Chinese Chicken Pau – Following The Heritage Trail

When I started blogging about 2 years ago, someone left a nice message for me in my comment column. An outstanding baker, this lady had commented how happy she was to see a fellow Singaporean blogger bake French pastry when most of the time, the local food blogging scene are only limited to chiffon cakes, brownies, muffins….  I felt flattered by the comments but at the same time, an uneasiness had also set in. As much as I enjoy experimenting with macarons, madeleines and cupcakes, I also know that these have never been part of my core heritage. I grew up in a humble Asian household where we ate more kuehs than pastries.

It would be sad if our generation and the younger generations that follow would only know how to bake macarons and cupcakes. That is why I was really thrilled when I was able to get a place in Valerie Kong’s Pau Class at Shermay’s Cooking School. A hands-on class, we got to prepare our own Pau dough from scratch and we also learnt how to roll and pleat the dough – a skill I had desperately wanted to acquire and improve. Valerie’s simple and clear instructions was easy to follow and quite a few of us were suprised that we were able to get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Emboldened by the session, I decided to compare the different Pau recipes I have in my cookbook library. This dough recipe that I am sharing here is not Valerie’s recipe. This is a Mantou recipe that I found in a Hong Kong Dim Sum cookbook. The amount of yeast and baking powder for this recipe is much lower than Valeries’ and I was intrigued by the addition of milk to the dough. What was missing from the cookbook was clear instructions. So the newly acquired knowledge at the hands-on Pau class was really valuable. I am very very pleased with this recipe – an easy dough to handle, the buns turn out very soft and fluffy.  I had used Valerie’s Chicken filling for this exercise so I will not publish the recipe here. However, with a dough like this, one can easily wrap it with one’s favourite filling – be it sweet or savoury.

I would be proud to present these Pau to family and friends. I know that many will be pleased for these are flavours and food that we have grown up with.

P.S. : If you are interested to learn about Pau making, look out for Valerie’s  classes at Shermay’s. I heard that all the Pau classes are now full so the earliest that these will be repeated would most likely be next year. So you may want to enquire with the school.

P.S. : I am also hoping that this would qualify for Edith’s Heritage Food Trail event. Somewhat unorthodox as it does not really celebrate my Hainanese heritage in particular but I do hope you can join in the fun at Edith’s.

Dough Recipe : (from Dim Sum in Hong Kong)

Hong Kong Flour            150g
Dry Yeast                         2g
Baking powder                 2g
Sugar                                28g
Milk                                  75g
Shortening (crisco)           2g (or lard)

Method :

1. Place all ingredients into a mixer and blend until smooth at low speed.
2. Ferment for 10mins at room temperature.
3. Blend in mixer again for 5 mins.
4. Divide the dough into pieces of 19g each. Roll out to form a round wrapping of about 2 inches in diameter.
5. Place filling in the center of the wrapping and pleat the edge to seal the bun with a round top.
6. Proof Pau at room temperature for 45 mins.
7. Steam Pau over boiling water for 15mins.