Bun Bun Bun…

by Shellycious

[Big Vietnamese Bun from Deluxe Food Market in Chinatown]

My obssession with buns went all the way back to my kindergarten time when every morning my grandfather would buy me a snow-white, steamingly hot bun. Back home in China, steamed bun is a breakfast staple that everyone loves because it’s cheap and filling. For me, it’s the softness and sweetness that get me hooked on. Working at SE’s headquarters in Chinatown has truly ┬árekindled my passion for steamed buns because there the heaven of good steamed buns; you can find them in most groceries, bakeries, and even some random food stand by the street. And I never get bored eating them because there’s such a great variety that caters to everyone’s taste and need. Since most of them are madly cheap under $1.o0, I can afford to try every variety I can find with no stress in my pocket. After a while, buns has surpassed its traditional breakfast role and become my lunch, dinner and even mid-day snack sometimes.

[Pumpkin bun from Golden Steamer]

I’ve written two posts about buns for Seriouseats, one is from the Golden Steamer and the other from a grocery nearby our office. The more bun I have had, the more urge I felt to make my own bun. I was told by many that this is no easy task not only because it involves the fermentation process but also it requires the good skill of kneading, neither of which I am good at. However, I decided to give it a shot and aimed for the simplest, plain bun with no fillings in it. Then something happened: I found a jar of peanut butter in the corner of my overstuffed fridge, so I changed my mind and just put the PB as the stuffing and thought it might be another brilliant innovation. I was wrong. The rich, creamy peanut butter was too dry and flavorless as a bun filling. Oh well, that was just a experiment I comforted myself. Having looked up several recipes in various Chinese cookbooks, I realized they were pretty much the same so went for a random one. I think I kneaded for a longer time than needed, fearing that the gluten couldn’t develop enough, so the bun came out a bit tough. However, I followed the instruction to use the bleached flour, which resulted in the classic snow-white look of a bun. Also, following my grandmother’s habit of lard for every Chinese pastry, I procured some pork skin from the grocery in Chinatown and painstakingly made my own lard to put into the bun. I don’t know if lard or butter makes a difference though; that’s something for me to find out next time I make it with butter instead.

[First take on bun-making, and I made a peanut butter bun, weird...]

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