BBQ Lentil Baozi

Life isn't complete until you've had a baozi. Also known simply as bao or Chinese steamed buns. They. Are. So. Good. I first had these buns as a child. We bought them frozen from some local store (or Costco, maybe?) and I remember getting home from school and throwing them in the microwave for a quick snack. Several years ago, I was in Chicago and discovered an entire bao eatery in one of the large malls there. Utterly overjoyed to be reunited with my love for all things baozi, when I returned back to Alaska obviously the only thing to do was to go on a great bao search. Unfortunately, I couldn't find them anywhere! So sad. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziBefore you shed a tear for such a tragic tale, you should know...I have been reunited once more with my beloved bao. By making my own! Not being able to find frozen baozi within 60 miles of my home may be one of the greatest culinary things to have ever happened to me. Like pretty much all things in life, baozi are better made from scratch, with love. Even if they do come out with a few imperfections. 

They're fairly easy to make too, albeit a wee bit involved. I'll say though, it was a great little Saturday food project. Lots of people do crafts or whathaveyou on their days off. Not me, give me ALL the food! I will make more food. Besides, crafts = lame. You can't eat crafts...usually. I'm coming to the realization I'd probably be much skinnier if I did craft projects instead of food might be seeing more crafts on the blog henceforth.

Anyways, what I am trying to tell you is that the baozi I stuffed my face with in my youth were BBQ pork. I'm making a really gross and disgusted face right now that I wish you could see. Who needs pig muscles...besides pigs? Lentils and sweet potatoes did the trick perfectly in a sweetass homemade BBQ sauce, all nestled inside a warm and pillowy soft steamed bun. What's better than a baozi? Not much. If you've never had one, you're in for a real treat. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi

BBQ Lentil Baozi

Makes 12 steamed buns

  • Dough:
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. malt barley sweetener (optional)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Notes: There'll be a little bit of the filling leftover but it's fantastic on its own. 

To start the buns, whisk together all the dough ingredients in a small bowl except for the flour, until there are no more yeast clumps and the sugar is dissolved. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes in a warm place, until foamy.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziIn a large bowl, add the flour and then pour in the yeast mixture slowly while stirring to combine completely. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziProduce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziKnead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes, until smooth and soft. Form into a ball.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziWash out the flour bowl (or don't if you're lazy like me), dry, and coat with a nonstick cooking spray. Place the dough ball in the bowl and cover loosely with a dishcloth. Place in a warm spot to proof for about 1 hour, until it's doubled in size. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziMeanwhile, prepare the filling by bringing a large pot of the lentils, water, salt, and 2 whole garlic cloves to boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain very well, extracting all the water.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziWhile the lentils are simmering, heat the oil over medium in a large frying pan and add the onion, minced garlic, chipotle chili powder, and ground ginger. Allow to saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown. 

Add the sweet potatoes and saute for 10 additional minutes, until they begin to soften. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi

Add in the rest of the filling ingredients and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are done simmering. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi

Once the lentils are done, drain them very well and add to the sweet potato mixture. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until all or most of the water is gone. It should be a pasty consistency, not soupy. Ensure it doesn't stick and burn at the bottom of the pan. Remove the two whole garlic cloves and remove from heat when the water is gone.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziOnce the dough is done rising, punch it down and roll out into a large, flat rectangle on a floured surface. Now, form into a 1-2 inch wide log. Cut log into 12 slices. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziPrepare your steamer. I use an electric steamer/rice cooker. Fill the pot with a few inches of water, put in the steamer basket, shut the lid and bring to a boil. My steamer basket only allowed four buns to steam at a time, so I did them in batches of three. Be sure to add more water as needed throughout the batches.

Meanwhile, roll out four dough slices into circles. Place about 2 Tbsp. of the filling into a lump in the middle of the circle and then pull up all the sides and pinch completely closed. Repeat with the remaining three. Flip so the seam is on the underside and place on a flat surface to rest for 10 minutes. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziOnce the water is boiling and the buns have rested, coat the steamer basket with a nonstick cooking spray and place the buns, seam down into the steamer basket. Try not to let them touch if possible, as they will puff up when steaming. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil Baozi

Allow them to steam for 15 minutes. In the mean time, prep your next batch of buns. When they are done steaming, unplug the steamer and crack the lid just a teensy bit. Very slowly, like over the course of one minute, open the lid. If you open it all at once, the difference in the ambient air temperature versus the steam temperature will cause the buns to collapse and they won't be pillowy, but instead dense, hardened and sad. Take the time to very, very, slowly open the lid. I also peek inside to make sure that they aren't falling as I open the lid.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziRemove them with a spatula and set aside to cool. Repeat with the two remaining batches, ensuring that they are allowed to rest for 10 minutes prior to steaming and that the lid is opened slowly once done steaming. Add more water as needed and bring back to a boil before steaming.

