For a long time, I've always been intrigued by making Asian pastry or Chinese pastry desserts as each time we go and have dim sum, I will note the intricate details of the dim sum but yet not know how to make them.
This time, I've learnt how to make these beautiful lao po bing or otherwise known as wife's cakes. I've found out that there are several stories that claim to have led to the birth of wife's cakes but I think this version I'm telling you now is probably the least melodramatic one. In the province of Guangdong, winter-melon puffs were made by a woman and they were highly regarded as yummy by many who have tasted it. Her husband proudly declared in public that these puffs were made by his wife and hence, the name 'wife's cakes' remain since then.
Frankly, for those who want to make a simple lao po bing, I think you have to venture elsewhere but if you are looking for a concise and detailed recipe, you will get it here.
280g plain flour
50g caster sugar
150ml water (room temperature)
200g cake flour
300g candied winter melon
80g gao fen (glutinous rice flour)
50g white sesame seeds (toasted)
10ml oil (you can use olive oil or canola oil)
10g black sesame seeds
- For the water dough, pour the flour onto your working surface and make a well in the centre. Add in caster sugar, shortening and water and knead it into a soft dough. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you may add all to your mixer and mix it until all the dough comes together and is relatively stretchable. To know if your dough is stretchable, stop your mixer and pull your dough to see if it stretches. If it only stretches abit, continue to beat for about 1 to 2 minutes and then test for the stretchability or elasticity again. Once it's elastic, stop immediately and let the dough rest on the working surface for about 20 minutes.
- For the oil dough, pour the cake flour onto the working surface and add shortening then mix well. Alternatively, you can also use your mixer to mix the dough together. Once the dough comes together, you can take it to use. Divide into 24 portions.
- Divide the water dough into 24 portions. To do this, just weigh the total dough and divide it into 24 so you will know each portion has how much weight (grams) in it.
- Take a portion of the water dough and use your rolling pin to flatten it then put a portion of the oil dough. Make sure your water dough covers the whole oil dough. Then use your rolling pin to roll it into a long thin strip vertically. From the shorter end at the top, slowly roll the dough downwards tightly to make a mini swiss roll. Once you are done with all 24 portions, let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make the filling for the lao po bing.
- Chop or mince the candied winter melon. Add the rest of the ingredients together except the white sesame seeds and divide the filling into 24 portions equally.
- Roll 1 portion of the combined pastry into circular shape with rolling pin and put the filling in the middle and pinch the edges together and seal the pastry. Place the pastry with the sealed edges face down.
- Use your hands to press the pastry gently to flatten it and if you feel it's not flattened enough, you may use your rolling pin to flatten it more. Do the same for all 23 other portions.
- Brush your pastry with beaten egg yolk (you may use 1 or 2 egg yolks) and then sprinkle with the roasted white sesame seeds.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius or 180 degrees celsius (if your oven gets heated very fast).
- Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius or 180 degrees celsius. Take note to bake your lao po bing for 12 minutes and then rotate your tray to bake for another 8 minutes.
You should get a lao po bing that looks like mine below.
To enjoy your 'harvest', you may make a cup of hot tea to go with it. This lao po bing can last for 2 weeks in airtight container or 3 months if you refrigerate it. You can reheat it in microwave for 10 seconds when you want to eat it.