8 Tips for the Best Shao-Bing
Shaobing (烧饼) comes in many forms: flat, round, sweet, savoury, filled, unfilled, sprinkled with sesame... The possibilities are almost endless. But what is shaobing? And what should you do if you want to make it at home?
Shaobing is a type of northern Chinese bread that is now popular all over Asia. Because there are so many variations, there is no single, authentic recipe, but shaobing is made of layers of pastry, with a crunchy exterior and a chewy middle. The dough can be yeast-leavened, and is flavoured with sesame. Traditional shaobing is baked in clay ovens, but you can use a regular oven (some recipes can even be pan-fried).
So, you want to make it at home. Great! Here are a few tips on how to nail your home-cooked shaobing:
1) Use warm water for the dough.
If your recipe requires yeast, you'll need to use warm water to activate it and allow the dough to rise. Don't use boiling water, though: this will kill the yeast. Some recipes without yeast also call for hot water - this is to create a softer, more tender texture.
2) Let the dough rest before working.
Leaving the dough for 15-30 minutes makes it easier to roll out later. This is because, on a molecular level, there's some fascinating chemistry going on. Kneading the dough creates gluten, which strengthens the dough and makes it elastic. Letting the dough rest is vital - it allows the gluten to relax and form long-chain proteins. It also means the dough is softer and easier to shape.
3) Pre-heat the oven.
It's a classic baking mistake - in all your eagerness to taste your baked goods, you're too impatient to wait for the oven to warm up properly... We've all been there - and suffered the consequences of sunken cakes. Don't be that person.
4) Make the layers.
Shaobing wouldn't be the same without layers. Roll the sheet of dough up with the oil on the inside (like a carpet, or a sushi roll), slice into several pieces, then fold the sliced edges up and over for each piece, using your fingers to seal them.
5) Don't forget the sesame seeds.
Do it as if you're adding sprinkles to ice cream; the technique is the same.
7) Choose how you'd like to eat it.
Shaobing is tasty on its own but is often eaten with a filling. They can be savoury or sweet (some shaobing are cooked with the filling already in there). In Vietnam, it's commonly paired with youtiao (another pastry-based delicacy) and soy milk for a carb-loaded breakfast.
8) Order it directly to your door.
Here at Hotpot Spot, we've done the hard work for you. Our shaobing is hand-made fresh on the premises, and we have a mouth-watering selection of fillings to go with them. Why wait? Check our opening times and view the menu here: