Hua Juan (Steamed Scallion Buns)

Hua Juan
By popular request, here is my mom's hua juan recipe. Hua juan are steamed buns flavored with scallions and twisted to look kind of like a flower (hua juan means "flower twist" in Mandarin).

It is a yeast dough recipe, so you'll have to plan ahead to allow time for the dough to rise and then for the shaped buns to proof. Also, you'll need a way to steam the buns; I use my stock pot with the pasta insert and steamer insert for two layers of steamy goodness.

Hua Juan (Steamed Scallion Buns)
makes 12 buns

For the dough:
1/2 packet yeast (a little more than 1 teaspoon)
3 cups flour
1 cup milk, warmed to a little hotter than a fever (can you tell this recipe is from my mom?)
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons chopped scallions, green part only
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Turn on oven to lowest setting. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the dough and knead. Cover with a moist cloth or seal tightly and place in oven for 1 hour.

Mix together the ingredients for the glaze and allow to macerate.

Knead the dough again after it has doubled in size and then separate into 12 egg-sized pieces.

Tools to make hua juan
Roll each piece into a long oval and cut into long strips, leaving a 1/4" section attached at one end. Brush lightly with the glaze.

Twist and shape buns and place on square of parchment paper.

Pre-proofed hua juan
Cover the buns and let sit in oven again for another 40 - 60 minutes to proof.

Post-proofed hua juan
Steam for 13 minutes.

Just-steamed hua juan
If not not eating immediately, transfer to a freezer bag once it has cooled and freeze. To reheat, wrap with plastic wrap or put in a fold-and-close sandwich bag and microwave for 45 seconds.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use the dough itself to make man tou (steamed bread buns) or stuff it with red bean paste to make dou sha bao. Once I even stuffed it with leftover dumpling filling and made rou bao zi.