seems to mean Crumb Bread.   (Sounds better in French.)  

Update:  I divided dough as 956g of dough into the Pullman and 820g into the Pyrex. 

So I have now baked an Asian Pain de Mie or a facsimile thereof.   Wonder how a French Pain de Mie would differ.   Just about everything I'm doing here is new to me.  I have certainly never hand-worked dough for over an hour before - maximum maybe 25 minutes.   Any suggestions for improvements are decidedly welcome.  

Oh, and incidentally this is either the 4th or 5th of Syd's formulas that I have tried, or around half of the number posted.   More please!  They are most interesting and excellent.

Bonus Rye Malt

In my efforts to make a second Borodinsky more authentic than the first, I took Janet's suggestion to make Rye Malt.  While I did find a few detailed suggestions on the web for how to do this, I still found it confusing, so I hope these documented steps will be helpful.

Step 1:   Find rye berries.   --- I found them at a food co-op in Cambridge MA which seemed to have bulk berries of many different varieties.  

Step 2:   Soak for 5 hours  --- I only soaked 60g worth because I didn't know what I was doing

Step 3:  Drain, rinse, and then keep moist while the berries sprout.   In the picture below they are just starting to sprout around 16 hours after soaking is complete.   I placed a wet paper towel on top of the berries, and had to remoisten it a few times.  

Step 4:  Put on a baking tray to dry out in the oven.    The picture at the top of the post where the berries are fully sprouted was taken 23 hours after the one above.

Step 5:   Dry out at very low heat for around 2 hours.   I kept the oven between 100F and 200F by acting as the oven thermostat. 

Step 6:   Grind them up.  I used a coffee grinder.

It's certainly not red.   I have no idea if it's Borodinsky appropriate.   But I will say that my Borodinsky didn't fail because of the malt.  

gothicgirl's picture

 BBQ Pork Steam Bun 

When my husband was little his mother, who is from Taiwan, would take him along on her shopping expeditions to Chinatown in his hometown of Chicago.  As a treat, she would buy him char siu bao, or Chinese BBQ pork steamed buns.  I believe food can create memories, and passing a Chinese bakery one day a few years ago we saw some of these pale buns in the case and he was five again, shopping with his mom and munching on buns.   Of course, we bought some and boy were they good!

BBQ Pork Steam Buns 

Like anything, if I like it I want to make it, and my husband was all for that!  I tried a couple of different recipes for the bun dough and while they were ok, none were as good as what we had at that little bakery.  So, I quit making them because, frankly, who wants to eat sub-par buns?

Well, that changed quite by accident.  Last week I was browsing my favorite food blogs when I found a recipe on the most excellent, and very tasty, She Simmers  for Plain Chinese Steamed Buns.  The pictures Leela posted showed pale, fluffy buns that I could not resist. 

BBQ Pork Steam Buns 

Bright and early Sunday morning I made the dough then packed it up, along with some pork filling, to my in-law's house a couple of hours away.  During the drive the dough rose, and once we got there it sat for another hour, giving it four total hours to ferment.  When I turned it out I was afraid I had over fermented but it was just lovely!  The dough was smooth, supple, and very easy to work with.  The buns were easy to form with the pork filling inside, and after a good proof, they steamed up to fluffy awesomeness!

Char Siu Bao, or Chinese BBQ Pork Steamed Buns    Yield 12

Pork Filling:
1 lb. ground pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup Char Sui sauce (available in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

BBQ Pork Filling 

Brown the pork in the vegetable oil until the meat begins to color.  Add the garlic and green onion and cook until the meat is cooked through.

BBQ Pork Filling  

Add the Char Siu sauce and cook for five minutes, or until the sauce has caramelized slightly.

BBQ Pork Filling 

Allow to cool to room temperature.

Steamed Bun Dough    adapted from She Simmers

1/3 cup water, heated to 100F
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lard, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup water, heated to 90F

Mix the ingredients for the sponge in a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, with a spatula until uniform.  Cover and allow to ferment until the top of the dough is covered in bubbles that are beginning to break.

Add the all-purpose flour, cake flour, 1 teaspoon of the baking powder, salt, sugar, lard and water.  Mix for 2 minutes on low, then check the hydration.  It should be slightly sticky, but not wet.  If it is too wet add additional all-purpose flour by the tablespoon until the dough is no longer wet.  Mix on medium for 5 minutes.   The dough should form a ball on the dough hook and just cling to the bottom of the mixer. 

If mixing by hand, mix in the water and knead in the bowl until the dough forms a rough ball.  Turn out on a board dusted with flour and knead until the dough is smooth, about ten minutes.  Dust the board with additional four as needed to prevent sticking, but do not add too much.

Steam Bun Dough 

Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and allow to ferment for four hours.   It will rise and smell very yeasty.

Turn the dough out into a flour dusted board and press out the largest air bubbles.  Gently knead in the second teaspoon of baking powder.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and, one at a time, press into a circle.  The dough should be thinner at the edges and plump in the center.

BBQ Pork Steam Bun - Ready to Seal BBQ Pork Steam Bun - Ready to Steam

Spoon one tablespoon of the prepared pork filling into the center of the dough.  Gather up the edges and press to seal.  Place the bun seam side down on a square of wax paper.

Allow buns to proof on the counter, covered, for 1 hour.

Bamboo Steamer 

Prepare a steamer, I use a bamboo steamer set on a wok, with gently boiling water. 

Once the buns have proofed gently place them, at least 1 inch apart, in the basket of your steamer.  Cover and allow to steam for ten minutes.  Do not let the water boil too vigorously. 

BBQ Pork Steam Bun  

After ten minutes carefully remove the lid, making sure not to drip water on the buns, and remove to a plate.  Cover with a towel until ready to eat.  Steam the remaining buns.


Peel the paper off the buns and serve warm.

Poted at - 3/11/2009

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