Bread Making: Mi Ku – Steamed Buns

“Mi Ku” are pink steamed buns that are usually made for traditional Chinese celebrations. My MIL usually makes them to celebrate Chinese New Year and a few other special celebrations through the year. Usually my SILs and I will assist her. In recent times, Aristotle expressed an interest to help make them so my MIL taught him the process of making these “pillow” buns.

Aristotle loves to eat these buns and in light of what we found out about bread recently, I thought it was good for him to learn how to make his own bread. Additionally, it is said that children who get involved in the production of their own food tend to appreciate it better. In a nutshell, cooking = good experience for kids.

Mi Ku buns for Chinese New Year...

What’s in a Mi Ku?

My MIL usually works on the fly so I’m never really sure of the exact proportions of ingredients but I think it is approximately what follows. I’m afraid I cannot be more exact than this because my MIL can eyeball the dough and decide what’s missing. This method of making Mi Ku is easier if there are two people working together with an extra person to assist.

Edit: I finally got the correct portions which I have edited below…

Starter Dough:

  • 400g flour
  • 500ml warm water
  • 100g sugar
  • 10g yeast (2 tsp)

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and divide into two portions. Prove for 2 hours (beat it down three times after it expands and leave it to rise the final time before making the dough).

Main Dough – divide into two portions (add red food dye to one portion only):

  • 2.6kg flour
  • 800ml water
  • 200ml oil
  • 500g sugar
  • pandan leaves
  • red colour food dye

1. Dissolve the sugar into water over heat. Add the pandan leaves. Cool and divide into two equal portions. Add red colour food dye to one portion. Set aside.

2. Using a large clean surface for kneading, make two piles of 1.3kg flour (now do you see why it helps to have two people?). Make a “well” in the center. Pour starter dough into the well and start combining the flour.

3. Slowly add the rest of the cooled sugar water – red liquid to one pile, clear liquid to the other (this is where the third person comes in – to add the liquid while the other two are kneading). Continue to knead.

4. When the dough is nicely mixed (the pink dough should be even coloured), make another well and slowly work in the oil. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth.

5. Divide the dough into little balls. Wrap the ball of white dough with the pink dough. Make sure you moisten the white dough before wrapping with the red dough or they will separate after cooking. Shape the dough into a figure eight. Lay it onto some grease-proof paper and allow to rise (about an 1 hour or so – or until doubled in size).

6. Steam the buns over boiling water for 15 minutes.

Mi Ku Bun Making

Okay, okay! I know what you’re thinking… I promised “easy ways to eat a little healthier” but spending a couple of hours in the kitchen making this bread is HARD work! Well, you can make the process a little easier. It’s only hard work when you have to work with a traditionalist like my MIL (bless her because she really puts a lot of love into her cooking). For the rest of us Undomestic Goddesses… Since the pink colour is for festival use, you don’t have to add the dye if you are making these buns for personal consumption. This means you only need to make one dough and you can chuck everything into a mixer if you have a dough hook.

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