When I was a little girl, my family would go hiking in the San Gabriel mountains. The dad of one of the families that we would go hiking with was a boy scout troop leader, and he set a precedence for 6 AM starts in an attempt to beat the California sun. This meant waking up around 5:30 while it was still dark out, slapping on some clothes, and fumbling our way to the car. Actually, this was just me. My mom, dad and sister are all morning people and never used to have issues waking up so early on a Saturday!
Whether it was my general laziness for physical activity or my love of sleeping, I really disliked hiking. (Don’t worry, I grew out of my laziness- I hiked the Grand Canyon with my family in middle school, and went on a backpacking trip to Yosemite my senior year of high school!)
Thankfully for my parents, I loved to eat. I think the promise of eating out for breakfast after hiking was the only incentive for me to get out of bed. Our go-to place was a restaurant that served a Taiwanese-style breakfast of soymilk (dou jiang) and other goodies. The restaurant would have big pots of steaming soy milk in the back, ready to be ladled into bowls. We often ordered shao bing, fragrant flaky pastries that were definitely made with lard, and you tiao, yeasted dough that was deep-fried. If that wasn’t enough, there was also shao bing jia you tiao, which was a wrap of the you tiao in the shao bing. Fat and carbs…yum! There was also jiu cai he zi (click for the recipe!) that we would often get, too.
We have since found another breakfast place that we liked better, and with a new restaurant comes new offerings. One of my favorite pastries to get is su bing, which is a flaky pastry with some sort of filling. Some of my favorite fillings include peanut, red bean paste, and black sesame. Where I live in Pennsylvania has zero Taiwanese breakfast places, so my solution is to create those breakfast goodies in my kitchen!
Continue reading for my recipe of black sesame flaky pastry, or hei zhi ma su bing. Leftover filling (should you have any) would be a great add-in to your soy milk. Oh, and if you haven’t already gotten a scale, do your baking self a favor and purchase one.
hei zhi ma su bing
Black Sesame Flaky Pastry
Makes 1 dozen
油皮 (you pi) “oil skin”
100 grams (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) all-purpose flour
33 grams (2 Tbsp + 1 tsp) butter or leaf lard
5 grams (1 tsp) sugar
43 grams (3 Tbsp) water
油酥 (you su) “oil flake”
40 grams (3 Tbsp) butter or leaf lard
80 grams (3/4 cup) cake flour
96 grams (2/3 cup) black sesame seeds, toasted
80 grams (3/8 cup) brown sugar
40 grams (3 Tbsp) oil
Additional sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (about 2 Tbsp for a light coating)
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp water (optional, for egg wash)
1) Mix together flour, butter, and sugar from the you pi ingredients into a bowl until the butter is well-incorporated. Add water, then mix until everything comes together. Mix together you su ingredients in a bowl. Let both these doughs rest for at least 30 minutes, covered. Make the sesame filling by mixing all the ingredients together so they are homogenous.
2) Use a clean coffee bean grinder to grind up the sesame seeds as finely as possible. Add brown sugar and oil to form a somewhat clumpy mixture.
3) Separate each of the you pi and you su doughs into 12 equal portions. The you su portions will be smaller than the you pi.
4) Use your fingers to flatten out a you pi portion into a circle that is just wide enough to wrap a piece of you su so that there are no bits of you su peeking out. Keep the bunched up you pi facing up.
5) Roll the ball/mound out gently into a thin (1/4″) oblong shape. Don’t worry if the doughs rip; just patch up whatever ripped and continue to handle the dough gently.
6) Use the palm and lower halves of your fingers to tightly roll the dough towards you into a little burrito, like you would roll a cinnamon roll or sleeping bag.
7) Rotate the now baton-like piece of rolled up dough 90 degrees. Make sure the seam is face down and roll out again to make a skinny and long piece of dough.
8) Repeat the rolling up of the dough to make a short and squat sleeping bag-looking dough.
9) Lay the sleeping bag dough, seam side down and so the spirals are on the ends, and roll out to a piece of dough about 3-3 1/2 inches in diameter.
10) At this point, the piece of dough facing you is probably swirled with bits of you pi (more white) and yousu (more yellow). You want these swirlies on the inside, and you want the outside dough to look as homogenous as possible. So, flip the dough over so the swirlies are on the inside.
11) Add about one tablespoon of filling to the center of the dough. Use your non-dominant hand to hold the dough and filling, and use your dominant hand to pinch the seams of the dough to completely enclose the filling and make a little round bun. If possible, don’t tug on the skin too much, so that there won’t be a huge mound of dough on the bottom. Pinch all seams tightly to not let any filling leak out.
12) Dip the smooth side of the wrapped dough in water, or brush on some egg wash.
13) Dip the wet dough in sesame seeds, then place on a baking sheet, bunchy side down. Cup the sides of the dough with your hands to try to make the dough as circular and pretty as possible.
14) Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. If after 20 minutes they are not brown yet, turn the pastries over so the bottoms face up.
Picture tutorial of the dough rolling process:
-To make peanut filling, use an equal volume of natural peanut butter instead of the sesame seeds, and don’t add oil. Add some flour to the mixture by the tablespoon, until the mixture is somewhat moldable and doesn’t ooze everywhere.
-To make white sesame filling, use sesame paste (this link contains a picture) and follow the directions for peanut filling. Do not substitute
tahini for white sesame paste in this case. If you happen to have black sesame paste, also refer to the directions for peanut filling.
-To make red bean filling, use an equal volume of sweetened
red bean paste as the black sesame seeds for the filling. Don’t add brown sugar.
-More variations: replace some sesame seeds with ground nuts,