Fluffy baozi recipe: What makes it so special? Well.
Imagine for a second a cross between a fluffy, Dim Sum style Char Siu Bao with a layered, laminated pastry like a croissant.
That is basically the dough – the aggressive fluffiness coming not from yeast but from an aged starter activated with fermented rice, and the layers the result of a generous application of lard that should be immediately recognizable to most bakers.
And while that would probably be enough to top our list-of-favorite-Baozi’s-ever, we’re not done yet.
The filling – that triple stuffing – takes this Baozi from A-tier to the undisputed champ.
It’s a mix of scallion pork, of course, but it’s combined with two other fillings that really amp things up.
The first bit is a bit of bean paste, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Bao-filling bean paste.
It’s a bit more on the savory side, and to ensure smoothness follows the same ‘washed paste’ method that these days are usually reserved for the fancier sorts of mooncakes.
Then for the third leg, you’ve got some crushed perilla seed mixed with sugar, which rounds things out and gives the filling its characteristic sweet-savory combination.
It’s perfection in a bun.
So it’s pretty obvious why, as soon as we tasted our first bite of this bun many years back, we knew we had to share it with you. But. As soon as that ambition materialized, we were presented with a problem. You see, this is Anshun.
It’s a charming little city south of Guiyang in the Guizhou province that’s probably best known for its waterfall forty clicks outside of town.
Historically, it started as a military outpost, and even today it’s pretty small by Chinese standards.
So like there’s pretty much nothing out there on how to make these guys proper.
Now, the neighboring Yunnan province also has their own version of popular, but their dough nowadays usually relies on yeast, and, of course, the fillings are completely different.
So it’s taken a while. But.
After over five trips to Guizhou eating around and talking to people, countless hours of pulling at the faintest strings researching this, and even longer brute force trial-and-error testing Steph finally figured out how to reverse engineer this bao.
It’s been a long time in the works, so let me hand it off to her to give you an overview on how to make them.
So yeah, posubao.It may seem a little bit complicated at first glance, so we’ll have a high-level overview in the form of a baker’s schedule, and then we’ll get to the filling later.
This is a classic sponge and dough method, operating at room temperature of about 26C.
And here’s what you do: First, in the morning, make laozao starter using active laozao rice wine.
12 hours later in the evening, make the sponge using the laomian starter, and let it ferment overnight. Next morning, mix the sponge with flour and water to make the bao dough, knead it till smooth and rest for 30 mins.
And then, roll out the bao dough, apply lard, and roll it up, and then another 30-min-rest.
Portion it out, and wrap. Finally, give it a 30-min-proof, and then we can steam.
And now, we can officially begin our journey to the best baozi that ever exists, where everything begins with laozao fermented rice wine.
Traditionally in Southwest China, baos and buns are often made with this kind of old-school starter catalyzed by laozao fermented sticky rice wine, and posubao is no exception.
So here we have 250g sticky rice, rinse it clean, soak it for 4 hours in summer and overnight in winter.
When the rice’s done soaking, strain, and even put it in a steamer lined with a wet cheesecloth.
Cover, steam it over medium heat for 45 minutes in total, but come back every fifteen minutes to check on the water level and spray a cup of water over the rice to prevent it from drying out.
45 minutes later, shut off the heat, let the rice cool down in the steamer till it reaches 35C, put the rice in your fermentation container of choice, then we can add in our herbal dry yeast.
So this kind of dry yeast ball is made with a mélange of different kinds of herbs and rice flour.
A ball like this can usually be used on about 1.5kg of sticky rice.
So just weigh your ball, here we have about 11g, and we’ll only need 1/6 of it as we are only doing 250g rice.
So shave off about 1.8g of the dry yeast ball, dissolve it with drinking water, mix it in with the sticky rice.
Then press the rice firmly and make a little observation hole at the center.
And now, cover and put the container in a warm place away from sunshine, and let it go for 72 hours, or three whole days.
Three days later, the laozao rice wine should be ready.
If there’re some grey strains on top of it, don’t panic, it’s just a sign of very active fungus.
Just scrape off that layer, and the rest is some very nice and light laozao fermented sticky rice wine for your desserts, seasoning, and laomian starter.
