A couple weekends ago my baba came down to spend the afternoon in my home so we could bake together. I am positive sweet baby j had something to do with it as well. Since retiring from the restaurant business about six months ago he has spent his free weekends practicing and perfecting his bread making skills. Almost every week he attempts a batch of chinese bao, and although sometimes he is the only one eating them due to mealy or densly bricklike texture, he is improving. I didn't know how much I would be able to teach him, but it was a wonderful sharing experience. The amount of information I accumulated was much more than the amount I shared as I am always learning something when I watch my father.
Any time spent with my father is time spent laughing and joking, with a bit of confusion as to what is supposed to be happening. But rest assured, he knows what is going on, and what he expects. He has indirect intentions, knowing what the end product should be like although his means of getting there is a continually changing entity. Even if you are making the same recipe within minutes of each other they are similar only by the ingredient list and end product; measurements and method are according to memory, mood, and attention span.
My father is also a fan of youtube. If you don't know how to do something his advice is always, "look it up on youtube!" It's nice to know that visual learners have such a great resource for knowledge.
sweet bun dough
slightly adapted from this youtube video
1 1/2 to 2 cups warm milk (any kind)
2 teaspoons yeast
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups bread flour, more for dusting
4 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten/high gluten flour (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 Tablespoons butter/margarine, melted (used earth balance)
"Poof" the yeast by combining the warm milk with a Tablespoon of sugar, stirring until dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast on top, and let sit for ten minutes or until bubbly and thickened.
Sift together the remaining sugar, flour, vwg and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, butter and yeast/milk mixture. Slowly combine the wet with the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon or your hand until a soft dough forms. If it is very sticky add more flour, a little at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for ten minutes. Place in buttered bowl, turning dough to coat, cover and let rise for one hour, or doubled. Punch the dough down, and let sit for ten minutes.
From here you can either make dinner rolls, crescents, or make coconut twist bao - instructions below.
twisted coconut buns
1 - 2 eggs, well beaten
1 - 2 Tablespoons milk, any kind (optional)
1 cup dessicated coconut, unsweetened
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1 recipe sweet bun dough
In a pie plate, combine eggs and milk well. In another pie plate combine the coconut and sugar.
After dividing sweet bun dough into small sections, roll out each piece into a small rectangle, about a quarter inch thick. With a pastry scraper cut three lines to make four "tentacles" equal in length and thickness. Kind of like those woven heart baskets you used to make as a child; didn't everyone?
Dredge the entire piece of dough in egg, then in coconut. Hold the both ends of the dough, making sure tentacles don't escape- and twist, like you're wringing out a washcloth. Tie into a knot and place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Cover, let rise an hour, until doubled.
Bake for 15 minutes or so in preheated 375 degree oven, until golden brown. You can rotate front to back halfway through if you feel the need.