Chinese steamed buns is a main staple food in northern China and this Chinese sugar bun is a special member. Different traditional pork buns or buns, sugar is used as filling. Originally, when there is extra wrappers, people will use sugar as the filling. Then it is figured out that sugar buns are also excellent in taste. Besides the filling, those sugar buns are usually folded up as a triangle so it is also named as sugar triangle (糖三角) in Chinese.
I highly recommend beginner to try this sugar buns. They are so delicious and easy to make if one time proofing method is used. I have simplified the process maximumly so the whole make process can be quite easy and quick. You can enjoy those buns within 15 minutes of preparation and 1 hour in total. Comparing with two time proofing buns, this method is super good for commonly daily cooking.
A food flavor of the steamed buns comes from two parts, the well fermented dough and lovely filling. Sometimes, you will find the skin are not so smooth especially for beginners, which is mainly caused by the air inside the dough. It is ok to accept bumpy surface since it will not influence the taste very much. More kneading practice or longer kneading time can solve the problem. If you pursue a better looking, after divide the dough, knead the wrapper dough for another 1 or 2 minutes to remove the air bubbles. I will show the technique in the next bun video of black sesame buns. Portion re-kneading (second kneading) brings chewier texture and finer texture, but requires more time. If we skip the kneading process after dividing, the bun will be softer and fluffy with larger bubble holes inside. So it is all about the balancing of time and flavor. I get the comparison of the two versions
Cook’s note for wrappers
- I use a one time proofing method for the wrapper, which greatly save the time and make the buns more fluffy and less chewy. You can resort to a traditional Chinese pork bun or Chinese steamed buns method of two proofing method (二发法). By the way, the yeast is also increased so the buns can be well proofed within a short time. It is quite important to control the temperature and fresh fresh yeast if using one proofing method.
- In summer, you can use room temperature water, but warm water is quite necessary to activate the yeast in winter.
- I recommend the oven proofing method. Place the boiling hot water in oven to increase both the temperature and humidity. It is the best solution for proofing in cold days if you don't get a fermentation tank.
Note for the filling
- I use around 4 tablespoons of brown sugar with ¾ tablespoon of flour. The purpose of adding flour is to add some consistency so the filling won't run everywhere when eating.
- Then I place around 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds to enhance the flavor. You can use other nuts.
- The filling can be extremely hot after steamed. So be careful when eating.
To fold the special triangle, place the wrapper in hand and press one edges out(pinch half of the wrapper together) and then use both hand to press the wrapper to a basic triangle and then seal each side carefully.
Place the assembled buns in a lined steamer and set aside for proofing.
There are several tips for judging whether the buns are well fermented.
- Use your eye, the buns should be at least 1.5 time in size. Grow greatly and the pinched pleats will be weakened.
- Smell, the well fermented dough has a natural wheat aroma.
- Touch, if you slightly press the dough, it can return very quickly. You can feel it is fluffy.
Set up the steamer (both cold water and hot water can work ) and steam for 12 minutes after the water boils. Turn off the fire and rest for 5 minutes. I have shown how to check the buns before steaming. See, how sweet and lovely it is. The buns can be frozen after cooled down in air-tight bag.
Chinese Sugar Buns
For the sugar filling
- ¾ tbsp. flour
- 4 tbsp. brown sugar powder
- 1 tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
For the dough and wrapper
- 300 g all-purpose flour , around 2 cups
- 2 tsp. instant yeast around 3g
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 150 ml water , + 10ml more for adjusting
- 1 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
- a small pinch of salt
To make the filling
- Mix brown sugar with flour and sesame seeds. Slightly crush to remove any bumps.
- Add flour, salt, sugar, vegetable cooking oil and water in a large bowl. The dough should be kneaded for 8 to 10 minutes until very smooth in surface and becomes white (because we only knead once). Shape the dough into a long log and divide into 10 portions.
- Place around ¾ tablespoons of filling in center. Assemble the dough as triangle. Rest the buns in room temperature for 1 hour (20 degree C in room temperature) until they are 1.5 times in size and can recovery very quickly if you press the skin. In winter days, I love to place them in an oven with a plate of hot boiling water at the bottom. This can speed up the proofing in cold weather.
- Set up the steamer with cold water and steam for 12 minutes. Then rest for another 5 minutes. Enjoy hot!