Sunday, March 13, 2011


Mari Lou and I made a pact. If I turn up early an hour early for work, keen to cook, she'd teach me how to make steamed buns for our lunch. Without hesitation, I greedily agreed and hauled myself out of bed the next morning, elbows greased, ready for a knead.

And Boy! was it worth it and Oh! what a lunch we had. Gorgeous little steamy parcels stuffed with sweetly spiced onions, soft roasted squash and salty feta, with Clara's beautiful green lentil salad on the side. Slicing into a dumpling with its gentle puff of air and sinking teeth slowly into the dough with its soft texture and springy bite was nothing other than Faint.


makes 10-12 medium sized dumplings

The dough:
750g self raising flour
300ml warm water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 sachet Easy dry yeast
Pinch salt

The filling:
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2cm x 2cm cubes

10 white onions
2 tbsp sweet chilli
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp Kikkomam soy sauce

200g feta, crumbled

Mix the dry ingredients with the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Fold in the wet ingredients and delicately mix the ingredients with your fingers. When the dough is fully combined, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding flour to prevent it sticking to the table and your hands.

Cover, and leave to rise for almost 2 hours in a warm, draught-free spot (on top of a cooling oven or in the airing cupboard) so the dough has doubled in size. Then, knock the air out, pulling the dough gently so the gluten becomes active. The dough should be soft and spring back when you press it. If not, knead a little more, and leave to rise, covered, for another hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Place the butternut squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 25 minutes until soft. Set aside

Soften the onions in a pan with a large knob of butter. Add the sweet chilli, oyster sauce and soy and reduce down for about 10 minutes so the onions have caramelised. Set aside.

When the dough is ready, cut off equal sized pieces with a sharp knife. Roll out into circles on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Place approx. 2 tbsp of the squash, onions and feta into the centre, and fold the edges round it like a little handkerchief bundle. To seal the corners dab a little bit of water and twist together so there are no gaps. Leave the buns to rise for 30-45 minutes in a bamboo steamer, off the heat.

Heat a pan of enough water so that, when placing the steamer on top, the water does not touch it. Bring the water to the boil and steam the buns for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve. They will be very hot inside so, after slicing, leave a few seconds to cool before sinking your teeth in. The dough should be white, soft and moist and the filling hot, salty and sweet.

Truly dumpling-scrumptious and always room for another. Thank you Mari Lou, you genius you.


  1. Oh hello... naughty to read this before dinner. Are they filipeno as tagged? x

  2. Mari Lou is from the Philippines, but I think they may be of Chinese origin... x

  3. Oh gosh, that looks simply *fabulous*. Next time I want a snack and I've had enough of bananas and papayas I'm going to snack on one of those.

  4. These look so good. Two of my favourite things - dumplings and butternut squash.