The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.
This months Daring Bakers challenge was to make Siopao – Asian filled buns. We could fill them with any sweet or savoury filling we wanted, but the filling recipe given with the challenge was for pork. Being vegetarian, I was initially planning on making a veggie filling for mine, but after hearing that the challenge was for pork buns, my not-remotely-vegetarian fiance gave me puppy-dog eyes and pleaded with me to make pork ones for him (I may be exaggerating slightly about the pleading…). I relented as the poor man is forced to eat a vegetarian diet roughly 90% of the time as I do most of the cooking (he doesn’t complain). I don’t mind cooking a bit of meat for him every now and again and will occasionally make a batch of meat pies to store in the freezer for when he gets a craving. I figured I could do the same with the buns (I doubt he’d be able to eat twelve of them within a couple of days!).
This does mean however that my description of the buns comes entirely from him, as I was unable to try any myself. So, Damian says that the dough was very soft, springy and slightly sweet and the filling was well flavoured, the buns are very satisfying and more-ish and he was very happy. So there you go.
They were pretty quick and simple to make, the dough was one of the quickest I have ever made as it is no-knead, you simply stir everything together then cover and leave to rise. Make the filling and leave it to cool while the dough is rising, which is a simple matter of frying some onion and garlic, adding the pork and then just a couple of other ingredients, all in one pan. Easy, even a vegetarian like myself can do it! You then divide the dough up into twelve pieces, it is a little sticky, but that makes the buns softer, and also makes it easier to seal the dough around the filling so you don’t get any leaks. Roll each piece out into a disc (don’t roll them out too thin or they will split) and divide the filling between them; (a word to the wise – remember to remove the star anise from the filling…I forgot and Damian got a bit of a nasty surprise…), pinch the edges of the dough together to seal the filling inside, leave them to rise again then bake for 20 minutes.
- For the dough:
- 360ml (1 + ½ cups) lukewarm water
- 30g (2 tbsp) butter, melted
- 7g (2 tsp) fast action yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 550g (4 + ⅔ cups) plain flour
- For the pork filling:
- 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 450g (16 oz) finely diced or ground pork
- 1 star anise
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 60ml (1/4 cup) cold water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten, to glaze
- To make the dough:
- Whisk together the water, melted butter, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the flour and mix in until completely incorporated and you have a slightly sticky, tacky, but not wet, dough. Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
- Make the filling:
- Heat the oil in a largish pan, add the onion and saute for a couple of minutes, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes longer.
- Add the pork and stir anise and cook until the pork is browned then stir in the soy and oyster sauces and the sugar, continue to simmer until the pork is cooked through.
- Whisk together the cornflour and cold water, add to the pan and cook for a couple more minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the star anise and set the filling aside until cooled.
- To assemble:
- Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
- Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface, fold it over several times, it will be a bit sticky so add more flour as needed. Divide into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece out into a disc about 13cm/5in wide, don't roll it out too thin or your buns will split.
- Place a heaped tablespoon of the cooled filling into the centre of the disc, bring the edges of the dough up over the filling and pinch tightly to seal. Place the filled buns seam side down on the prepared baking sheets, well spaced apart.
- Loosely cover with greased clingfilm and set aside to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until risen and puffy.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
- Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.