Gluten-free steamed buns

Gluten-free steamed buns



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Made trendy by the inimitable culinary megastar, David Chang, steamed pork belly buns are so goddam good, I thought it was about time I found a way to put them back on the gluten-free menu.

I have always been particularly partial to a steamed bun and, whatever they’re filled with, I simply can’t resist their fluffy, tender crumb. I love to go out for dim sum, but can’t hide my disappointment when fellow diners aren’t quite as steam-bun focused as me. Don’t get me wrong, other dumplings can taste as sweet, but I’m just not satisfied if I don’t get my greedy fill of char sui bao, followed by those sweet custard filled buns for pud. If you’re the same, my only advice is to make sure you’re the one who grabs the pen first, so you can tick away with wild abandon. Your friends might judge you at first, but trust me when I say, they will be grateful for it in the end. And, if my experience is anything to go by, you’ll probably end up ordering even more.

Living, as I do, with a gluten dodger, I’m aware of the sad bao-shaped hole he is forced to endure during all dim sum dining experiences. A hole which is further exaggerated by witnessing my full on steamed bun greed.

I am confident that this gluten free dough recipe has finally filled in that hole. It took a bit of trial and error and I will admit to nearly chucking in the tea towel at one point, but I’m rather proud of the end results. I’ve done the recipe testing so you don’t have to, so get to the shops and get cooking. And, what’s more, as you’ll be making them at home, you won’t need to get up early to get a seat at your local dim sum restaurant. Dim sum might traditionally be eaten in the morning and early afternoon with tea, but I find they slip down very easily at any time of the day and make just as good a match with a bottle of gluten-free beer as paired with a pot of tea.

  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp of water, tepid
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 250ml of skimmed milk, or half water, half semi-skimmed
  • 30g of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 65g of caster sugar
  • 175g of cornflour
  • 85g of potato flour
  • 90g of glutinous rice flour
  • 100g of rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Mix together the yeast, 1 tsp. of sugar and 2 tbsp. tepid water in a mug or small bowl and leave to froth up. In the meantime, place the milk and butter in a saucepan set over a gentle heat, until the butter has melted. Take the saucepan off the heat and leave to cool until warm, but not hot.
Weigh the dry ingredients into a large bowl (there’s no need to sift them) and mix them together. Add the foaming yeast and the warm milk and use a pair of chopsticks to mix everything together until fully combined.
Ditch the sticks and get your hands into the bowl and knead until the mixture forms a soft, but not sticky dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave the dough to prove somewhere warm (an airing cupboard is good) for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Divide the dough into equal sized pieces (about the size of a golf ball) and roll each ball between your hands before flattening it and pressing it into an oval shape and folding it over. Repeat with the remaining dough balls
Place each bun on a piece of baking parchment/wax paper and place in a bamboo steamer. You might not be able to fit them all in at once, but cook them all and then reheat as necessary. These buns also freeze very well. Steam for about 12 minutes, or until the buns have puffed up and are firm and cooked through
Take them off the baking parchment and slice them with the fold and fill with slow roasted pork belly, (I cooked mine basted in a sauce made of tamari, fresh ginger, garlic, sesame and chilli) pickled cucumbers and a splash of hoisin or plum sauce, plus a squeeze of sriracha if you’re hankering for some extra heat
You can use the same dough recipe to make char sui bao (when the pork is cooked inside the dough) or Chinese custard buns. They are best eaten warm (the dough tends to go a little too firm on cooling) but can be zapped in the microwave or steamer the next day to refresh them
Best eaten warm
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