Flaky Asian Buns with Red Bean Paste and Salted Duck Egg Yolks

中文菜谱:

豆沙蛋黄酥

Flaky buns are very popular in Asian countries.  Literally every bakery sells them.  The recipes and fillings vary from bakery to bakery.  Some popular choices are sweet red bean paste, lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, and even savory ground pork filling.

I like to bake my own instead buying them from store.  They are best when they are freshly out the oven, piping hot.  But it is very hard to get such perfect timing when buying from store.

The recipe was posted a long time ago here: Flower Shape Pastry Cookies with Red Bean Filling.  I use it every time I make flaky buns at home. Therefore I think I can proudly announce this is a time-tested solid recipe O(_)O~

Salted duck egg yolks are available in frozen food section in most Asian grocery stores.  Sometimes I make salt duck eggs from scratch.  They look and taste much better.  But the thing with homemade salted duck eggs is that it takes one month to marinate.  That is a long waiting time.  I usually go with store-bought version if I have a sudden crave and can’t wait 30 days.

Ingredients for the flaky buns:

150 g all purpose flour
105 g lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil
40 g powder sugar
70 g water
110 g cake flour

For the filling

Salted duck egg yolks (12 to 15 yolks)
red bean paste (homemade or store bought from Asian grocery store)
egg yolk wash
black sesame seeds

 

Directions

Although you can use lard / butter / shortening / vegetable oil to make the cookies, lard is always the preferable choice because of its major role in making these buns’ flaky and air-like layers while no other oil/ fat can do the same.

The easiest way to get pure lard is to make it yourself at home.

Pork lard is sold by pound in Asian grocery stores.  And this is how it looks like.

With a sharp knife, cut it into small pieces.

Add pork lard pieces to a cast iron pan/ wok, along with 1/4 cup water.

Heat the pan over medium heat.  The water will gradually evaporate as cooking process going on.

When the pork lard pieces shrink in sizes and turn into light golden brown color, remove pan from heat.  Allow the mixture to cool for 10 to 20 minutes. 

Drain pork fat liquid.  Reserve what is needed for this recipe.  Store the rest in Mason jar.  Seal and refrigerate after it is totally cooled down.

In a medium bowl, add 55g lard, all purpose flour, powder sugar and water.   Whisk with a wooden spoon or chop sticks until all ingredients come together.  Knead with hands until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This is dough NO 1.

In another bowl, add 50 g lard and cake flour.  With a wooden spoon, mix flour and lard until they are well blended.  This is dough NO 2.

I always make my own red bean paste.  And I posted how to make red bean paste from scratch before: Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Everything is ready

Preheat the oven to 400F/204C

Divide dough NO 1 into 20 g/ each piece; dough NO 2 into 10 g/ each; and red bean paste into 30 g/ each.  Roll each of them into small dough balls.

Punch down each red bean paste balls and wrap the salted duck egg yolks with red bean paste.  Shape each pieces back into round red bean balls again.

Take one piece of dough NO 1; press it down with your palm; wrap it around one piece of dough NO 2; seal the edges; and roll it into a ball shape again.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough ball into 3 mm thin, roll it up from one end, cover with plastic wrap and repeat the process again 10 minutes later.  It is kind of similar to making croissants.

Press the dough down a little bit with a rolling pin or your palm.  Fold two ends towards center.  Press it down again and then roll it into 1/4 inch thin.  Place a red bean paste ball in the center.  Wrap it up and seal the edge with your fingers.  Roll it into a round dough ball. 

Repeat the process until all the dough balls are done.

Press down the dough balls a little bit between palms.  Add to a cookie pan lined with silicone mat.  

Brush with egg yolk wash and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bun tops are golden brown.

These are some fine delicate and flaky buns! O(∩_∩)O~

The layers are really amazing.

Black tea or coffee is perfect for these sweet little flaky buns.

The best part is the flaky layers.  They are delicate, slightly sweet and of course, very flaky. Take a bite, and the layers crumble between teeth, and in your mouth, and maybe all over you O(∩_∩)O~

Salted duck egg yolks and red bean paste may sound a bizarre combination, but it works!  The two together create a savory sweet excellent balance and flavor.

Ok, if you don’t want to go through all the kneading and baking process listed above but still want to know what they taste like, grab you car key and drive to a nearby authentic Asian bakery.  Remember the key word is authentic!  Buy one in store that is freshly out of oven, and you will know how good it is; and most likely you will agree with me that all the effort I go through to make them fresh at home is well worthy O(∩_∩)O~

Sweet Rice Dumplings with Red Beans and Jujubes Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

Last time I posted sweet rice dumplings with pork and mung beans wrapped in bamboo leaves .  They are savory and tasty.  And I make another batch of sweet ones this time with red beans.

Red bean is one of the most popular dessert ingredients in Asia.  After long simmering time, red beans become soft and smooth.  By adding oil and sugar, we can get creamy and silky red bean paste which is good for all kinds of pastry goods. 

Besides red beans, I also add jujubes and lotus seeds.  These two may sound rare and exotic to American people, but they are widely used and have been very popular in Asian countries too.  The combination of them together with red beans paste is pretty tasty and awesome.

Ingredients for sweet rice dumplings:

3 cups of sweet rice
1 package of split pitted jujubes(10 oz, 283g)
2/3 cup of fresh lotus seeds (sold in refrigerate food section in Asian grocery stores)
red bean paste
large bamboo leaves
water as needed

 

Ingredients for red bean paste:

1/2 cup small red beans
1/2 to 2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown cane sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
water as needed

 

Directions:

These are the red beans and split pitted jujubes I buy from Asian grocery stores.  

