One recipe makes approximately 32 rolls, though they can be made smaller or larger to match your preferences. The dough used for these rolls can also be used to make a variety of filled buns.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
For this recipe you will need:
6 cups flour
300 mL warm water
300 mL milk
6 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
If you prefer not to use milk, you can substitute it for water or a non-dairy milk would probably work fine as well.
Pictured above are my ingredients with the flour in the centre, and moving from left to right: baking powder, instant yeast, sugar, oil (I used vegetable), milk & water, and salt.
Step 2: Mix & Knead Dough
The next step is to mix all of your ingredients together. I used a bread mixer (picture on left), but you can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook, or mix the ingredients by hand. Once mixed, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. If your dough is very sticky, you may need to add flour to your working surface in order to dry it out a bit. Vice versa, if it is too dry, wet your hands with water and continue to knead the dough, re-wetting your hands occasionally. You will know it's ready when it passes the window test.
To perform a window test, take a small piece of dough, no larger than a golf ball and stretch it out. If you can hold it in front of a window and see the light through it without the dough ripping, it's done (picture on right).
Step 3: Let It Rest
Once your dough is ready, it's time to let it rest. Place it on a floured or oiled surface to prevent sticking and cover with a cloth or a bowl. If using a bowl, oil the inside so that the risen dough cannot stick. Let the dough rest for 1 hour. It should double in size, approximately. After 1 hour, punch the dough down, then let rest another 10 minutes.
Step 4: Form Your Rolls
Once the dough has risen, it's time to form the rolls. Portion the dough into 32 pieces. You can shape the rolls however you like.
The simplest way to shape the rolls is to roll the dough into a log when portioning and cut it into chunks. This will create semi-rounded rolls.
You can also roll the pieces into spheres, or if you're more creative you may wish to create fun shapes or patterns in your rolls.
I experimented with a few different options, as shown above. Some of the tools I used included an Asian-style rolling pin (regular rolling pins work fine as well), a chopstick, and a bench scraper.
Once the rolls are formed, place them on a floured surface (to prevent sticking). I used a baking tray so that I could easily transport them across the kitchen. Cover with a cloth or saran wrap to prevent the tops from drying out, and let sit for 10 minutes before cooking.
Step 5: Cook the Rolls
There are two ways to cook the rolls. You can either steam fry them, or steam them.
I used the steam fry method. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add oil. When pan is hot, place the rolls inside. They do expand, so make sure you leave almost an inch between them, otherwise they may stick together.
Once the bottoms are lightly browned, add water to the pan until the water goes approximately 1/2 inch up the side of the pan. Put a lid on the pan and let the rolls steam for 9 minutes.
After the 9 minutes are up, remove the lid from the pan, and boil off any excess water. You can also continue to brown the bottoms of the rolls until they are a darker golden brown.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Once cooked, the rolls are ready to eat! Enjoy them as they are, or with whatever sauce goes with your meal.