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 rekindled 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.
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.