I’m not sure if this should be categorized as “baking”, since there was no baking involved. But red bean paozu is a sweet dish, so I suppose baking is the most suitable classification.
It started with my boyfriend’s suggestion to make a vegetarian paozu, and immediately I thought of the red bean filling, to make the dish a pretty symbol of good luck.
It’s rather easy to make, a bit time consuming, yes, but most of the time you don’t have to do a thing, just wait.
- The bun:
325 grams of all purpose flour
3 grams of instant dry yeast
120 ml of milk
30 ml of olive oil
50 grams of sugar
1 egg white
- The filling:
150 grams of red bean
Sugar to taste
- Soak the red bean in warm water until its skin is soft and can easily come out. My mom usually does this overnight, but I didn’t have that patience, so I used really hot water. It took me 3 hours.
- Activate the dry yeast by mixing it in about 2 teaspoons of warm water (temperature 32-38 degree celcius). Put it aside for 10-15 minutes until the yeast increases significantly in volume.
(Honestly, my yeast never increases, at all, in volume. But nevertheless, my flour mixture still works very well later, so I guess this is not really a problem, unlike what is said in every single other websites?)
- Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix until incorporate. If the flour mixture is too sticky, you can add more flour.
(Another note: Some recipes suggest a maximum of additional flour to add, and I followed it strictly for the first few times, but one time the mixture was REALLY sticky, so I had to add a whole bunch more. It didn’t affect the volume or taste of the buns later)
- Remove the dough onto a flat surface and press it for about 10-15 minutes until the dough is not sticky anymore and becomes elastic
(Another note: The perfect dough will be smooth as well, but if not, it won’t affect much the flavor of the buns in the end.)
- Spray a large bowl or pot with a thin payer of butter, or paint it with some oil. Put the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a piece of plastic wrap if you live in a cool, dry place. I live in Hochiminh City, where the temp is always around 30 degree Celcius and humidity is 80-90%, so I do not put a cover, otherwise the evaporation from the yeast activity in the dough will make the buns have a sour taste later.
- Wait for 1-2 hours or until the dough increases twice to three times in volume. I am really impatient, and luckily, usually it takes me only half an hour to reach my preferred volume.
- While we wait, let’s start with the red bean filling. Let’s pull out the soaked red beans.
- Remove the skin of the red beans.
- Boil the red bean, with sugar to your taste, until really soft. You can test that by picking up a bit of the bean, press it in between your finger, and if it breaks into small crumbs, then you can move to the next step.
- Blend the red bean with quite a lot of water in a blender until smooth that you can run it through a sift and it will just go through the little holes of the sift like liquid.
- In a non-stick frying pan, combine the red bean soup with 3 teaspoons of olive oil and stir until it solidifies. This takes a long long long time (usually it takes me 40-45 minutes). You can stop when the “soup” has thickened that you can make little red bean balls and they will stay in that shape.
- Turn off the oven and let the red bean cool. Put a plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry.
- And let’s back to the dough. Remove the dough onto another surface.
- Press gently to release some air within the dough.
- Divide the dough into 10 parts, and roll each into smooth, round balls. Use your finger tips to smooth out any rough spots on the surface. This step will make the buns look smoother, shinier, and prettier. Otherwise, nah, I don’t even care much.
- Roll the red bean filling, which has cooled down, to 10 small balls as well.
- Roll the dough balls to thin, round pieces, put the red bean balls in the middle, and seal it close. Most will try to make pretty little floral prints on the buns, but I am not that crafty, so I just rolled it all in, again, round balls.
- Steam those little buns. Prepare some small pieces of paper (preferably white) to put under the buns.
- Steam it for 10 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE STEAMER WHILE STEAMING. You’ll be turned into Shrek. Nah, kidding, nothing will happen to you, just the buns will not be soft and spongy.
- The buns will double, triple in size after you steam them.
And they will look somewhat like these:
Why I said somewhat? Because while making the buns in the pictures, I forgot to activate the dry yeast 😀 so the dough didn’t increase that much in volume, and the final result was less spongy, harder buns. Later times, when I remember to put the yeast in warm water and wait 10 minutes, the buns were awesome.
Some notes about preserving: Paozu can stay tasty at room temperature for 1-2 days only. If you need to keep them for more than 2 days, fridge them, and when you actually eat them, put them in a microwave for 20-30 seconds, or steam them on hot boiling water for 2-3 minutes.