I honestly have no great idea where to place this category (or if it even really belongs to this blurb), as most traditional style pastries tend to be steamed. However, a lot of the Chinese bakeries (typically Hong Kong/Taiwanese-style) are really an amalgam of Chinese goods and American/European style baking styles (and in the Bay Area even further additions of cultural mixing).
An interesting thing to note is that for some bakeries, a lot of the baked breads use a baking technique called Tangzhong/Water Roux starter. With this technique, the water roux is able to hold more gas during fermentation and keep more moisture in the bread while reducing the hardness, gumminess, and chewiness of the bread. Compared to bread baked without this technique there is no significant difference in cohesiveness and springiness. We also see this technique in Japanese and Korean bakeries in the bay area as well in things like Hokkaido Milk Bread.
Some common steamed buns (note, a lot of steamed buns are probably found in the take home dim sum places than at the bakery):
- Mantou: Pretty much the basic fluffy steamed bread made of wheat. Typically the mantou are steamed with bleached white flour, but there are whole wheat variants available as well.
- BBQ pork buns: Steamed bun with bbq pork fillings that appear to have a craggly mountainish appearance.
- Big bun: A rather large steamed bun filled with pork, eggs, and other ingredients such as shitake mushrooms.
- Custard buns: Usually a round bun filled with sweet yellow custard.
Some baked goodies:
- Pineapple bun: This baked bun does not contain any pineapple fruit, rather the cookie crust on top appears like the pineapple rind. At a few bakeries or Hong Kong style cafes, the pineapple bun can be served with an icy block of butter is added to a hot bun giving it a great texture (crackly top, soft warm bun, and buttery notes) and probably even more distress to your doctor…
- Baked bbq pork buns: These are the baked variant of the steamed bbq pork buns. They look like a brown dinner roll-like exterior with the same bbq pork interior. There are some baked bbq pork buns with a crispy top akin to a pineapple bun/melon pan.
- Cocktail/Coconut bun: The cocktail bun is an elongated oval bun with a coconut based filling.
- Mooncakes: Most traditional mooncakes have a thick, tender pastry skin with a sweet, dense filling. The filling may consist of lotus paste, red bean paste, or other variants. Salted egg yolks may be present as well, as the yolk appears as the symbol of the full moon. These pastries are commonly found during the Mid-Autumn festival but can appear year round.
- Egg tart: This egg custard tart is likely influenced by both the British and Portuguese baking traditions. The tart has two types of outer crust: a cookie/short crust or the flakey, puff pastry crust. The smooth custard filling in the middle is quite eggy. A variant from Macau is the Portuguese tart/pastel de nata that has a carmelized custard in the center.
Where to eat?
- [SF Chinatown] Golden Gate Bakery
- Wa Li Bakery now Little Swan Bakery -- SoCal Export? [San Francisco Chinatown]
- Good Mong Kok Bakery
- Eastern Bakery
- AA Bakery & Cafe
- Wing Lee Bakery
- Cherry Blossom Bakery (Multiple locations)
- Pineapple King Bakery
- Mr. Bread
- Fancy Wheat Field Bakery (Multiple locations)
- Yummy Bakery and Cafe
- Garden Bakery
- Cafe Bakery and Restaurant
- Napoleon Bakery
- Wonder Food Bakery
Other HO Discussions :
Check out all the other topics on the regional Cantonese cuisine