The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chinese steamed sweet pastry (Bok Hong Tay)

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mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

Chinese steamed sweet pastry (Bok Hong Tay)

OK, so I just posted a recipe for Mochi, which is a non-yeasted dough.  This is "The Fresh Loaf," so I should also give a recipe that is at least yeasted.  Here is my Mom's version of bok hong tay, a sweet steamed rice cake.  Its name is literally "white sweet pastry" in Chinese.  You sometimes see it in Chinese restaurants for dimsum.  My Mom always made it on the thin side, but the restaurants tend to make a thicker version. 

  • 4 c long grain rice
  • water
  • 1 pkg dry yeast (I've made this with regular and rapid-rise and they both work for this)
  • 4 c and 1 tablespoon sugar

Wash the rice well and then drain all water. Add to it 4 c of water and let the rice soak overnight in the water (room temperature).

The next day, put the rice-water mix in a blender and whip it smooth (hint: do this in small batches, with a rice-water slurry that is about 80-90% rice. This allows it to blend very smooth. Add the remaining water after it is all blended).

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 c of lukewarm water, the dry yeast and 1 tbsp sugar. Wrap bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot for approx 1 hr. Then add the proofed yeast mixture to the rest of the blended rice/water mixture and let stand at room temperature for 4-5 hrs.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 c water and 4 c sugar. If necessary, add heat to make all of the sugar dissolve. Be sure that the sugar syrup has cooled to room temperature before adding to the rice/water mixture. After adding the sugar syrup, let the mixture stand for another 1/2 hr before cooking the pastry.

To cook: Pour some of the mixture into a well-oiled cake pan (approx. 1/4 inch deep.  Again, my Mom prefered to make this on the thin side, but if you like, you can make it thicker, just adjust the cooking time). Steam the mixture for 15 min (be sure that the water is vigorously boiling). After the pastry is done, brush some oil on the top (note: if the oil had be previously heated to near smoking temp, and then cooled to room temperature, the resultant oil would taste better for brushing on the pastry.  I don't know why this is true, but according to my Mom that the way she always did it.).  When the bok hong tay has cooled down, cut out wedges of the pastry and serve. 

Enjoy, now I have to get back to work on my grant. 

Mr. Peabody

Comments

Floydm's picture
Floydm

A little over a year ago for the Lunar New Year (pig, not rat) I posted my first try at making red bean buns and mentioned my budding Sinophilia. In the year since then, I finished Outlaws of the Marsh, read the Journey to the West as well as another half dozen or so books on contemporary China, subscribed to a couple of podcasts on learning Mandarin, contemplated enrolling in a Mandarin class at the local community college, and changed my commute so that I can hit the local Hong Kong-style bakery on the way to work everyday. Even my kids have caught the bug: my son requested a a Shaolin monk on his birthday cake this year, and my daughter is obsessed with lion and dragon dances.

You are probably right that most of the folks on TFL are a more interested in the crusty, yeasted (or sourdough) kind of breads, but I love learning about these kinds of recipes and appreciate you posting it here. I definitely would like to try this one.

Good luck with your grant.

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

I have my grandmother's recipe for Char Siu bau.  Unfortunately, like all grandmothers, her recipe makes huge numbers of buns (When I visited her last year, she woke up at 3 AM to make all sort of Chinese dumplings and buns because her grandson and her greatgrandsons were visiting).

I've made the red bean paste from scratch before.  It's just cooked azuki beans mashed with some sugar.  When I was a boy, my parents could not find azuki beans, so they made this same paste using red kidney beans.

Mr. Peabody

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

Those buns that look like "melon bread" are the Chinese equivalent called Bo Lor Bau (literally pineapple bun").  Like the Japanese melon bread, these are called "pineapple" because of how they look as there is no pineapple flavorings in them.

Mr. Peabody

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Right. Yes, it took trying them to figure that out that they weren't pineapple flavored.

I get a couple of their red bean buns almost every day (baked buns, not steamed). They come out of the oven about 5 minutes before I swing by, are as big as your fist, and cost only 80 cents each. Can't beat that.

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

Hopefully when things are less crazy, I'll give the melon bread/pineapple bun a try.

There is a Chinatown here in Philly, but it would be an out of the way drive for me to get to a Chinese bakery there.  Still, my boys wouldn't be able to eat anything there, so I'll have to make these myself.

My grandmother also makes the baked red bean buns, but I always prefer the roast pork ones.

 I notice that the bakery is in Portland.  I grew up in Seattle.

Mr. Peabody

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I grew up in the Bay Area, so I've always been around a fair amount of Asian food and culture. One of my earliest memories from when I was about 3 is sitting in the park there in San Francisco's Chinatown feeding pigeons while eating an Almond Cookie the size of my head.

Portland's old Chinatown is pretty run down and would be out of the way for me too. The SE 82nd Avenue area is the real heart of Portland Chinese and Vietnamese communities now and is on my way to and from work. Though it isn't real pretty (mostly strip malls), there is some great stuff in that neighborhood now: two or three Chinese bakeries, a couple of very good dim sum joints, 2 Vietnamese bakeries, at least 4 or 5 pho places, 3 or 4 bahn mi places (including a drive-through), one Asian mall completed with another in development, bookstores, video stores, and more. It is definitely my favorite part of town to grab a bite.

Your boys' allergies must make eating out tough. Unfortunate but, as you've said, an upside is that it gives you added motivation to learn how to make these things yourself.

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

you can find some decent ethnic foods outside of downtown.  Here in Philly, the "Chinese food" outside of the city is pretty horrendous.  I know that when we visit my parents in Seattle.  They don't have to go to Chinatown for groceries and restaurants. Although they live outside the city, their town has grocery stores with a wide range of Asian produce, supplies, and a few decent restaurants.

Yes, because of food allergy concerns, eating out as a family can be difficult.  But it is true that we've learned to make many things out of necessity.  And learning to make these things have been fun when I can find the time.

Mostly, I lurk around this website to pick up a few tips and drool over the pictures of many of the posters here.  It gives me something to shoot for.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Heh, same here.