• Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

This is my recipe for soft and fluffy gluten free, vegan Chinese Steamed Buns (BAO)


BAO, Chinese steamed buns
Gluten Free and Vegan Chinese Steamed Buns (BAO)

These buns were a regular feature of my childhood. On treat days, my Mom would bring them home with her after work in a box also filled with pastry and cake! In Trinidad and Tobago we call them POWs and the filling would usually be chicken or pork. There was a time when we could buy these from a street vendor. Now we have Chinese Food Restaurants at almost every corner (seriously, there are about 5 restaurants within 2 minutes from my home)!


The ones I grew up with are smooth all around, not pinched or styled as with other variations. I also used a veggie filling in my buns but you can use whatever you like. Taking inspiration from the movie Kung Fu Panda, you could even make a red bean paste filling.


I can't guarantee that this is the best Chinese steamed buns ever. However, if you've been missing out on this for sometime or just craving a taste, this is way, way more than just satisfactory...when you try it remember I told you so


GF, Vegan Chinese Steamed Buns (BAO)
Gluten Free Chinese Steamed Buns (BAO)

How to make Gluten Free and Vegan Chinese Steamed Buns (BAO)

(Recipe makes about 8 buns 2½” – 3” diameter)


Equipment you will need


Parchment paper cut into 3 1/2” squares or just bigger than whatever will be the final diameter of your buns


Bamboo steamer (If you do not have a bamboo steamer you can use a metal steamer or a wire rack. Whatever you use ensure that the steam cannot condense and drip onto the buns. You may have to wrap a towel to cover the lid of your improvised steamer)


Large pot (large enough for the steamer to sit comfortably on top)


Ingredients

¾ cup oat flour*

½ cup brown rice flour*

2 tbsp tapioca starch*

2 tbsp potato starch*

1 tsp xanthan gum*

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp yeast

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp white sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vinegar

2/3 cup warm water (105-115°F, more if needed)

Tapioca starch for shaping dough

Filling of choice**

Notes

*A bread flour blend can replace the oat flour, rice flour and starches. Substitute 1½ cups of your flour blend for the ingredients listed here. If your flour blend has xanthan gum do not add more.


**The filing should not be watery or runny as this will weaken the dough once it’s filled


Traditional steamed buns are white in color. These buns will be slightly yellow because of the flour and the ingredient that are used


Directions

Place all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix to combine


Make a well in center of the dry ingredients. Add all of the wet ingredients. Stir or mix to form a smooth dough. The dough should be soft, sticky, holding together and fairly easy to work by hand. Add more water a little at a time if needed to achieve the right consistency

Clover the bowl tightly and set the dough aside to rest for at least 30 minutes

A few minutes before the end of your rest period, bring a large pot of water to boil. The water should never touch the bottom of the steamer

To form the buns, dust your work surface with some of the tapioca starch, have your filling ready. The dough should have risen a bit, re-knead it just enough to form a somewhat smooth ball again


Pinch off a piece of the dough, enough to make a round ball about 2½” - 3” in diameter. Roll around on your work surface or in your hands until it is as smooth as possible (if your dough is not smooth at this point you will not get a smooth bun). Lightly oiled hands will help. Once smooth, flatten the dough into a round disc. Peace some filling in the center of the disc, pinch the dough together to seal the bun. Place the bun, sealed side down, on a piece of the parchment paper (you may have to moisten the paper with a very small drop of water to keep the bun in place). Put the bun into the steamer (leave room between the buns). Repeat the process to make the rest of the buns


Because this is gluten free dough, you do not want the filled buns to sit and rise for too long. I often find that by the time I am finished filling about 4 - 5 buns, that the first batch is ready (you only need a small increase in size, the buns will puff further while they cook). It takes abut 8 minutes to steam and cook the buns so I setup the first batch to cook while I am filling the second set. When the buns are done remove for the heat and plate immediately. They are best served warm

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  • Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Updated: 15 hours ago


Just out of the oven, Gluten Free Vegan Lemon Chocolate Chip Loaf
Gluten Free Vegan Lemon Chocolate Chip Loaf

