YUM CHA BUNS
Great as a starter or a light meal, these light, fluffy Chinese buns have a filling of hoisin cashews and mushrooms. Surplus uncooked buns can be frozen on a baking sheet, then transferred to a freezer bag.
Makes: 8 large buns
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus about 2 hours rising
Cooking time: 15 minutes, or more if cooking in batches
5g/¹⁄8oz dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
200g/7oz/scant 12⁄3 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1½ tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
200g/7oz chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
2.5cm/1in piece of root ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
3 tbsp hoisin sauce, plus extra to serve
3 spring onions, finely chopped
55g/2oz/¹⁄³ cup toasted cashew nuts, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough, pour 135ml/4½fl oz/generous ½ cup tepid water into a small bowl and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then leave for 10 minutes until frothy. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, stir and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture and 1½ teaspoons of the oil into the well and gradually mix in the flour to form a soft ball of dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Wipe the inside of the cleaned mixing bowl with a little oil. Add the dough, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat a wok over a high heat, add the remaining oil and stir-fry the mushrooms and ginger for 8 minutes, or until any liquid evaporates. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and stir in the hoisin, spring onions and cashews. Season with pepper, and leave to one side.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 balls and cover with a damp tea towel. Take a dough ball and press it into a round about 5mm/¼in thick, then put a heaped tablespoonful of the mushroom mixture in the centre of the dough and pull the edges up over the filling, pressing them together to seal. Put on a lightly floured surface and repeat with remaining balls and filling.
Put the buns in a tiered steamer, lined with baking parchment. Cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes, or until risen and fluffy. (You can cook the buns in batches, if necessary.) Serve the buns warm with extra hoisin sauce for dipping.
Watkins Media, 2014