When I was still in Project Food Blog I enjoyed looking ahead to the future challenges and trying to plan what I would do for them, if I managed to make it that far. I thought all the challenges were fun, and when I saw that challenge 8 would be to create a baked good using pumpkin an idea popped into my head immediately. I had my first char siu bao this year and I was immediately hooked. I didn’t consider making them myself, however, until Project Food Blog started and I saw multiple posts in round 2 creating these handheld balls of wonder that the wheels started turning.
We know that I didn’t make it past round 6, but I decided to not let that stop me. The day after Thanksgiving I set to work. With using a pumpkin dough I couldn’t just go with the standard char siu pork filling. I opted for a combination of chard and diced turkey, with a creamy garlic sauce. The best part of using these ingredients is that they’re locally sourced. The turkey of course was our leftover holiday bird, and the cold-weather produce is flourishing in Texas right now.
I need practice properly forming the buns, but the end result tasted exactly how I was hoping. The sweet dough and savory filling made for a lip-smacking combination, and I could barely stop myself from eating up the entire batch.
Even though “pumpkin season” is over, these buns should make their way onto your to-do list. Swap out the pumpkin for sweet potato or butternut squash and use chicken or tofu for the turkey. Rainbow chard is beautiful and adds lots of color, but feel free to use any other leafy green in place of it.
Pumpkin Bao with Turkey, Chard, and Garlic Cream
For the dough
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 cups flour plus more for dusting and kneading
For the filling
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cloves garlic diced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1 tablespoon diced sage
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups diced chard
- 1 cup diced cooked turkey
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoons honey
For the dough
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, then stir in pumpkin and salt. Add flour, and stir together to incorporate. Bring together dough with your hands, and turn out onto a clean surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, adding extra flour a little at a time as needed.
- Place into a greased bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until dough is doubled.
For the filling
- In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Whisk in cornstarch to form a paste, then whisk in milk and cream. Cook until thickened, whisking continually. Stir in sage and add a dash of salt and pepper at the end.
- Add a small amount of oil to a saute pan and saute chard until wilted and bright green. Dump into a large bowl and stir in turkey and garlic sauce.
- Grab a small ball of dough and roll it out on a floured surface. Try to make the edges thinner than the center, as you will pull these up and tuck them under the bun. Add a spoonful of filling to the center of the bun, then gather edges together, twist, and set smooth-side up on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Continue until all buns have been formed.
- Whisk together egg, water, and honey, then brush over the tops of the buns.
- Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
* If you have leftover dough, it makes a wonderful loaf for morning toast.
For more poultry inspiration, check out my Chicken board on Pinterest!