Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃 (May 2013)

Looking for the best chinese steamed bun recipe? Here is the Roundup for Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃 (May 2013).

And if you are into steaming cakes, don't forget to browse through the Roundup for Aspiring Bakers #25 - Steaming Hot Cakes (Oct 2012).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lao Por Bing / Taiwan Sun Biscuit / Phong Piah (老婆饼 / 太阳饼 / 碰饼)

最近倒霉的事一箩筐。我本来想清除掉上次从新加坡带回来的冬瓜糖,是特地买来做老婆饼用的。为了省时间,明明食谱说明得先准备好全部馅料才做饼皮的,我却没有按部就班,结果出了乱子。我先用镬炒好糕粉,再炒香白芝麻,然后做了水皮和油皮放进冰箱,接着再回来继续做馅料。正当我打开冬瓜糖准备和白芝麻一起拿去绞碎的那刹那,晴天霹雳,赫然发现冬瓜糖竟然发霉,我的天啊,有没有搞错,怎么这么倒霉? 水皮和油皮都做好了,感觉质地很好很容易包馅料,扔掉了很可惜。伤心之余, 马上振作,刚好我印的食谱的另一面是太阳饼的做法,事不宜迟,马上换做太阳饼的馅料。这就是我的老婆饼怎么会变成太阳饼整件事情的由来,听起来有一点不可思议,但确实如此。从大概去年九月开始,我就已经在部落格上碎碎念,不管是做蛋糕还是做面包很多都差点拿去喂鸡。希望来临的马年做什么事都能够顺顺利利,不要再出乱子了,不然我就要洗手不干了。:)

For those who do not understand Chinese, basically I had the intention to make Lao Por Bing or Wife Biscuit in order to get rid of my winter melon candies brought from Singapore, but I ended up making Tai Yang Bing or Taiwanese Sun Biscuit instead. All because I did not check the freshness of all my ingredients beforehand. I was a smart-aleck who did not follow the recipe instructions which stated clearly that the fillings should be first prepared before making the 2 doughs. If I had done so, I would surely have noticed the deplorable state of one of my key ingredients. I first started by frying the glutinous rice flour to make koh fun (糕粉) and toasting the white sesame seeds, then I proceeded to make my water dough and oil dough so that they could chill in the fridge in the mean while. Just as I was about to open the pack of winter melon candies and throw them into the food processor together with the sesame seeds for grinding, I realised to my utmost horror that my winter melon candies have all gone bad. OMG, I saw greenish spots, they have all turned mouldy!!! 

Alamak, what to do? Throwing the water dough and oil dough away would be such a waste as the texture of both doughs were pretty good and looked easy enough to wrap up the filling. What's more, all my efforts would have gone down the drain and I would have to buy a new can of Crisco shortening the next time. Luckily the recipe for the Tai Yang Bing / Sun Biscuit was printed at the back of the Lao Por Bing / Wife Biscuit recipe, so I decided to keep both doughs and make a new filling instead. That way, I wouldn't have to start all over again. That was how my Lao Por Ping ended up becoming Tai Yang Bing. A pretty bizarre story. :)

As time was running late again, and I had to pick up my 2 energizer bunnies, I covered the 2 doughs and the filling individually with clingwrap and chilled them in the fridge. It was only 6 hours later at 9pm (after cooking, bathing, feeding my 2yo and 4yo and putting them to sleep), that I could return to what I had done half way. By the time my pastries came out from the oven, it was nearly 11pm! What a long, tiring but fruitful day, just for 10 pastries! 

Despite the hiccups along the way, the effort was well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making these traditional chinese pastries. Actually, this is nothing new to me, I have already tried my hands once at making baked siew bao which also involved using water dough, oil dough and layered flaky pastry. But it was good to refresh my pastry techniques again. :)

Filling recipe adapted from Florence of Do What I Like

Taiwanese Sun Pastry Filling 台湾太阳饼馅料
80g icing sugar, sifted
20g maltose, about 2 rounded tsp
0.5 tsp boiling water
20g butter at room temp, diced into small cubes
30g cake flour, sifted

A) Method for Filling
- Dilute maltose with 0.5 tsp boiling water. Add the maltose to icing sugar in a big mixing bowl and mix well. Add in the diced butter and sifted flour and knead briefly until a smooth dough is formed. Do not over-knead (I found the dough dry initially as I must have added not enough maltose, so I added a few more drops of boiling water. The addition of a little boiling water will make the maltose softer so that it is easier to knead using your hands and make the dough come together into a ball. Note that it is not required to wrap and chill the filling in the fridge but I chose to do so as I was away for 6 hours. This filling became very hard after chilling due to the presence of maltose and icing sugar and had to be thawed at room temp slightly longer than the other 2.) 

