Red Bean Hedgehog Buns (recipe adapted from Poh Ling Yeow's cookbook)
1 tsp dry yeast
20g caster sugar
100ml warm water
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
30g castor sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
100ml warm water
300g red bean paste
1) To make the yeast mixture, combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl, adding a tiny amount of the warm water to emulsify into a rough paste before mixing with the remaining warm water.
2) Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 10 minutes or until surface of the mixture is covered in bubbles.
3) To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk briefly to mix the dry ingredients and make a well at the centre.
4) If you are mixing by hand add the yeast mixture, vegetable oil and most but not all of the 100ml warm water to the well and gather the dry ingredients into the centre until mostly incorporated into a lumpy mass. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding a little extra water or flour if required, until you have a smooth, pliable dough that is not sticking to the benchtop.
5) If using an electric cake mixer, tip all the ingredients, withholding a small amount of the water, into the mixing bowl and mix with a dough hook on 1st speed for about 3 minutes or until smooth.
6) Transfer the dough into a large oiled bowl (glass is best) and cover with cling wrap. Allow to prove or rise in a warm, draught-free spot for 2-3 hours or until double its original size.
7) To make a hedgehog, punch the dough down and tear off a golfball-sized chunk of dough (about 40g), shape it into a ball, squash with the palm of your hand, then, using your fingers, ease the circle into a 5mm thick teardrop shape.
8) Place a teaspoonful of red bean paste (about 20g) at the round end of the tear, then gather the sides in and begin pinching into a ball but then follow the pinching to the pointy end to form a teardrop shape.
9) Sit it with the seam facing down, then with a very sharp pair of tweezers, position the eyes and nose at the pointy end with 3 sesame seeds and push in lightly to make sure the seeds are secure. (if the seeds do not stick, dab a bit of water on the dough before sticking in the seeds)
10) To create the quills, use the sharp tip of scissors to snip partially into the dough in arcs that begin around the face, then work gradually towards its bottom. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
11) Rest each hedgehog on a small square of baking paper and allow to prove for 30 minutes or until double in size, then place in a large steamer, cover and steam for 10 minutes over high heat.
12) Serve immediately.