chapali kebab buns
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Baking Along with the Great British Bake-Off – Japanese Week

This week’s episode of The Great British Bake-Off was a new theme: Japanese baking. For the signature bake, contestants had to make Japanese steamed buns called nikuman, with their own take on fillings. Some went with Japanese flavours like chicken katsu, some went Indian and two made cheeseburger buns. For the technical challenge, they had to make a matcha crepe cake that was filled with white chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream and strawberries. Last, for the showstopper they had to do a kawaii (cute) cake using Japanese influenced flavours. Many of the cakes had that cute Japanese cartoon character look to them.

I decided to do only the steamed bun challenge this week. I’ve never made them before and felt I could get creative with my filling for these. Since I was also planning a Halloween cake for this weekend, I decided not to do either the crepe cake or the kawaii cake.

My first instinct for my steamed bun filling was to use either ground beef or ground pork and add either Asian or Indian flavours. I started by looking through the New York Times cooking app for ideas and found a recipe for Chapali Burgers, based on a Pakistani kebab, that looked like the exact flavour profile I had in mind. This recipe used dried pomegranate seeds, which I don’t have access to, but after a quick internet search, I found I could substitute sumac powder, which I happened to have on hand. For those that don’t have either, you can also substitute lemon zest.

I used Lottie’s Cheeseburger Steamed Buns as a basic guideline for the dough and how much filling I would need and the above-mentioned New York Times recipe as a guideline for the filling ingredients and a yogurt sauce to serve with it.

Overall, the buns weren’t hard to make, except in trying to achieve the pleated folds. I watched a YouTube video on how to do the folds that made it look easy, but I wasn’t able to achieve the look and they came out looking a bit like a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas! I guess that was fitting for this weekend, since it was Halloween, lol. It did take longer than the 1 hour and 45 minutes that the recipe on the Great British Bake-Off website stated. From start to finish, it took me 3 hours, which was mostly getting the dough proofed, and 45 minutes for cooking. Since I didn’t have a stackable bamboo steamer basket, I had to steam the buns in batches.

I really enjoyed the flavour of these buns. They reminded me a lot of koftas, which I make in the summer and are a family favourite. The dough had the texture of pizza dough and wasn’t at all wet as I was worried they might be. They also reheated nicely in the toaster oven the next day for lunch. I would definitely make these again, which is why I’m sharing the recipe. I also need to practice those folds!

chapali kebab buns
Yields: 8 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 2 Hr 15 Mins Cook Time: 45 Mins Total Time: 3 Hr

Steamed Buns with Chapali Kebab Filling

Inspired by Japanese week of the 2020 Great British Bake Off, this twist on the Japanese Nikuman bun contains a beef filling that is inspired by the richly spiced Pakistani Chapali Kebab. Adapted from The Great British Bake Off and The New York Times.

Ingredients

0/25 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the Dough
  • For the Filling
  • For the Herbed Yoghurt

Instructions

0/11 Instructions
    For the Dough
  • Place the flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, oil and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
  • Mix on slow speed, gradually adding the water to make a soft, smooth dough.
  • Continue to mix until gluten has developed, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, knead by hand for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and gluten is developed.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
  • While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Place the first 10 filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Form into 8 equal portions and form into 5 cm/2 inch patties. Cover and chill until needed.
  • Mix together ketchup and tamarind paste in a small bowl. Cover and chill until needed.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Using your hands, roll out the dough into a log and divide it into 8 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, lightly dust with flour and place each onto a square of parchment paper. Cover the dough balls with oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 10-15 minutes, until puffy.
  • Using your hands, press dough into a round that is roughly 4 inches/10.5 cm in diameter and thicker in the centre. Place one patty in the centre of the round and topped with a bit of jalapeno and 1 tsp of the tamarind ketchup. To close the bun, form pleats with the edge of the dough until the filling is encased then twist to close the top.
  • Repeat for the remaining 7 balls of dough. Cover plastic wrap and leave the filled buns to prove for a further 15 minutes.
  • Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom saucepan fitted with a stainless steel insert. Place 3 buns at a time in the steamer insert on their squares of parchment paper. Cook for 15-17 minutes until the bun feels firm, liked cooked pizza crust. Keep warm while you cook the remaining buns, in two more batches. Be sure to check the level of the water in between batches and refill as necessary. Serve immediately when all buns are cooked. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge and reheated in the toaster oven as needed.
  • While the buns cook, stir together the yogurt, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and salt in a small bowl. Serve with the buns.

3 Comments

  1. We literally just watched this episode! We were very fascinated by the steamed buns, which we’ve never made before, so thank you for sharing the recipe. We’ll substitute the beef with tofu and give them a try!

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