This Girl recently discovered that Mint Fast Fresh Food in Elizabeth Street Mall have bao buns available Wednesday to Friday for lunch. Their version is one of the best I’ve tried, fluffy, tender boa with fillings packed with flavour. You get two bao filled with your choice of lamb, pork, chicken or beef for $10.
So impressed with the bao I wondered if I could make them at home! A Google search found a recipe with a five star rating from BBC Good Food and it turned out I had all the ingredients at home, so I decided to give them a go!
This Girl did not heed her own advice of ‘read the recipe in full before you start’, this makes sure you don’t miss any hidden ingredients and important things to consider, like rising and proving time! While the recipe timings stated prep: 40 mins, cook: 24 mins, I didn’t read the fine print that said ‘plus 3hrs 30 mins rising and proving’!
I discovered the need for an initial 2 hour rise after I’d mixed everything together ready for kneading. I had also included the baking powder, even though the recipe didn’t tell me to because that’s what you do with baking powder right? I figured this mistake out at step 3!
So, it was 6:30pm on a weeknight after I finished kneading the dough and it needed to rise for 2 hours! I was committed now, these boa were going to happen! With the dough rising I did what I should have done earlier and read the rest of the process!
This is where I discovered that I had to sprinkle the baking powder over the dough once I’d knocked it back, and give it another 5 minute knead. What to do, I’d already put the baking powder in, do I add more or not? I decided that this must have had an important role in the process, so I added more and gave it a knead.
Next came forming the dough into a long sausage and dividing into 18, forming into balls and more resting time, just 2 – 3 minutes this time!
After the brief rest I got onto rolling the balls out, smearing with oil and folding in half with an oiled chopstick in the middle to give it the correct shape. After I’d done that the buns needed to prove for 1 hour and 30 mins – it was almost 9pm!
I decided that, while I wasn’t going to quit, I was also not going to wait the full 1 hour and 30mins, 45 mins would have to do! I knew they wouldn’t be perfect, but I’d already made mistakes along the way, I just wanted to get to the end product!
I put a little piece of baking paper under each bun and steamed them for 8 minutes, to my surprise, they had fluffed up! Not a huge amount, I mean they were a far cry from what I’d eaten at Mint earlier in the day, but they had the shape and they were a little fluffy.
10pm and we finally got to try them! I filled the bao with mince I’d cooked using a san choy bow sauce and topped with a little chilli. Lady P, who was waiting not so patiently, became an instant fan and asked if we could have them again on the weekend!
Making bao is a long process, on the second attempt I started in time for us to be eating at 7pm and followed the recipe correctly. Although I feel I rolled them a little thin, so they didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, but they were an improvement on my first attempt.
I’m going to keep practicing; I have ambitions of getting close to Mint’s little clouds of goodness!
Here’s the recipe This Girl used; steamed boa buns.