And now, we have our laozao fermented sticky rice wine ready, we can make our laomian starter.
Fluffy baozi recipe
Here we have 50g active laozao rice wine, half rice, half liquid, mash it together in a clean container, then mix in 50g AP flour and 25g water, cover, put it in a warm, dark place for about12 hours, or when it’s nice and bubbly like this, and then, we can make the sponge.
So for the sponge, simply mix in 60g starter with 135g water, stir well, then add in 300g AP flour, form it into a ball, press it down,
cover and let it ferment overnight.
The next morning, the sponge should be doubled in size and the nice web-liked structure inside, and now we can start making the actual bao dough.
So, to make the bao dough, in a big mixing bowl, dissolve 30g sugar in 135g water then add in the sponge, together with 300g AP
flour and 1g or a 1/4 tsp sodium carbonate.
Calling for sodium carbonate here may seem a little bit odd here because the dough smells so nice and fragrant without the slightest hint of sourness, so calling for a strong alkaline component sounds a little bit counterintuitive.
But, here’s the deal.
The Rhizopus in laozao rice wine would produce some acid proteases, which will break down protein, which in this case, is the gluten in the flour.
Without enough gluten, the dough will become overly soft, and the final product will have this kind of sticky and dense layer, which oddly has some kind of dry texture when biting into it.
So in order to control and balance the acid protease, I tested with baking soda, baking powder, or even adding more lard, nothing works except sodium carbonate, so no subbing here, but you can check out how to make your own sodium carbonate by baking your own baking soda here down in the pinned notes.
So right, back to the dough. Mix the sodium carbonate with the flour, then mix the dry ingredient with the water and the sponge dough.
When everything roughly combines together, transfer it onto a working surface.
And now we’ll need to knead it for about 12 minutes.
And when kneading, remember to repeat the fold and knead motion in order to develop the gluten, do not knead as Pusheen kneads.
About 12 minutes later, or when the dough becomes white and smooth like this, weigh and divide it into three even pieces, each about 320g.
And then grab each piece, fold the cut sides into the center, make sure the surface is all smooth, then shape it into a log.
Work through the three pieces, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Quick note, when your dough is resting, now would be the time to take out the lard and all your fillings and let them come back to room temperature.
30 minutes later, we can roll out the dough.
So baozi shops would usually use a dough sheeter or have a massive working surface.
But for us working at home with a limited surface, we’ll need to handle the dough in batches.
So generously dust your work surface, take out one log, divide it into two even pieces, and then put one back to the bag first.
Now take the first half piece, roll it into a long sheet, about 20*70cm in size and about 1mm thick.
Now evenly dot on 15g of lard, and gently apply it all over the sheet, even the edges.
Then carefully roll it up from one end and turn it into a log.
Put this log back into your zip lock bag, take out the other half of this dough, dust the work surface again, roll it out again and apply lard again.
But, before you roll up this sheet, take out the previous rolled up log, place it at one side of the sheet, then start rolling it up from here.
This way we can achieve more layers at the end.
Now put this rolled up and finished up log back into your zip lock bag, let it rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, take out a second dough, divide, roll up, apply lard, and repeat the process again till you finish with all the remaining dough.
If all these processes seem a little bit confusing to you, here’s an uncut video, where we talk a little bit more in detail about how to approach this.
After you finish all the doughs, the first log should’ve finished resting.
And now we can move on to the wrapping step.
Oh, and yeah, wrapping needs filling, let’s talk about that, shall we?
As for all the baozi, there’re so many kinds of fillings to choose from.
And here we’re doing “sanxian” (“three delicacies”), the most beloved posu baozi filling.
So “three delicacies”, or “sanxian”, is an umbrella term used throughout China to describe different kinds of a mix of ingredients.
And in this Anshun style baozi “three delicacies” filling, the star is probably the washed bean paste, “xisha”.
So Anshun xisha uses a type legume called 榄豆, which confusingly doesn’t even have a standard Chinese nam.
So long story short, after hunting down some rabbit holes, it seems like these beans are also called bamboo beans or rice beans in English.
Unless you’re in India, otherwise you can sub this with adzuki beans, this is what we’re gonna do in the video for replication purposes.
