The evolution, which is still ongoing, of this recipe travels the globe. It started out as a Kenyan recipe for a sweetened, yeast-risen rice pancake tinged with cardamom. We were enjoying that for a while. Then one day, I ran out of rice flour and threw in a bunch of glutinous rice flour. Chewier and nicer — toddler smiles all around. The next day, I adjusted some of the dry ingredients and along the way, accidentally left out the cardamom. The result? Something definitely Chinese in texture and flavor and even bigger toddler smiles.
DH and I figured out the flavor was very bao-like (i.e. similar to the bread flavor and, oddly enough, somewhat similar to the mouth-feel of a bao, a steamed (or sometimes baked), slightly sweetened, yeast-risen bun of Chinese origin that’s often filled with barbecue pork, chicken, veggies, red bean paste, or some other kind of filling. So as the “beng” (or “bing” in Mandarin — “beng” being Cantonese) in the name indicates, this is a round, flat pancake-like shape that somehow captures the bao flavor. Go figure.
And for those who want to know, “de,” in addition to aiding my reference to pop culture, is a reference to a particle of speech in Mandarin (a version is also used in written Cantonese) that indicates possession. It’s added after the noun doing the possessing. So “bao de bing” means bao’s bing (or bao’s beng), which just means the bun’s pancake/cookie/flatbread — which is exactly what this is! 🙂
- 1 packet or 1 T of yeast plus 1/4 c warm water plus pinch sugar
- 2 c glutinous rice flour
- 1 c rice flour
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/4 c corn starch (substitute arrowroot starch if corn-allergic)
- pinch salt
- 1/4 coconut cream/milk (substitute other milk, e.g. unsweetened soy milk, if coconut-allergic)
- warm water
In a small bowl, combine yeast, pinch of sugar, and 1/4 c water. Set aside. It should begin to bubble in 10 minutes or so; wait till it almost doubles in bulk, which takes several minutes. If it doesn’t, discard and repeat with new yeast, sugar, water.
In large bowl, add remaining dry ingredients and mix. Add yeast mixture, coconut cream/milk and mix. Add enough water to make batter very thin (thinner than pancake batter). Cover loosely and let rise in a warm, non-drafty area till about double in bulk, or about an hour. Do not over-rise.
Heat a heavy, skillet over medium low. Lightly film with oil using a pastry brush. Pour 1/8 c to 1/4 c batter, depending on how large you want your pancake beng. When bubbles appear (takes less than a minute), flip and cook on other side till done. Aim for a pale color, like a crepe, though some slight light golden marks are OK, too. Do not overcook or else results will be slightly bitter. Lightly film pan with oil using pastry brush and repeat till all batter is cooked.
Not sure, as toddler (and cook) kept eating them as they were coming off the skillet (which also explains why there are no photos. We ate them all!) Enough to feed about 4 people as a snack, I suppose.
- Cooking longer at a low temperature (but not too long, as beng will burn and turn bitter) can result in a crispy edge, which provides a nice contrast to the soft, chewy interior and brings the sweetness of the batter into sharper focus. Of course, this would not be a crepe in the classic sense, but it’s fun to eat, nevertheless.
- My eventual goal is to turn this into a crepe, but I still have to locate some key ingredients and an 8″-inch cast iron pan to do that. I was able to cook a decent crepe w/this batter as-is, and visually and texturally, the crepes really do resemble French wheat/egg/milk-based crepes. But the flavor is definitely Chinese. Made as crepes, these wrappers would do nicely w/Asian-style fillings, such as a hom sui gok filling, barbecue pork, or some other sweet-savory filling. For that, I’d probably reduce the sugar slightly. If we’re talking about a more delicately-flavored, savory filling, say something with shrimp or fish, I’d reduce sugar even more (maybe 1/4 c to 1/3 c), maybe add two pinches of salt.