I'm making a traditional Taiwanese cookie, and the recipe calls for pastry flour AND "Chinese flour." What is that? If I go to an Asian supermarket (several in my area), how do I find this? Does it have other names?
Do you have a link to the recipe or the name of the Taiwanese cookie? My guess is that it's asking for a type of rice flour, but it would help to have more context.
I bet it's rice flour...
My background is Chinese, and my family makes a wide range of cookies - the basics usually involve pastry flour, milk powder, some kind of fat, salt, egg (or yolk) and sugar. I'm not sure which type cookie you're talking about, but chances are that it is Chinese wheat flour (which is usually just wheat starch, or a combination of wheat & tapioca starches), as it contains no gluten and contributes to the crispy factor of most Chinese cookies.
If the 'Chinese flour' called for is indeed the one described above, then I would not worry about buying a bag specifically for this purpose, unless you are intending to use the rest by making other treats such as clear prawn dumplings. Substituting cornstarch, or even by using more pastry flour would do the job just fine. If you do however would like to purchase a bag from an Asian grocery, most of them do have the words 'wheat flour' printed on the bag, and 'wheat starch' declared as an ingredient.
It might have been rice flour too, but rice flour isn't too commonly used in Chinese cookies. You could most probably use finely ground rice flour though, if you're a fan of the sandy texture of some shortbreads.
I'm actually testing a recipe for a new cookbook so I need to be as precise as possible. The cookie is called "Sun Cookies" and I make two different pastry doughs that combine into a puff pastry. One pastry is made with pastry flour and the other entirely chinese flour. It has a filling like you mention, using milk powder, butter, sugar, and more flour. I'm excited to try, but it's a rather involved process so I'm trying to research first--not too much so as to not be able to properly test the written recipe, but enough that I can actually get it to happen at all. (This is the link to the project, if you're curious: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/books/allunderheaven)
Ahh I see! I know what you mean now. Well in this case, the cookie/pastry is made with a 'water dough' and a 'filling dough' inside. The water dough is usually made with all purpose or bread flour, and the filling usually is made with pastry flour. I'd go ahead with using normal AP with the water dough :) I don't think you'll fail even if you've used different ingredients as long as it has enough gluten in it for it to stretch a little, the key to these are similar to puff pastry making - you simply need to laminate the pastry without breaking the thin layers, and letting it rest for small periods between. Good luck with the project, it seems very interesting!
Cornstarch. My wifes chinese family use cornstarch as we use flour to coat items prior to frying, as their main thickener, and a key ingredient in various cookies, including almond cookies.
"Sun cookies" = tai yang bing. You could try googling for other tai yang bing recipes on-line and compare to figure out what the flour is. From looking at just a few sites, it looks like it's probably just a wheat flour. Good luck!
Thanks! It's hard not to do a ton of research (like I mentioned, trying to really test the recipe in an isolated way), but I only have access to the one page and it references other recipes. So I appreciate your help!