14 April 2011

Jiaozi Dough Notes 1

Why bother making jiaozi wrappers from scratch, I ask rhetorically?

- They taste better.
- They have better texture.
- Made from scratch wrappers are more supple and moist so you don't have to mess around with 'gluing' the edges of your dumplings if you use store bought. Just crimp and go.
- No worries about preservatives and additives if that sort of stuff bothers you.
- You have more control over your food.
- Encourages pride and discipline in your cooking and life.
- It's meditative and calming.

Here are the approximate dough formulas, in baker's percentages, I've been working with*:
100 AP Flour 55 Water
100 AP Flour 40 Rice Flour 80 Water

This mixture uses the cold water method. Just mix the flours and then mix in the water. Gather together into a ball, knead for about 5 minutes, lest rest for at least 15 min. The dough can easily be made the day before with great results. These are supposed to be stiff doughs, like bagel dough, to enable it to stand up to boiling. Resist the temptation to add extra water, unless absolutely necessary, and even then a little at a time, working in each addition thoroughly. Please remember that once you let the dough rest, it will get wetter and smoother.

I've been portioning approx 1/2 to 2/3 oz of dough depending on the batch I'm making. Aim for a thickness of 1/16" at the rim, and 1/8" at the thickest part of the middle. Thin rims are important because the thickness multiplies when you crimp the wrapper, and if your edges are too thick, you will have to either face unevenly cooked dough, deformed and ugly dumplings because you had to press the crimps too much to thin them out.

I portion the dough balls all at once. Then I roll the wrappers out at about 10 at a time then stuff. Do not roll the wrappers out too far in advance of stuffing, especially if you are going to stack them. They will stick together under their own weight given enough time, unless you flour them well, which compromises the whole point of making them from scratch in the first place.

Keep some damp towels handy to cover your dough and finished dumplings.

Coming up: A switch to bread flour, and experiments with hot water dough as I plan my assault on Xao Long Bao.

* Confession time. I've been working without a scale since I lost it in my last move. I know, I know, I'm a bad cook. Have no fear, I just ordered one, and I will be able to nail down the formulas further.

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