Here we got 250g thoroughly rinsed adzuki beans, toss in a big bowl and cover it with water, about an inch over it and let it soak overnight.
The next day, just toss them in a pot together with 1L of cool water and a quarter tsp of sodium carbonate, bring it to a boil and let it cook for an hour on medium-low heat.
And after that time, we can start the rinsing process.
So, after your bean’s cooled down to touch, we start the washing process.
Just scoop some of your beans into this contraption made with a strainer and a cheesecloth, or even an old t-shirt, whatever works for you.
And start pressing your beans into the strainer, and make sure there are just some shells left on the strainer and bean paste itself that goes into the bag.
Work through your beans in batches, and then just squeeze out the water in the bag and what’s left in the bag would be the washed bean paste.
And then, take this washed and squeezed dried bean paste put it into a pan.
Mix in 100ml of neutral oil and 60g of brown sugar.
And heat on medium-low, and start mixing and frying it together till you got this kind of thick consistency that can stand and the color turns really dark.
And this bean paste will be ready.
Now, just take it out, put it in a bowl, and let it cool down.
You can store them in a zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer, it stays good forever.
Well, at least up to three months.
Just take out about 6 tbsp for this batch of baozi.
So with the bean paste sorted, let’s make the second delicacy, the “yinzi”, or a pounded sugar and perilla seed mixture.
This one’s easy, just pound together half tbsp sugar and half tbsp toasted perilla seeds till it turns into a coarse powder-ish
You should be able to find perilla seeds at Asian supermarkets since it’s also used in Korean cooking.
If you can’t find it, you can also just straight up to get 1 tbsp of granulated sugar ready for the wrapping.
Now moving on to our third delicacy, scallion and pork mince. Here we have 150 grams of pork hind, you can also use pork belly in this case.
Just cut the fat into small cubes, mince up the lean.. and now hand mincing doesn’t seem that demanding in comparison by now, right?
Anyway, just mince it up to about this consistency, then add in the seasoning, which is listed on the screen.
Mix and stir till it’s a bit sticky, then add in the fat and scallion, give it a quick mix, and coat it with about one tsp oil, another quick mix, and set aside.
And now, our three delicacies are done, we can finally wrap.
So take out the first rolled-up log you put in your bag, cut off the two uneven ends, but don’t waste, just stack them together and make them into tiny buns.
And now we have our log, let’s portion it into four even pieces.
With a quick and clean motion, tear it off in the middle, then tear each section into two parts again.
And now, we can wrap.
So why tear it off instead of cutting it off?
Well, I found in testing that tearing it off really seals the end of the dough really well instead of cutting, where the inside will kind of get squeezed out, so this is a much cleaner way to separate your dough.
Now let’s wrap our Baozi.
Just grab one piece, gently press it down to widen it a bit into a square-roundish disc, then fill in one tbsp of pork mince, a half tbsp bean paste, and half tsp of that yinzi sugar perilla mixture.
Then grab one side, pinch it up, and start pleating.
Slightly tilt it outward and let the wrapper form a little pocket when doing so.
Now, one characteristic of posubao is the flaky raggedy look.
So when you’re pleating, don’t sweat, just make sure the pleats are like pinched together and you are fine.
Now work through these four pieces, place each one on a small piece of parchment paper, put them in a steamer and cover to prevent drying it out, and then take out the second rolled-up log that you put in your ziplock bag, repeat the portioning and wrapping process and then work through the second and the third log.
After wrapping all the buns, we can move on to the final step, proofing and steaming.
So put your steamer together with your Baozi over 35C water and let it proof for 30 minutes.
After that time, steam your buns on a big pot of boiling water on high heat for 13 minutes.
Time’s up, heat off. Let it sit in the steamer for a minute, and then take it out.
And here you go, your perfect flaky, layered, posubao.
The best baozi to ever exist in my opinion.
So yeah, posubao.
To put it in the words from the baozi shop owners in Guizhou: “posubao is not hard, it’s just about the experience”.
And to this day, I completely agree.
And here you go: all the experience I gathered along this long journey trying to reverse engineer it.
And I hope you bakers and dough witches out there can give it a try and take up the challenge.
But if you attempt to make posubao, do check out the pinned notes below because there’re still more details we want to talk about but just couldn’t fit in this already really long video.
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