This loaf is delicious, the lemon and chocolate is a wonderful pair. It’s also a perfect anytime treat, I’ve had it for breakfast with nut butter (way indulgent) and I’ve had it as dessert, it’s great whenever. There are enough chocolate chips to have one in every bite, yes please! I use dark chocolate which I find overall is sweet enough (this loaf is not as sweet as cake for example). You can use whatever chocolate you want


I have to admit though that every time I’ve made this loaf the lemon/lime amount needed adjusting because the strength of the citrus flavor was different each time. You could certainly use a lemon/lime extract instead of the fresh juice. If you do that, you will need to add an acid like vinegar to react with the baking powder and baking soda, allowing the loaf to rise (see notes below)


I hope you enjoy this recipe, message me if you have questions


Gluten Free and Vegan Lemon Chocolate Chip Bread

by Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen


Ingredients

¼ cup almond flour

1 cup brown rice flour

2 tbsp potato starch

2 tbsp tapioca starch

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/3 cup cane sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ cup lemon/lime juice (see notes)

¾ cup + 2 tbsp coconut milk

¼ cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 oz chocolate chips

Notes

How much lemon/lime juice you use depends on the quality and potency of what you have. I suggest adding ½ cup of coconut milk to start (along with the other wet ingredients) and enough lemon or lime to taste. When your batter is properly mixed add just the amount of coconut milk you need for a soft, loose muffin type batter


If you decide not to use lemon or lime, add ½ tbsp vinegar (add the vinegar as well if you decide to use a lemon extract)


Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°F


Grease or line a small baking tin (around “7 x 4” external dimensions)


Place all of the dry ingredients (not the chocolate chips) in a bowl and mix well


Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined (see my notes above about the lemon/lime juice). The batter should be visibly “fluffy” somewhere between a cake and muffin batter. Add more coconut milk if needed


Mix in the chocolate chips


Spoon the batter into the baking tin and smooth the top as little or as much as you wish. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (does not need to be “dry”)


Once baked remove from the loaf from tin and set on a wire rack to cool

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  • Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Updated: Apr 6

In part 1 of this series, we discussed why we need a multi-tiered solution to building a good gluten free flour blend and ultimately successful gluten free recipes.


On their own, individual gluten free flour or components:

We also established that the basic formula for a good gluten free flour blend looks something like this:

Gluten Free Flour Blend = Primary flour + Secondary flour + Starch


And a good recipe will look like this:

Gluten Free Recipe = Gluten Free Flour Blend + Binder + Fat + Protein + Liquid


Finally we learnt that just as there are different types of regular wheat flour blends, e.g. bread flour, cake flour or pastry flour, there must correspondingly be specific gluten free flour blends by application. Bread flour needs more protein than cake flour because it needs a stronger support structure.


This last fact is very important because in spite of the claims gluten free 1 to 1 flour or all purpose flour blends cannot perform successfully in every type of recipe without “help”.


How to Make a Good Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend

We will be focusing on yeasted bread for now. What are the characteristics of a good loaf of bread?

What are the characteristics of a good bread
The characteristics of a good loaf of bread

The issue of crust, crumb and colour can largely be addressed by these factors:

  • Choosing the right gluten free flour

  • The addition of suitable non gluten forming proteins

  • Using the right amount of hydration

  • The quality and quantity of the leavening agent

  • Introducing a binding agent

  • Incorporating fat into the recipe

The right gluten free flour for making bread starts with a decent amount of protein. Non gluten proteins can hold water and stabilize starch gel formed during gelatinization. Their addition can also reduce amino acid deficits, making the bread healthier. Ultimately these proteins help with structure, color and texture producing a far more acceptable end product with a longer ‘shelf life”. Using my formula (see above) a bread flour blend will more than likely have 2 or more types of flour, one of which at the very least must be higher in protein. To balance out the blend and to produce a loaf with better texture you should also include one or more starches.


