When other women go to New York they head to 5th Avenue to buy designer shoes and handbags. Not me. I head to The Bowery and trawl through the restaurant supply stores. When we went recently Mr Colonial Cravings treated me to a tortilla press […]
I love these sweet, soft, fluffy pillows of dough but it’s not always easy to find non-meat versions. The last time we were in NYC we did a food crawl (what we do when there are just too many great places to eat and not enough meals to do it in!) We basically graze our way around the city. Anyway, one of our many stops was at Baohaus for a couple of delicious Chinese steamed buns filled with tofu. The only other place I’ve been able to indulge in them was at Continental in Philadelphia, where they were filled with spicy, plump buffalo shrimp – amazing!
Once you get used to the idea of steaming these rather than baking them they’re actually very easy, just like making any other basic white bread. You want really firm tofu for this so it’s worth pressing it to get as much moisture as possible out of it. You also need to marinate it for at least 30 minutes to give it plenty of flavour.
makes 4 big buns or 6 snack sized ones
150ml (ish) warm water
225g strong white bread flour
200g extra firm tofu (cut into steaks and pressed for 15 minutes)
1 tbsp dark maple syrup
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili sauce (I use sriracha)
1 clove garlic
1 inch fresh ginger
fresh coriander and chili (optional) to serve
Add the yeast to the water and set it aside for a minute or two. Whisk together the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then mix in the water to form a soft dough. If it’s a little dry add a touch more water, a little sticky add a tiny bit more flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes until it becomes soft, smooth and stretchy.
Clean the mixing bowl and lightly oil it before placing the dough back into it and covering with cling film. Pop the bowl in a warm place and leave the dough for about an hour to double in size.
Meanwhile you can start the marinade for the tofu. Grate the garlic and ginger and combine it with everything else in a baking dish. Cut the tofu into triangles and toss them in the marinade. Leave for 30 minutes to soak up all the flavours.
When the dough has risen, knock it back a little and then divide it into 4 or 6 pieces (depending on how big you want your buns). Shape the pieces into balls and then roll them out on a lightly floured surface into an oval shape. Cut squares of grease-proof paper and fold each in half diagonally to make a triangle. Place these onto the dough and then fold each oval in half over it to create your buns. Put them on a board or tray covered with grease-proof paper and then loosely cover them with oiled cling film and leave them somewhere warm to rise again for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pieces are sticky and a little crisp around the edges.
Cut up the grease-proof under the buns so that each one sits on an individual piece. Set a steamer over a pan of boiling water (a steel one works fine, you don’t have to have a bamboo one) and steam the buns in batches for about 8 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the buns are puffy.
Fill the buns with a couple of wedges of the tofu and add a generous garnish of fresh coriander and a little fresh red chili.
In the UK Belgian buns are always the star of the bakery window. They grab your attention with their shiny white icing and bright red cherries. Incidentally I don’t think that they have anything at all to do with Belgium.
But in spite of how pretty they look they aren’t something that I would ever buy because I absolutely loathe icing. I don’t know why, it’s not as though I don’t have a sweet tooth, I just always find icing to be a bit too much. I do love the soft, sweet dough laced with plump sultanas and hints of lemon though so I thought why not top them with Belgian chocolate instead of all that gooey icing. Seriously, when has chocolate ever made anything worse?
400g strong white bread flour
7g sachet dried yeast
30g sugar (plus 1 tbsp)
pinch of salt
200ml warm milk (plus 1 tbsp)
zest of 1 lemon
100g good quality milk chocolate
12 glace cherries
Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and 30g of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the 200ml of warm milk and the egg and then use this to bring the dry ingredients together to form a nice soft dough.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or so (or use a mixer fitted with a dough hook). The dough should become smooth, soft and stretchy. Put the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl and then loosely cover it. Pop it somewhere nice and warm and leave it for around 1 hour, so that it can double in size.
Once the dough has risen take it out of the bowl and give it another brief knead. Roll and stretch the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have quite a large rectangle.
Brush the surface with a tablespoon of milk and then sprinkle on a tablespoon of sugar. Spread the surface with the sultanas and lemon zest. Tightly roll the dough up, starting at the long edge. Slice the roll into 12 equal pieces and lay them flat on a large greased baking tray. Recover the buns and leave them to rise a second time, again for about an hour. Whilst this is happening you can pre-heat your oven to 200°c.
Once the buns have risen bake them for 15 minutes, until they are golden on the outside with a soft, thin crust. Pop them on a wire rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate (either in a double boiler or using short bursts in a microwave) and then spoon or drizzle it onto the cooled buns. Make the chocolate fairly thick in the centre of the buns and top each one with a glace cherry. Leave the chocolate to set before devouring.
These are so insanely good. Mr Colonial Cravings calls these Aztec rolls, which I suppose is a little bit less of a mouthful than ‘chocolate-chili-cinnamon-rolls’. Just as well, because if you make these your mouth will be way to busy scoffing them to do anything else. It’s ridiculous that it’s taken me three years of food blogging to get round to making them.
I’ve always loved Chelsea buns but somehow cinnamon rolls just don’t do it for me, I like the warm soft bread but the sugar and cinnamon always just seem to be a bit something and nothing. Too sweet, too cinnamony (if that’s a word!). Don’t even get me started on the frosting.
Add some rich, dark chocolate, chili heat and tangy lime though and I am a very happy bunny! These are so yummy, warm and gooey or left to cool so that the chocolate becomes solid.
I’ve used a mix of white and wholemeal flour in these because I like the texture and the extra sweetness but feel free to use all white flour if you prefer.
150g strong white bread flour
80g wholemeal flour
7g easy blend yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp sugar
big pinch of salt
125ml warm milk
50g soft dark brown sugar
100g dark chocolate
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
40g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 lime
Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix through the salt, sugar and yeast. Rub the butter into this mix. Warm the milk a little (so it’s just tepid) and use a fork to beat the egg into it. Gradually pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry ingredients and bring it all together to form a soft dough. I think a butter knife is best for this. Remember that the flour may not be able to absorb all of the liquid, so it’s a good idea to add the wet ingredients a little at a time.
Once you have a nice ball of dough, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes until if feels nice and smooth and springy.
Wash and dry the bowl you mixed the dough in so that it’s nice and warm and lightly oil it. Pop the dough in the bowl, cover with oiled cling film and put it somewhere warm for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is rising you can prepare the filling. Cream together the butter, sugar and spices, so that they are nice and fluffy. Finely chop the chocolate, I find a food processor does this quite easily.
Once the dough has risen take it out of the bowl and knead it again for a minute or two on a lightly floured surface . This means that all the air bubbles will be evenly distributed throughout it. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, a little bigger than a piece of A4 paper. Spread it with the creamed butter and sugar so that the whole surface is covered and then evenly sprinkle on the chocolate.
Roll the dough up tightly, starting at the long edge. Cut into nine even-sized pieces and place these, cut-side down into a lightly buttered baking tin. Re-cover with cling film and put the tin back in a warm place for another hour until the buns have risen and are sitting quite snugly in the tin.
Pre-heat your oven to 190°c. Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes until they are golden brown and the filling has become a wonderful molten mess.
Take the rolls out of the tin to cool, so that the steam doesn’t make the bottom soggy but don’t break them apart just yet.
To make the icing simply cream together the butter and cream cheese and then beat in the icing sugar and lime juice. Chill the icing for 20 minutes and then drizzle it onto the rolls before serving.