Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January Sourdough Surprises - Steamed Buns

There are a few dishes that I really enjoy, but, for some reason or another, don't make all that often.  So when Sourdough Surprises chose steamed buns for the January challenge, I was excited. Because that's one of those dishes that I always enjoy, but never think to make.

The first time I made steamed buns (bao) was with the Daring Cooks. I have since made them only a handful of times, and not at all in the last year. So I couldn't wait.

The two toughest parts of this challenge for me had to do with decision making - choosing a dough recipe and choosing a filling.  There are plenty of options for both, but I finally decided on this recipe for the dough and a filling the whole family would enjoy - burgers!  

I started with the dough.  The recipe calls for a preferment to be prepared 8 hours before making the final dough. Since my kids aren't big fans of strong sourdough flavor, I decided to try the recipe with a much shorter prefermentation time - like, only one hour. I used that hour to prepare my filling.

To create the "burger" feel, I sauteed onion and browned some ground turkey, then crumbled some cooked, crispy bacon into the meat mixture.  Then had to stop myself from eating all of it directly from the pan.

While the filling cooled, I finished preparing the dough, and then got down to the nitty gritty of bun-preparation.  The recipe makes enough dough for 24 buns, but I didn't want quite so many, so I divided the dough in half and made 12.  Since little man is allergic to dairy, I filled six with just the meat mixture, and the other six, I sprinkled shredded cheese on top of the meat.

The recipe calls for the filled and shaped buns to rest again - this time for an hour. I rested them for about half an hour, and used that time to set up my steamer basket. And then it was time to steam!

I love this steamer basket. It makes the whole house smell fresh and wood-y.

I steamed my buns for about 20 minutes, and when I opened the basket...

...they looked great!!

And the best part? They tasted even better than they looked. And everyone loved them. My kids didn't even realize they were made with sourdough.

After this meal, I think these might just wind up on the menu a little more often!

So did you steam up some buns this month? Link up and tell us all about them!!

Steamed Bun (Bao) Dough

Prepare your starter:
4 ounces 100% hydration sourdough starter
6 ounces water
10 ounces unbleached all purpose flour

Mix above ingredients and let stand for 8 hours or overnight.  It should double in size and become very bubbly.
This dough will still work if you shorten this rest time, but will decrease the full sourdough flavor in the completed buns. I let my dough rest for 1 hour and it was perfect for my family.

For the dough:
Once the preapred starter has rested, in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, stir to combine:
6 ounces water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons shortening
15 ounces flour (I used unbleached, all purpose, but the recipe called for bleached all purpose self rising flour- something I never have on hand)

When you have a rough dough in the bowl, mix in the rested starter from the previous step and knead with the dough hook of your machine for 5 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and soft, but not sticky.  Try not to add any extra flour.  My dough was a bit stickier than I expected, but I had no trouble forming and shaping the buns.

Cut 24 3 inch square pieces of parchment (you can use wax paper or foil if necessary).

Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces–about 2 ounces per piece.   Flatten each piece and place about a tablespoon of your filling of choice in the center.  Gather the dough together at the top and pinch to seal.  Or, you can make plain buns by just rounding the dough into little balls.  You can place them seam side down on a piece of parchment for a rounded look or seam side up for a rougher look.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 45-60 minutes.  Place in your steamer tray at least 1 inch apart and steam for 10 minutes for plain and 12 minutes for filled.


  1. Yum, burger buns! That sounds a whole lot easier than making barbecued pork and turning that into a filling.

  2. Love it! These would make an awesome dinner!

  3. Loving your filling! It's making me want to go out and buy some bacon right now.

  4. That sounds so delicious! I got to the fried onions and bacon and had to take a moment - man, I'm hungry. What a great idea!


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