One of my favorite memories from teaching at a camp in Hong Kong was arriving at the Hong Kong Baptist University cafeteria in the morning and getting noodle soup with pickled mustard, turnip cakes, green tea, and nai wong bao egg custard buns.
I recently had egg yolks on hand and a huge craving for Chinese food, so I (with the help of my wonderful boyfriend and my buddy Katherine since my right hand is out of service), pulled together these lai wong bao.
They're steamed sweet bread with a thick filling like the middle of Boston Cream Pie. Every recipe I looked up used ingredients like "Hong Kong flour" and "custard powder", so I just made my own recipe.
NAI WONG BAO (奶黄包)- Chinese egg custard buns
-3 c. all purpose flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1/4 c. sugar
-1 c. warm water
-1.5 tsp. instant yeast
-1 Tbs. butter
-1/3 c. & 1.5 Tbs. corn starch
-1/2 c. evaporated milk
-1/4 c. sugar
-3 egg yolks
-1/4 c. butter
Put the sugar in the warm water and stir until integrated. Add yeast, stir, and let sit until frothy. In a bowl, mix the salt and flour. When the yeast is ready, add to flour mixture, add the butter, and knead until elastic (10-15 min). Roll into a tight ball and put in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a wet towel for an hour to an hour and a half.
When the dough is almost done rising, start the custard. Put the starch, milk, and sugar into a sauce pan over low heat, and cook until bubbly and thickening. When the whole surface is bubbling, remove from heat and add butter in chunks, stirring until melted. Place the yolks in a separate bowl, and add tiny spoonfuls of the milk-starch mixture one at a time while stirring. This heats the yolks up slowly without scrambling them. When you've added half the milk-starch mix, pour the yolk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk-starch. Cook this over low heat, stirring constantly, until you're able to draw lines in the bottom of the pot and the mixture is very thick, about 2-4 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.
When your dough is ready, divide into 12 even balls. Using a rolling pin, roll the balls into circles about 3 inches in diameter, big enough to put 2 teaspoonfuls of filling in. Spoon in those 2 teaspoonfuls, draw the edges toward each other to form a ball around the filling, and pinch and twist the bottom so the filling doesn't come out (don't worry if they don't completely stay shut, mine didn't and they turned out fine because the dough rises together in the steamer). Place this pinched side down on a plate and cover with a wet towel. Do this for all 12.
Meanwhile, put on a couple of inches of water to boil in a pot with a steamer basket. When boiling, turn the heat to med-low and put the buns in the basket, leaving an inch around each so they may rise. Put on a lid, and steam for about 13 minutes, or until the skin is tight & springy and the buns have risen twice their size. No, I didn't use any little wax paper squares, they came off the steamer rather easily.
Now enjoy your delicious goodies and think happy, dim-sum thoughts.