Silly, silly me to have doubted myself. Or rather doubted my self doubt … about my ability to cook with yeast that is. I decided to seize the day, take the proverbial bull by its horns, conquer my fears … blah blah (you get the picture) and try a recipe that required yeast: Char Siu Pau, vegetarian.
The recipes I browsed through looked pretty easy enough and I went out and got all the ingredients: Hong Kong flour, wheat starch (never used it before), double action baking powder … the works.
I was excited. This could be great, I thought.
I had too much vegetarian char siu left over (from the wan tan mee recipe) and thought this would be a great way to finish it.
And so I began. I read through the recipe three times and followed it carefully all the way through. I kneaded like never before for a full 20 mins. Man, that’s hard work and though my good friend and colleague Marty enjoys kneading (she make bread — all types — the old fashioned way, with no breadmaker) I absolutely don’t see any joy in it. Except maybe the prospect of building some muscle in one arm.
Then I covered the well kneaded dough with a damp tea towel for 30 mins for it to rise.
It was supposed to rise to DOUBLE it’s size. Mine didn’t look like it rose AT ALL.
Never mind, I thought. Maybe it’ll work anyway. The yeast is in there. As is the double action baking powder. Perhaps they’ll kick in later. So I shaped the dough into balls and rolled them into 3 inch wide circles, filled them with my char siu filling (this turned out great) and steamed them for 15 mins a batch.
Boo Hoo. They didn’t become fluffy. They rose a little and they tasted great … like the real deal … but they weren’t fluffy. They weren’t rock hard, but they weren’t fluffy like how Pau is supposed to be.
I was so dejected and I text messaged Marty to report my failure. She suggested several reasons for the failure: “yeast dead, water too hot, water not hot enough … many reasons”. Boo Hoo.
I decided to tr y again. Another recipe. What happened? Same deal. Sigh. What do i do other than stuff the remaining packets of dry yeast deep into my pantry and accept — for now — that yeast is not my friend. Pooh.