These delicately flavored steamed buns are so named because they are shaped like snails. They are often deep-fried until golden brown after having been steamed. Either way, snail buns are excellent as a subsitute for rice. This recipe defers slightly from 'Flower Buns' and has less ingredients and the texture is just as soft.
Basic Yeast Dough:
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp instant yeast
6 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp shortening
2 tsp double action baking powder plus 1 tsp water
1 recipe of basic yeast dough
1/4 cup melted lard plus 1/4 cup melted butter plus 1/2 cup sugar(creamed to a paste)
1/4 cup minced cooked ham or grated carrot and /or chopped spring onions
Basic Yeast Dough :
Mix all the ingredients except the baking powder, to a rough dough, turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 - 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.(if it is very sticky, knead in 1/4 cup additional flour - the dough should be soft)
Lightly grease a bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Turn it so that all sides of the dough are coated.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for 4 hours in a warm area, free from drafts.
Uncover the dough, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Flatten the dough and make a well in the center. Place the baking powder solution in the well and gather up the edges around the baking powder to enclose it. Pinch the edges to seal.
Lightly knead the dough to incorporate the baking powder evenly.
The dough should be used immediately. If that is not possible, punch down the dough after the 4 hours rise, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed.
Prepare the basic yeast dough as directed and cut it in half.
On a lightly surface, roll out each half to form a rectangle approximately 10 by 14 inches and 1/6 inch thick. Spread the surface of one rectangle with half the lard, butter and sugar mixture. Starting with one of the long exges, roll up the rectangle jelly-roll-style. Pinch the two ends to seal the dough; lightly flatten the roll with the heel of your hand. Cut the roll crosswise into thin shreds. Separate the shreds into 15 groups, and let them rest.
Repeat the process for the other rectangle.
Gather up each group of shreds, and lightly stretch, wrapping them Maypole-style around your index finger and thumb. Tuck the end underneath to secure.
Repeat the procedure for all the shreds and arrange the shaped buns 1 inch apart on several steamer trays that have been lined with wet cheesecloth or with parchment paper punched with holes.
Sprinkle the tops with the minced ham or grated carrot and/or chopped spring onions, and let the buns rise for 15 minutes, covered.
Fill a wok with water level with the bottom edge of a steamer tray and heat until boiling. Place one tray of buns over the boiling water, cover, and steam for 15 minutes over high heat. Remove, and steam the remaining buns in the same manner.
To reheat, steam the buns for 5 minutes over high heat.