Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

I was browsing various Asian cooking blogs and this seems to be the latest craze among Asian home bakers. Basically, the idea is to heat 1 part flour and 5 parts water (by weight) in a saucepan until the temperature reaches 65C (149F), and then mix the resulting "water roux" into a standard bread dough recipe.

I just tried it and was very impressed with the results. All I did was blend some water roux in with a standard recipe for rolls and the resulting buns were a dead ringer for the soft crust style buns from Chinese bakeries. Normally when I make things like homemade baked char siu bao the crusts would be drier and tougher than the ones you'd buy. But not then buns made using this method. Instead they are soft and pliable.

Has anyone else tried this?

Edited by sheetz (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

hi sheetz,

yes, i've tried this a couple of times, both in rolls and in breads. i think the hot water - flour mix was referred to as a "mash" or just "scalded flour", but the idea was to pre-gelatinize part of of the flour. i made some delicious whole-wheat and oatmeal rolls with this technique, and the mash definitely adds a soft, moist texture to breads and rolls. i've read it was pretty common in european (esp. northern european) baking as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This doesn't seem all that different from an Italian (Tuscan? I can't remember) technique where you pour boiling water over the flour, wait for that to cool down, and then add the yeast plus maybe some more flour. Or, for that matter, it's not all that different from using water leftover from boiling potatoes as the liquid.


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's not all that different from using water leftover from boiling potatoes as the liquid.

That's what I was reminded of too, using boiled potato water.

There's a recipe in Judith Olney on Bread (p. 72, ISBN 978-0517558997) for Swiss Potato Rolls that works great. Friends from Alaska order a version of these parbaked direct from Switzerland because they love the texture and flavour so much.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

Link to post
Share on other sites

hi all,

you're right, slkinsey, i think several saltless tuscan breads use part scalded flour. the hot water is probably increasing enzyme activity in the flour, so that more less-complex sugars are freed up. that's probably adding a nice flavour profile to otherwise rather uninteresting breads (well, in my opinion at least).

some of the photos are sadly gone now, but this thread @ dan lepard's forum is interesting reading regarding scalding part of the flour in a recipe.

Edited by hansjoakim (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites


There are many "traditional" Chinese doughs [i am familiar with the Cantonese] that use boiling water poured over flour. There are even steamed breads etc. that employ layering "hot water" dough and "cold water" doughs for textural quality.

1. Are these hot water roux breads, then, a modification of the very traditional Chinese techniques?

2. Are the boiling water doughs so popular in the Cantonese styles a borrowing from the Portuguese and thus a European discovery from ancient times, as its widespread use in Europe might suggest? Or is it an independent Chinese innovation? Shortcrust & various types of doughs, even though analogous to European types can be discovered independently in several cultures and there is no need, except that owed to cultural chauvinism, to posit a sole center of origin and subsequent diffusion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1. Are these hot water roux breads, then, a modification of the very traditional Chinese techniques?

According to the cookbook authors the bloggers reference, the 65C technique was developed in Japan. How recently I don't know. I have no idea about the boiling water variations.

2. Are the boiling water doughs so popular in the Cantonese styles a borrowing from the Portuguese and thus a European discovery from ancient times, as its widespread use in Europe might suggest?

While the scalded flour/mash technique seems to be fairly common in Western baking, I get the impression (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that it's used mainly to alter bread flavor (as in rye breads) and not so much texture, whereas with the 65C technique the most important aspect is the resultant bread's light airiness and thin crust.

The breads enjoyed in HK were almost certainly influenced by the Portuguese sweet breads. Are those traditionally made with potatoes?

Edited by sheetz (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

This is why I love eGullet!

I saw this post just the other day and I knew that I had to try it.

I've been trying for years and years (and years!) to get that fluffy, soft bread for baked baos.

The best that I came up with was using a brioche dough recipe, but hated that I was loading up on the fat.

This technique works great and it gives you a nice soft bread without a ton of butter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For anyone who may be interested, the recipe given earlier in this topic can be easily adapted for a stand mixer. Make the roux as described in the recipe and let it cool. Meanwhile add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and let the machine run on lowest speed for a minute or so just to combine the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, roux and water and knead on lowest speed for 6 minutes. Now this is when you'll think you really screwed up :hmmm:. Add the room temperature butter a few cubes at a time. You will likely be horrified as initially the butter seems that it will never combine with the dough. Persevere! Scrape down the bowl a couple of times and knead on lowest speed for 4 more minutes and all will be well. This makes a lovely cool, easily managed dough and soft, fluffy buns.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Fast996
      I have looked for years for a black steel wok with a flat bottom it had to be thick steel to stop it from warping on the induction cooktop 3500W Burner. Well I found it made by the French company Mauviel it is 12.5" diameterwith 3mm thick steel the flat bottom is 4 1/2 inches, although it has a flat inside too it cooks wonderfully. The weight is 5lbs heavy but manageable .The cost is $100 considering there is no alternative it's cheap.Here is my review. I know there are people looking for a good wok for induction so I hope some find this post good information.I do have a JWright cast iron wok that I've used for 5 years and it too is great but it's discontinued. This M Steel Wok is much better. Posted some images of the seasoned wok so you can see it . This is after oven season @500 Degrees.Turning black already non stick .Happy !
      Mauviel M'Steel Black Steel Wok, 11.8", Steel
      If you have any ?? please post i'll do my best to answer.

    • By liuzhou
      I've recently become aware of the existence of this chain of Xi'an restaurants in NewYork. Are there more elsewhere?
      They were recenty referenced in a BBC article about biang biang noodles.
    • By liuzhou
      Following my posting a supermarket bought roast rabbit in the Dinner topic, @Anna N expressed her surprise at my local supermarkets selling such things just like in the west supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. I promised to photograph the pre-cooked food round these parts.

      I can't identify them all, so have fun guessing!


      Chicken x 2






      Chicken feet

      Duck Feet

      Pig's Ear


      Pork Intestine Rolls


      Stewed River Snails

      Stewed Duck Feet (often served with the snails above)




      Beijing  Duck gets its own counter.
      More pre-cooked food to come. Apologies for some bady lit images - I guess the designers didn't figure on nosy foreigners inspecting the goods and disseminating pictures worldwide.
    • By liuzhou
      While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades".
      What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally.
      Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in  traditional Chinese characters,  now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad.
      I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation.
      Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine.
      I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as  pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'.

      So, here we go.

      Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
      This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc.  In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. 
      This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes  known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài; Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens.

      Pickled cabbage.
      In 2016, a purple variety of napa cabbage was bred in Korea and that has been introduced to China as 紫罗兰白菜 (zǐ luó lán bái cài) - literally 'violet cabbage'.

      Purple Napa (Boy Choy)
    • By liuzhou
      Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.

      I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

      For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.
      Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.

      I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.
      1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.

      2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.

      3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.

      4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.
      When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.

      Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.
      Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.
      to be continued
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...