- Divide the filling into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 10 portions of 15g each but my filling was only 117g so I divided into 10 portions of 11g each.) 

Chinese Flaky Pastry recipe adapted from Corner Cafe

Water Dough (水皮)
70g bread flour, sifted
70g plain flour, sifted
25g caster sugar
55g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)
70ml water, adjust if necessary 

Oil Dough (油皮)
70g cake flour
35g lard or shortening, diced into small cubes (I used Crisco shortening)

Egg Wash
1 egg + 1 tsp water, lightly beaten

Method for Chinese Flaky Pastry
B) Water Dough (水皮) 
- Put bread flour, plain flour, sugar and shortening in a big mixing bowl and mix briefly. Slowly add water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap it in plastic clingwrap and chill in the fridge for at least 20 min. (I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the flour mixture before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method, the texture should resemble bread crumbs before adding in water. I added exactly 70 ml water. After adding water, briefly knead using your hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. This water dough was a little sticky so you should definitely chill it in the fridge for it to harden.)

- Divide the water dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 288g water dough into 10 portions of 28g each.)

C) Oil Dough (油皮)
In a big mixing bowl, rub the shortening into the cake flour briefly and knead into a smooth soft dough. It is important that the malleability of the oil dough is about the same as the water dough in order to make chinese flaky pastry, according to Corner Cafe. (Again, I first used spatula to cut the shortening into the cake flour before using my hands to do the rubbing-in method so that it resembled bread crumbs, then I briefly kneaded using my hands and made the dough come together to form a smooth ball. Do not over-knead. I found the oil dough not sticky at all and quite pliable. It was definitely less sticky than the water dough. On hindsight, I found it was not really necessary to chill the oil dough in the fridge, but since I was away for 6 hours, I didn't want to take chances.)

- Divide the oil dough into 10 equal portions. (The recipe stated 14 equal portions, but I divided the 102g water dough into 10 portions of 10g each.)

Pls refer to my step-by-step picture collages for the method of Huai Yang Pastry (Visible Layering - Spiral Shaping 圆酥). This is a technique which I learnt from Corner Cafe's blog. Sorry for the mind-boggling background of my 2-dollar daiso rolling mat, I did these late at night and the lighting was pretty bad in the kitchen. If you prefer a clearer image, you can refer to this collage from my baked siew bao recipe for steps 1 to 9.
  • Step 1 - On a slightly floured work surface (floured with plain flour), flatten the water dough into a circle and put the oil dough on top. 
  • Step 2 - Wrap the water dough around the oil dough, pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball.
  • Step 3 - Using a slightly floured rolling pin, roll out the ball of dough into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 4 - Roll it up like a swiss roll.
  • Step 5 - Turn it 90 degrees.
  • Step 6 - Again, using the rolling pin, flatten and roll it out into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 7 - Roll it up like a swiss roll again.
  • Step 8 - Turn the rolled dough so that it is now standing with the rolled side facing up.
  • Step 9 - Flatten it with your palm so that it now looks like the shell of a snail. 

  • Step 10 - Using the rolling pin, roll it out into a circle big enough to encase the filling.
  • Step 11 - Place the filling in the centre.
  • Step 12 - Wrap the dough around the filling.
  • Step 13 - Pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball. Turn it upside down so that the sealed edges are facing down
  • Step 14 - Using the rolling pin or using your palm, flatten and roll out into a circular disc of about 7 cm. (original recipe stated 9 to 10 cm)
  • Step 15 - Use a fork to prick some holes on the pastry, to avoid the filling from oozing out during baking. Be careful not to poke right through the bottom layer of pastry.
  • Step 16 - Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, apply a layer of egg wash and put in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 25 min or till golden brown.