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziServe warm. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds prior to eating, if refrigerated. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziPillowy, BBQ deliciousness. 

Produce On Parade - BBQ Lentil BaoziFunkin' out groovy style. [soundcloud url="" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin Icing

So the other day Todd tells me that he wants to make a snack for "Boss's Day"...and by snack he tells me, "I mean treat." And by him...he means, me. Okay, that's only sort of true. He's a pretty darn good kitchen helper. Bringing something to a non-vegan food fest is really your chance to say, "See? I eat real food. Good food! Delicious food. And it doesn't have to have any animal products in it." But mostly it's a cry of, "See? I'm not a weirdo! Everyone all up in this joint asking me for the recipe and I'm the weirdo. Yeah, riiight. Hah!" Well, at least that's how it goes for me anyway. Somehow I still end up the weirdo, but I'm certain that's due to my unmistakable discomfort in all social situations. I'm off track. Anyways, I pondered and pondered about what I could make that: A) I wouldn't have to go the store for to get some random ingredients and B) omnivores would enjoy, wholeheartedly.

I came up with cinnamon rolls. This is a pretty strange idea for me for several reasons. One being that most people buy cinnamon rolls from the store (I think). Two, I certainly had never made them before (case in point about my ignorance regarding cinnamon roll acquiring). The third reason, I had to learn the hard way. It's that after making fresh cinnamon really, really don't want to part with them. I'm mean, just look at the them! Gah! 

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingThese easy rolls are layered with pumpkin pie spice instead of regular ol' cinnamon and the Autumnal (yea it's a word) icing is infused with pumpkin puree and topped with finishing salt. Oh so snobby! After Todd and I split one, I turned to him and said, "Well that was one of the dumbest things I've ever done." Next time I think I'll just make cookies or something...

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin Icing

Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin Icing

Inspired By Minimalist Baker

Makes 9 rolls

  • --For The Rolls--
  • 1 cup vanilla coconut milk (carton, I like Silk)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 instant yeast packet
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • --For The Icing--
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Kahlua or vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla coconut milk (carton)
  • 3 Tbsp. pumpkin puree 
  • sprinkle of salt
  • flake salt to top (finishing salt) - optional

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and the butter together until the butter has melted and the it has reached 110 F. Do not let it boil. The milk should be about a warm bathwater temperature. If it gets too hot, allow it to cool slightly or it will kill the yeast. When the milk is 110 F, transfer to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk (do not stir) and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Then, add in the salt and 1 Tbsp. of sugar and stir gently to incorporate. 

Now, add in the flour in six steps, never stirring too much. Once combined, lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough a few times until it becomes a round ball. Wash out that large mixing bowl, dry it, and then coat with a small amount of grapeseed or canola oil. Place the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with saran wrap and place in a warm area to rest for 1 hour. It should double in size. 

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Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingLightly flour your work surface again and when the dough is done rising, punch it down once or twice and then roll it out into a large, medium-thin rectangle. 

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingBrush evenly with the melted butter, then sprinkle on the pumpkin pie spice, followed by the sugar. Make sure it's scattered evenly across the entire rectangle. 

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingCoat a 8 in. x 8 in. clear baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray. Wait to preheat oven. Gently and evenly roll up the dough into a long log.

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingUsing a serrated knife, gently cut it into 9 even slices. Then, place each slice into the greased baking dish and cover with saran wrap. Okay, now preheat the the oven to 350 F and place the dish on that spot on your stove where the heat from the oven likes to emit. It's where I have exploded a can of Pam, and most recently where Todd melted a purple onion shaped onion keeper. You know the spot. Let the dish sit there while the oven preheats.

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingOnce the oven has reached temperature, unwrap the dish and place in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the tops of the rolls are just barely golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before glazing. 

To whip up the icing, combine everything excluding the flake salt in a small bowl or pyrex measuring cup and whisk well to incorporate. Add more milk as is needed.

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingIf the icing begins to harden by the time the cinnamon rolls are ready, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. Drizzle over the cinnamon rolls and finish with flake salt.

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin IcingEnjoy! Horde them all yourself or be super nice and share like I did.

Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin Icing Produce On Parade - Spiced Cinnamon Rolls + Pumpkin Icing

 I'm totally listening to my beloved Zee Avi – Honey Bee

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