I’m more of a lotus paste filling type of gal when it comes to baos, but I can’t deny the aroma and taste of fresh custard buns when they’re sold on the dim sum carts. They’re usually pretty rich and I can’t eat more than one, but that initial bite always get me - when it’s done well.
The problem is that too many custard buns in the west fall short of what custard buns are supposed to be - super pillowy buns surrounding a creamy, rich, slightly thickened custard filling that is sweet but not too sweet, and ever so slightly salty and gritty from the mashed salty duck eggs, which they are made from.
This vegan version was better than I had imagined and I would put it up against any duck egg custard bun. The secret is chickpea flour, which not only thickens up the filling, but adds a slight savoriness and grittiness that you just don’t get by putting in custard powder.
- If the filling starts to separate after the addition of oil or Earth Balance, use an electric mixer or blender to get it back to being homogenized.
- Make sure to knead the dough enough. You want to roll out the circles in a way where the centers are thicker so that you get more “bread” around the custard filling when you bite into it. For the bottoms, folding them like dumplings will provide a thicker layer of dough and thus bread on the bottom.
- Not that if you are not using bleached flour, once the baos are steamed, the colors will turn more of a creamy, off-white color.