Bring steamed buns to life with cute as can be panda faces and a deliciously morish mushroom filling. If mushrooms aren’t your thing, you could add diced chicken thigh, peppers, or even pulled pork.
For the buns, add the flour, yeast and salt into the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at a medium speed, slowly adding ¾ of the milk until the dough starts to come together. You may need to add more milk if needed until you have a dry dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Continue to mix for at least 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover and leave to prove for 1 hour until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, for the mushroom filling. Blitz the mushrooms finely in a food processor Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry off the mushrooms, spring onions, garlic and ginger until all the moisture has evaporated and you are left with a dry mix. Add the soy sauce, mix and set aside to cool completely.
Once proved, remove 50g of dough and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into 6 equal balls.
Use your hand to flatten each dough ball into circle, then place 1 teaspoon of the mushroom filling in the middle. Pinch the dough around the filling to seal, then gently reroll the stuffed dough to create even balls, ensuring that the seal is on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Add a few drops of black gel food colouring to the reserved 50g dough and knead to create an even colour.
Taking small pieces of the black dough, roll between your hands to create 12 round panda ears, 12 oval eyes and 6 round noses.
Use water to stick a set of ears, eyes and a nose to each filled ball.
Place the panda balls on squares of baking parchment, then put in the bamboo steamer with the lid on. Leave for 20-30 minutes to prove, until puffed, slightly risen and springing back when touched.
Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce boil the dark soy sauce and dark brown sugar together until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened. Take off the heat and add the garlic and lime juice.
Once the panda balls have proved, place the steamer over a pan of simmering water and steam for 10-12 minutes.
Serve your buns with the dipping sauce.