Sources of non gluten forming Protein in Gluten Free Bread


There are multiple ways to add non gluten forming proteins to your bread blend for e.g. via:

  • Higher Protein Flour

  • Protein Powders

  • Whey Isolates

  • Liquid for e.g. dairy or non dairy milk

  • Eggs

Let’s take a look at how some of my favorite and not so favorite gluten free flours stack up in terms of protein. Please note I am sharing what works for me, there are other successful formulas available and there are more gluten free flours on the market than I referenced. Also, my usability score is based on my experiences using various gluten free flours. The rankings are from 1 (great) -3 (not so much).

Rank of various gluten free flours
Comparison of different types of gluten free flour.

Flours that rank 3 on my usability score are more challenging to work with. In the wrong quantity they can negatively affect the crumb, taste and mouth feel of the bread. Unless you are a seasoned gluten free baker I suggest leaving them alone. We can also conclude that higher protein is not the only thing we must factor in when choosing which flour to use. How it behaves when water is added, the taste, the colour will also influence the choices we make.


Most used Gluten Free Flours
Comparison of How Each Gluten Free Flour Behaves

I have highlighted the flours I use most often or those I stock in my pantry. While how well it works is one deciding factor, availability and my personal preferences with regard to taste carried a lot of weight. In other words you may not like what I like and that is okay, the goal here is to make it easier for you to make your own blend


Let’s look again at one of the bread flour blends I shared in Part 1 of this series. You can treat these percentages as universal formulas to help build your own blends from now on

Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Formula


Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Flour Blend by Percentage 1
Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Option 1

The primary flour is the one you want to use the most. You may choose this based on taste, colour or whatever criteria you wish as long as it is NOT a 3 on my usability scale. You can also use one secondary flour or two as is shown here. I may choose a secondary flour which is higher in protein if my primary flour is lacking. Generally though I am trying to pair flavours or textures that work well together. I would also take into consideration what I have learnt about how each flour behaves. For example I have given Almond Flour a usability score of 2. However, I have found it works better in cookies, brownies, sweet or quick breads and in small quantities for bread dough. With that information in mind I may choose to stay away from almond flour in my bread blend.


So continuing with the sample bread flour blend I’ve shared (option 1) what if I wanted to replace the Buckwheat flour? With all of the information we’ve discussed this far, you can use more oat flour and/or sorghum flour, why? Go back to the flour comparison table, buckwheat, oat and sorghum have very similar profiles making them easily interchangeable.


At this point I must reiterate that this is what works for me. There are many formulas out there, many different types of flour and many many more forms of non gluten forming proteins available. Eggs have proven to be exceptional at improving the texture and overall “acceptability” of gluten free bread which means you have more options (flour) to choose from. Dairy protein and whey isolates are also strong contenders. As a default I do not bake with eggs or dairy, so I have found other ways to get the results I want. Lastly there are new(ish) advances in the science of gluten free baking. For example there is a product called Expandex Modified Tapioca Starch (see also Ultratex) that works wonders on the textural quality of gluten free bread. I have used it with great success and at some point it may become a pantry staple


Ready for something more complicated? I have done a few more options of the gluten free bread flour blend using my “formula”.

Several Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Flour Blend Options
Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Options

The important takeaway here is that my “primary flour” accounts for 50% - 60% percent of my bread flour mix. At least 10% is a starch and the secondary flour/ starch is the difference. We will chat more about starches in another post. For now, note that tapioca starch is a more chewy, elastic starch and potato starch is a bit fluffier and can add moisture to baked goods (in many parts of the world, potato starch and potato flour are not the same, I am referring to potato starch only).

In addition to all of this I love adding ground flax or chia seeds to round off my recipe. Though these are good for binding and can be used as egg replacements, I use them because they are healthy and add a more robust bread flavour. In fact too much of either could be unpleasant. Read on and I’ll show you how the recipe comes together.


Moving from the bread flour blend to a gluten free bread recipe


A good gluten free bread recipe also follows this basic formula:

Gluten Free Bread Recipe = Gluten Free Flour Blend + Binder + Fat + Protein + Liquid


We will continue with Option 1 as our flour blend of choice. In this recipe xanthan gum does the binding, the oil is the main source of the fat, the non gluten protein is contributed mainly by the flour or milk if used and liquid is the water or milk. Resting the dough without leavening agents is a simple way to improve the quality of the finished product. Once you incorporate the yeast there is no need to let the dough rise twice as is the case with wheat flour.


