Thursday, 14 February 2013

Red Rosebuns

Steamed Flower Rolls or Huajuan

My most favourite colour is pink followed by red.

I like happy endings in movies – hate it when people wander away into the horizon, all alone.

I used to read Mills and Boon romances between the ages 13 and 16. And yes, not to forget Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer.

My girls tease me when I have a silly smile on my face watching a really mushy scene on TV.

So maybe that qualifies me to be a romantic.

We surely had romanced, and so very well, before we had even heard about Valentine’s Day. We didn’t spend anything at all on log-stemmed roses; they weren’t even available so easily in those days. Chocolates were to be bought in small bars, not boxes. Dining out with boyfriends was done surreptitiously, not over candlelight.

So yes, is this day of lovers a hype?  The whole world seems to be polarised into those who love Valentine’s Day and those who don’t.

Here in Australia, as all over in the world over, it’s a Hallmark Holiday, an opportunity for the hospitality and retail industries to get back into action.  After a lull over January, with pockets spent after the biggest spending spree the consumer has had at the year-end, Australians will be spending $936 Million!

The detractors say why celebrate only one day? Why pay outrageous prices for gifts and meals?

My take? Why stop people from loving one another - we see so much hatred and bigotry around! And this day is not just for boyfriend/girlfriend – this day has evolved to become of significance to anyone who loves another. 

So happy Valentine’s Day to all my friends and readers!

I was researching baozi buns on the Internet when I chanced upon these spectacular roses on an excellent blog titled Corner Café by an ace blogger Seadragon. (

I just had to make these flower rolls or huajuan, which are plain steamed buns made into flower shapes made widely in China.

Here’s SeaDragon’s recipe.


400g plain flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
20g caster sugar
6g instant dry yeast
210ml lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
1/4 teaspoon strawberry paste, or a few drops red food colouring, adjust as necessary for desired hue. 

I chose to make it almost red!

Baking paper, or patty-tin paper cases


1. If you are using the baking paper as bases for the steamed buns, cut the paper into rounds about 8cm in diameter. Set aside.

2. Sift flour, salt and caster sugar onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and stir into the flour mixture; mixing well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add colouring. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes, adjust with more flour or water if the dough feels too wet or too dry.

3. Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months).

4. Punch down, knead briefly and divide into 6 equal portions of about 110g each. Form each portion into a log and divide again equally into 5 portions of about 22g each. You should end up with 30 small portions. Form each piece into a ball and let rest for about 10 minutes (depending on how fast you work, by the time you finish rounding the last portion, the first portion would have rested enough time and should be ready to be shaped), covered loosely with cling film.

5. Roll out each ball with a small rolling pin into a thin round sheet about 8cm in diameter, with the centre slightly thicker than the edges if possible. Working with 5 sheets at a time, place the first sheet nearest to you on the working surface, place the next sheet on top of the first sheet but slightly further away from you so that it covers about half of the first sheet. Repeat lining up the next three sheets in the same way until you have a row of 5 sheets. Press the sheets together lightly so they stick together.

6. Starting from the top sheet, furthest away from you, roll the row of 5 sheets towards you like a Swiss roll. Using a chopstick or a dough scraper, cut the roll in the centre into 2 equal half pieces, using a to-and-fro sawing action. Turn the pieces upright so they resemble rosebuds.

7. Place each rosebud on a piece of the prepared baking paper round, or patty-tin paper case. Cover loosely with cling film, and let rise for about 10 to 20 minutes, or until they feel just puffy. Try not to rest too long for this final rise, or the rosebud shapes might be distorted if they rise too much. In the meantime, start boiling water in a steamer.

8. Steam the rosebud buns for about 15 minutes over moderate heat. When done, turn off the heat but do not remove the lid of the steamer, and let the buns sit inside for a further 3 minutes (this is to prevent the buns from shrinking). Then remove and serve hot.

I had no clue what to serve them with, so served them warm with honey and a dollop of cream.


  1. Beautiful buns!!I completely agree with you...this day is just not limited to boy/girlfriends. Sharing our love to the needy,the deprived and also the forgiving others who have had a harsh corner in our hearts is what this day needs to call for. I believe, the reason behind celebrating Sankranti again is the same..tilgul ghya god bola...june purane vair visrun ja:) Happy Valentines day to you all!!


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