Preparing red bean paste a day or two ahead of time would be a good idea.

Soak the red beans in water for 3 to 4 hours.  Add to a small pot with water.  Cook over medium low heat until the beans become very soft.

Use a vitamix blender to puree the beans. 

Add the puree to a non-stick skillet.  Cook over medium low heat.  Stir with wooden spoon from time to time.

Add 1/3 of oil and dark brown cane sugar.  Stir until they are absorbed by the red bean paste.  And then add another 1/3.  Repeat the process one more time after that.   

Finally the red bean paste is sweet, silky, and smooth.  It is done when the bean paste can maintain its shape.

Remove from heat.  Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Soak the sweet rice for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain well and fold in washed jujubes and lotus seeds.

The fresh lotus seeds are available in only a few Asian markets.  They are kind of hard to find.  If you can’t find them, you can just leave them out, or substitute with dry lotus seeds rehydrated in water for a couple hours.  The dry ones shall be available in all Asian grocery stores no matter how small the store is.  That is how much we love these tiny louts seeds O(∩_∩)O~

Soak dry bamboo leaves in water until well rehydrated.  Rinse well under running water.  Blanch the bamboo leaves in hot boiling water for a few seconds.  Drain and set aside for later use.

Fold every two bamboo leaves into a cone shape; add a couple tablespoons sweet rice with jujubes and lotus seeds.

Add a tablespoon of red bean paste

Cover with a thin layer of sweet rice mixture

Fold the bamboo leaves on top and wrap it up

Secure with cotton twine

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All done!

I use a Staub 5.75 quarts cast iron dutch oven here.  Fill the pot with water. Cook over high heat until it boils.  Cover with lid and reduce the heat to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours.

Drain well and allow the dumplings to cool down before serving them.

Unwrap the dumplings before consuming.  Sweet rice become sticky and glutinous when cooked.  The whole dumpling taste sweet, tender, silky and delicious! 

BTW, freshly homemade red bean paste is much better than the store-bought version in every way.  Red bean paste is the key ingredient here.  The extra effort to make it from scratch at home totally enhances the flavor, big time! O(∩_∩)O~ 

Coffee Popsicles

中文菜谱: 咖啡冰棍

Hot, hot and very hot!  That is how I feel these days when summer is here in Texas.  I literally crave for frozen treats every single day.  So I am happy to make different kinds of popsicles every day.

This batch is coffee flavor, which is made with freshly ground and pumped espresso shots.  There is a strong, intense but smooth coffee flavor because of that.  Dripped or pot brewed coffee can be used here too, but the flavor and taste would not be as good though.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 shots of espresso
1 1/2 whole milk
1/2 to 2/3 cup condensed sweetened milk (or adjust the amount to taste)
1 teaspoon coffee rum liquor

Directions:

Make the espresso shots with espresso machine

Repeat the process until there are 6 to 8 shots of espresso coffee

Add espresso, milk, condensed milk, and coffee rum liquor in a medium bowl or cup.  Whisk until well blended. 

Pour the mixture to a popsicle mold

Cover with popsicle’s lid and insert popsicle sticks

Add a flat plate to the top so that these popsicle sticks will stay in place.

Freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until firm. 

Ready to be unmolded

Unmold all popsicles and wrap them up individually so that I don’t have to pick a fight with the popsicle mold every time I want to enjoy a popsicle O(∩_∩)O~

Oh, what a pleasant treat in a hot summer day!

Mango and Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles

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Houston has been known for its long and hot and sticky summer.  How do I prepare myself for it?  The answer is popsicles and ice cream! O(∩_∩)O~

Mango is a stable fruit down here in the south.  It is very juicy, creamy and sweet when ripe.  I love putting mango into drinks and desserts.  Not only the bright yellow color looks great and cheerful, more importantly it tastes fruity and awesome! 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Greek honey yogurt
2/3 cup blueberry jam
1 large/ or 2 medium ripe mangoes
water as needed

Directions:

Peel the mangoes, and dice the fresh.  Add to vitamix along with some water.  Blend on high speed for about 10 to 15 seconds.

Add a couple teaspoons blueberry jam to ice popsicle mold, followed by Greek honey yogurt and mango puree.  Add more blueberry jam and yogurt on top.

Cover with popsicle’s lid and insert popsicle sticks

Freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until firm. 

To unmold the popsicles, just dip the mold in warm water for 10 seconds.  And then they shall be easily removed from mold. 

Here you go.  Here are some most beautiful and tasty popsicles ready to be eaten O(∩_∩)O~

Mango Orange Smoothie

中文菜谱: 芒果甜橙smoothie

Summer in Texas comes a lot earlier and faster than I thought.  The temperature bumps up from seventies to eighties, and then to nineties in merely a couple weeks.  It looks like we are going to enjoy all kinds of icy drinks for a really long time.

Mango and orange go really great together.  The combination is refreshing and very tropical-like.  

Ingredients:

1 ripe ataulfo mango
1 sweet orange
1/2 cup ice cubes
water as needed
1 to 2 teaspoons honey (optional)

Directions:

Peel mango and orange.  Cut into small cubes.

Add mango and orange, along with ice and water, to Vitamix  

The fruits are super sweet this time, so I leave out the honey.

Turn on Vitamix.  Blend on high speed until smoothie is smooth and silky.

Pour into a tall glass 

You have a glass of 100% pure fruit smoothie and 100% deliciousness!  O(∩_∩)O~