Looking to try something a little different, try steamed yeast rolls, Bao and fill with your favorite taco fillings. Takes a few steps but light and fluffy and and a fun way to eat tacos.
I have to admit, I had never heard of bao until we ordered it at a new restaurant in town that is specializing in food truck food. I’m not sure this is something they actually serve from a food truck, it seems a little time intensive. In any event, I thought they were great and couldn’t believe I had never had them before. We looked up a recipe, and it’s not for the faint of heart. We also learned that you really need to eat them while they are warm which might be why it’s hard to make in a restaurant situation.
Bao is a steam filled bun or bread like item made with yeast and common in Chinese Cuisine. It’s also called baozi.
The recipe I tried was from the Epicurous website which I knew would be reliable. Not having any experience steaming anything but vegetables, I wanted to make sure someone knew what they were doing. Basically this is just steamed yeast dough. Steaming dough gives it an odd texture, fluffy and light but not as bready as a dinner roll. We filled ours with pork and mozzarella. We just couldn’t get over how delicious these were. Slightly sweet, light and pretty unusual for a Southern girl who hasn’t experimented with Asian cooking.
To make these, you start with a yeast dough and let it rise. It’s not going to be quite as light as dinner rolls might be. Once it has risen, we rolled it out and used a stadium cup to cut circles that we thought would be a good size to hold the ingredients. You can make them bigger or smaller but a stadium cup was just perfect for us. Brush oil on one side of your circle and fold it in half. The oil keeps it from sticking together while they cook. We let them rise a bit and then placed them in a steamer on a piece of parchment paper. The paper keeps them from sticking to the bottom of the steamer. Cover them and let them steam for a few minutes.
These are a bit of work and do require a steamer. I don’t know how you could make these without one. Once they are done cooking wrap them in a towel and put them back in the steamer, turn off the heat and cover and they will stay warm for a few minutes while you are getting the toppings together. These were so good that I think they will replace tortillas in our house. At least on those occasions when we have time to make yeast dough. For the filling, use anything that you might put in a quesadilla or taco.
Bao (Steamed Yeast Rolls)
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ teaspoon yeast
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons non-fat dried milk
- 3 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- Add yeast to ¼ cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes. Whisk in dried milk and remaining ¾ cup warm water.
- In an electric stand mixer, add 3 cups of flour and sugar. Add yeast mixture and combine with a fork. On low speed knead dough with dough hook for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, adding additional flour if it is too sticky to handle. Put in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Punch down dough and flatten into a disk. Sprinkle baking powder over the center of the dough, gather edges of dough and pinch to seal in baking powder. Knead until it is incorporated about 5 minutes. Return to oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place for 30 minutes.
- Form dough into a 16-inch long log. Cut into 16 equal pieces and cover working with one piece at a time. Roll into a circle. (We use a 4 inch stadium cup to make a perfect circle) Brush half of circle lightly with oil and fold in half crosswise. Do not pinch. Place each bun on a piece of wax paper and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and cover with plastic wrap and let rise slightly for 30 minutes.
- Using a steamer, bring water to a boil. Carefully place 5-7 buns on the wax paper in the steamer rack. The buns should not touch. Cover tightly and leave over high heat until buns are puffed and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs and discard paper. Wrap in a towel, not terry cloth, to keep warm. When you have finished, turn off heat and place towel with buns inside in the steamer and cover to keep warm.