Note: If you follow Corner Cafe's method of making Lao Por Bing/Wife Biscuit, you will notice that he did not turn the dough with the rolled side facing up unlike what I did at step 8. Instead he went straight from step 7 to step 10, which is the approach for hidden layering (暗酥) required for making Lao Por Bing. But since I was using Tai Yang Bing/Sun Biscuit filling, I had to follow Florence's recipe which used the visible spiral shaping. The spiral shaping (圆酥) is what you commonly see in the making of shanghainese mooncakes or spiral curry puffs. But the effect of my spiral pastry was not 3D and not so obvious, I thought.

Doesn't it look like Phong Piah (碰饼) with the puffed up shape and hollow middle layer? One of my friends said it was a Wife Biscuit disguised as a Phong Piah. Actually to be honest, they do taste like Phong Piah! I hardly get to eat Taiwanese Sun Biscuit, only once in a blue moon when my sis brings some back from business trip in TW, so I can't really remember how they taste like. 

These chinese traditional pastries do keep well for at least a week (or even longer) if you keep them in an airtight container. They were not oily at all, not like some of the tar sar piah pastries we buy from shops where you have to finish within a day or two. I made them on Wednesday and the last piece was finished the following Tuesday. When you eat one piping hot from the oven, you can taste the molten-lava-like filling oozing out from the flaky pastry. But once they are cooled down, the layered flaky pastry managed to maintain its hard shape and crunchiness even after a few days. They are flaky, and yet hard and crunchy. All I can say is, this is a keeper recipe, try it and you will know !


PS: I am looking for a good recipe for the filling for the Singapore type of Tau Sar Piah (sweet or salty version), not the Malaysian type. I am also looking for a black sesame filling for black sesame biscuit. If anybody knows of such a recipe and is willing to share, pls pm me. Thank you!


I am linking this post to Bake-Along: Chinese New Year Cookies, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.


  1. Lovely pastries! I love using oil and water pastry, makes a very good flaky pastry for both sweet and savoury filling. Yum!

    1. Yes indeed, this recipe of water and oil dough produces flaky pastry that is not oily and keeps very well, suitable for both sweet and savoury filling. :)

  2. i hv several incidents about mouldy items ..but i was a bit luckier than you that i have not started doing anything yet as was just preparing the ingredients..cheese being most common. i am not aware of these sun biscuits and i also think it looks quite a bit like pong piah..your collage is fine, i can understand the steps..Making chinese pastry does involve a bit of work but if we do it well, the results is always very satisfactory and i am sure like what you said, these biscuits are very tasty. Thx so much again for linking with us.

    1. Yah, as i said, I forgot how sun biscuits taste like and this definitely tastes like phong piah, hahaha. Saves me from searching for phong piah recipe. :)

  3. Miss B...well i guess e "mouldy" incidents happened to everyone...includin expiration too?? Kekeke...
    I must say all your 餅 looks fantastic... i think making these 餅 needs alot of skill n patient and you made them all...thumbs up:-D

    1. It's time-consuming, but not difficult at all, the doughs are quite easy to handle. Do try it :)

  4. Hi Miss B,

    Glad that your Taiwan Sun biscuits (aka plan B) works perfectly! I have been "struggling" to make puffy pastry with water dough and oil dough lately. Thanks for your step-by-step pictorial instructions! My son and I are learning a lot staring at your pictures!


  5. My mom is currently in Taiwan visiting relatives. She goes home every 2 years and one of the things she brings back for me are sun cakes or sun biscuits. They are one of my favorites but this year I move to Belgium before she gets back. Literally the last few weeks I have been in Seattle I have been eating all of my favorite Asian foods before the move. :)

  6. Hi, can I replace maltose with honey? Thanks

    1. Pls give yourself a name, before I answer your question. Thks.

    2. Ymkoay. Thanks

    3. Hi Ymkoay,
      I'm not sure, but I doubt so. Maltose is sticky and will harden, that's why the filling is sticky and hardened inside, but honey is more fluid and may or may not harden. If you can't get maltose, maybe you should try the real lao po bing filling under corner cafe's recipe.


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