Bao are Chinese steamed buns with a wide variety of fillings, both savoury and sweet. In
Yeah, I know it’s not a cake.
Anyhoo, it's not common to make keke pua’a at home, because they are labour-intensive, and they’re relatively cheap to buy. Plus not many of us have a three tiered bamboo steamer at home.
The usual Samoan filling is a basic mixture of pork, onions, maybe garlic and then seasonings like soy sauce. But you could fill your keke with practically anything, leftover sapasui, curry, beef stew - anything you would eat between two slices of bread.
Whatever you decide to put in your buns, make sure your filling is really well-seasoned, a touch over-seasoned, so that one bite of it has enough flavour to carry the soft but bland bread.
Keke pua’a dough (makes 16)
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
¼ cup (60ml) warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ cup (120ml) warm milk
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup (50g) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3½ cups (437.5g) all purpose flour
Mix the yeast, water and first measure of sugar in a large bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes until it’s frothy.
In the meantime, combine the milk, butter, second lot of sugar, salt and eggs. Add this to the yeast mixture and mix until combined.
Add 3 cups of the flour and gradually mix it together until it forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth, about 10 minutes, working in the remaining ½ cup of flour.
While the dough is rising, cut out 16 4” (10cm) square pieces of waxed paper. Set up your steamer. Get your keke filling to room temperature. Anything else? Yeah, while you’re at it, do the dishes.
When your dough has doubled, punch it down then divide into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll or press into a 4 inch (10cm) circle, dusting with flour if necessary.
Spoon a generous amount of filling into the centre of each circle, being careful not to get liquid on the edges. (Wet edges are hard to seal.)
Pleat the edges together over the filling and close the top by pinching and twisting the dough together.
Place each bun on a piece of waxed paper, pleated side up if you’re proud of your pleats, or pleated side down if you
Alternatively, bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter to keep the surface soft.
Whether baked or steamed, eat immediately, or within a few hours.
And don’t forget to peel away the waxed paper before eating.
No seriously, don’t forget.