Tough Steamed Bun Dough

I am making a Chinese-style steamed bun and the dough is on its first rise cycle. I noticed that the dough was very tough and when I pulled it apart with my fingers it began to rip. I barely even kneaded it because I was afraid to over-knead, so now I'm thinking maybe I added too much flour? I followed the recipe exactly. I am not familiar with steamed doughs so I am not sure what it is supposed to look like. Thank you!



Andrea N. July 31, 2014
Dough for Chinese-style steamed buns can seem dryish your first time out but it should not be tough. After all, you have to manipulate it into a filled bun! You could moisten your hands with water and knead the moisture into the dough but that's may not do much.

With the basic steamed bun dough that I developed for the "Asian Dumplings" cookbook, there's a 45 to 60 minute first rise, then you fill and shape the buns, rise again for roughly 30 minutes before cooking. The recipe you're using may have hedged on less water because of the steam heat cooking. If it's a good Chinese bao dough, it should be pliable and very active -- e.g. you can practically witness its rise as it sits. Plus, it should be able to endure steaming and panfrying (oil and water in a skillet).

If you're using fancy flour like King Arthur, switch to a softer flour. I suggest to my readers and students to use an all-purpose flour with a moderate amount of gluten. Gold Medal works great; I think Whole Foods' brand would too. You get the idea. Go unbleached for savory buns. Use bleached flour for more tender buns or sweet fillings like red bean.

We'd all like to have tough, firm buns but not necessarily the ones you're trying to craft. Try the dough again and see what happens?
HalfPint July 29, 2014
I think you have to knead it about 5-10 minutes and then let it rest for an hour or two. I find that overkneaded dough needs to rest for a bit to relax the gluten.

What recipe are you using?
babytiger July 29, 2014
I've ran into the same issue before. One recipe came out really lumpy. The buns were eatable, but not very pretty. I tried another recipe and it came out just fine. All I can suggest is that you give a different recipe a try.
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