1 pkg active dry yeast ( = 1 tablespoon)
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cut twelve 4x4 inch squares of parchment paper. Place papers on baking sheet (you'll need to use two large baking sheets).
Proof yeast in water and sugar. When yeast has begun to foam, stir in 1 1/4 cups flour. Add salt, egg and oil, mix well. Stir in another 1 1/4 cups flour and begin to knead dough, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if necessary. Knead dough for 10-15 minutes until smooth. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel and allow to rise until tripled in size (depending on room temperature, approximately 1 1/2 - 3 hours).
Punch dough down and divide in half. Cut each half into 6 equal pieces, shaping them into balls (be sure to cover the pieces of dough with the damp towel when not working with them). Flatten balls of dough leaving the center of the round thicker than the edges. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle and pinch together opposite sides of the round, sealing the edges. Twist the bottom to finish sealing. Place the ball, sealed-side down, on a paper square. Once all the baos are made, brush them with water and allow to rise under a damp towel for an hour. Before baking, brush the baos with milk.
Bake in preheated 350F oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before eating.
Makes twelve ~4-inch diameter baos.
A few notes:
*I didn't have any parchment paper on hand so I had to improvise with paper baking cups for this batch.
*No filling recipe since I usually just throw something together. For example leftover pork, diced and sauteed with tonkatsu sauce or diced chicken, marinated in soy, ginger, sugar and black pepper for an hour then sauteed with green onion. Heck! This is a good, neutral flavored dough that would be great with some peanut butter and jelly as a filling.
*These baos freeze well. Once cooled, wrap each one tightly in plactic wrap and store in the freezer. When you are ready for a snack, microwave them (still wrapped in plastic) for 30-40 seconds and enjoy!
(Originally posted on May 26, 2007)