This is undoubtedly a lot of information. As a start use the recipe below as is (no need to worry about the percentages) and see what results you get. Troubleshoot and tweak the recipe until it works for you. For example:

  • Dense loaf- may need more liquid (the dough will usually be wetter than regular wheat flour dough)

  • Gummy on the inside- bake for a longer time ( an hour or more is not uncommon)

  • Loaf sinks in the middle while baking- dough was proofed for too long (it does not get better the more you let it rise in the tin)

  • Baking tin is too big- the bread will spread out not up and the result may be a dense loaf

  • Baking tin is too small- the loaf will also be dense because the bread cannot rise over the tin without support

  • Generally unappealing after baking- use an oven thermometer to verify if your oven’s temperature is calibrated correctly

Once you’ve mastered the recipe as is, you can begin to manipulate the ingredients, preferably one at a time. Substitute ingredients that are similar in composition and similar based on what they do in the recipe. There are also ingredients that cannot be substituted 1:1, so do some research before making a decision. For example, can ground chia seeds be used as a 1 to 1 substitute for flaxmeal? The answer is, not all the time, chia is more gelatinous in water than flax and therefore stronger as a binding agent.


Everything I’ve shared including the percentages becomes easier to understand in time. Why? You will be doing the one thing this “how to essay” cannot teach and that is practicing. It is your willingness to persist, to make mistakes again and again that will eventually make you more confident and competent in the kitchen. You will begin to discover what flour or what brand you like and why. You will automatically develop your own “usability” score. And one day, if not now, you will explore other grains or legumes to incorporate into your baking.


I intend to share more information about starches, binders, ingredients in general. We will also explore a flour blend for more general purposes. Look out as well for tips and techniques to improve your baking (check out the Tangzong technique). My research continues so I will update this article if necessary, always striving to share more relevant, factual and useful information.


Send me a message or leave a comment below if you need anything clarified. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner


(this post was shared on Nov 25th, 2020)


An option for a Gluten Free Vegan Bread Recipe
Beautiful Crumb on Gluten Free Vegan Bread

Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Recipe


Ingredients

1¼ cup brown rice flour

½ cups buckwheat flour

½ cup oat flour

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 tbsp psyllium husk powder

OR

1¼ tsp xanthan gum

2 tbsp ground flaxmeal

2 tsp brown sugar

½ tbsp baking powder

2½ tsp instant yeast

½ tsp salt

¼ cup vegetable oil (I use coconut)

1¼ - 1½ cup warm water (105-115°F)* ½ tbsp vinegar


*You can use milk e.g. coconut milk instead of water

Making the Bread

In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients including the flaxmeal, use only 1/2 tsp of the yeast and none of the baking powder. Set aside Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients (except the vinegar), kneading or mixing until thoroughly combined. The dough should be slightly sticky but holding together and fairly easy to work with Cover the bowl with cling wrap or other and set aside in a cool place to rest for about an hour. Resting the dough improves the texture of the finished loaf At the end of the rest period add the rest of the yeast (2 tsp), the baking powder and mix or knead well. Add the vinegar and mix or knead again. The dough should be slightly sticky or shaggy but holding together (like a thick brownie batter, scoopable not pourable). Add more water or milk a little at a time if needed Scoop the dough into a baking tin (approx 7 1/2"l x 4"w x 4.5"h internal measurements). You can smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon. Wet the spoon, it will be easier to work with Allow the dough to rise just over the rim of the tin and no more (the bread can collapse if it rises too much) Once the dough is in the tin, preheat oven to 350°F. When it is ready place the dough in the oven and bake for 50 minutes After 50 minutes, lower the heat to 275 and bake for another 15 mins. After the 15 mins, turn your oven off and leave the bread there for another 15 mins, you can take the loaf out of the pan for this (if the bread feels really firm on all sides, especially the bottom of the loaf you can skip this step)

Cut the bread when it's completely cool. Store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for an extended period of time

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