Friday, 4 July 2014

Food | Chinese Bakery Goodies

When it comes to food, the Chinese simply excel. But when it comes to desserts, it's always a bit of a let down. Don't get me wrong - there are some Chinese desserts I could happily nom on like mango pudding and sago pudding, but more times than not, after eating a hearty meal out in a Chinese restaurant, I usually am faced with a plate of oranges. While I appreciate that it is healthy, count towards one of my five a day and cleanses the palate, there are some times where I just rather have a sundae than an orange. So to make up for it, every time I find myself in Chinatown, I cannot help myself but visit a Chinese bakery and stock up on some sweet desserts instead. Here are my pick of the bunch.
One of the most famous bakery item is a 菠蘿包 - otherwise known as a "bo lo baau" literally translated to pineapple bun. Don't worry, there is not even the slightest smidgen of pineapple taste on this delicious bun - the name comes from the criss crossed pattern visible on the top not too dissimilar to a tiger or giraffe bread that you can find in the UK. According to the Chinese, it looks like the exterior of a pineapple skin? This delightful item is just a plain sweet bun with a crumbly butter pastry topping and a soft bun underneath. This is my older sister's favourite item and always one we go home with. Definitely something to try out if you're walking into a Chinese bakery for the first time. 

 Daan tart!! This has to be my number 1 favourite item from the Chinese bakery and my little sister and I absolutely adore them! 蛋撻 or egg tarts are egg custard filled pastries that are so small and cute it is so easy to just nom through a three or four without a care in the world. I don't know whether it is the flaky pastry crust (you can also find firm shortbread-esque crusts as well), or the yummy egg custard filling or something else, but my love for daan tarts is one that will most definitely never end.

My mom always put one of these in our bakery box when we were younger, but it is only recently have started consciously adding them to my order. These long finger buns are known as cocktail buns in the bakery store or by their Chinese name as 雞尾包 or gai mei baau literally translated to chicken tail bun - you have GOT to love the Chinese language sometimes! Again, it is a sweet bun, and filled with shredded coconut which complements nicely against the sweetness of the bun. Yummy.

I remember my little sister always insisting we buy one of these rolls when we were younger - it was like her go-to bakery item. Of course we never got a slice, it was the entire roll we bought! Swiss rolls (are normally chocolate filled and very much fits into the dessert category (think Christmas style Yule logs) but the Chinese take on it (瑞士卷 or 瑞士卷蛋糕) is a very light sponge with fresh cream inside making the swirl which makes up the original version. You can also get different varieties as shown above depending on the bakery with some of the more popular flavours includes mango, strawberry and of course, chocolate.

Until I just Wikipedia'd this item, I never knew it's real name which is nuomici - my family has always called it a "snowball"! The outer shell is a glutinous rice dumpling, and we always get the white version which is covered with desiccated coconut. Once you bite into it, you get the wonderful surprise of finely chopped peanuts in the middle and combined with the coconut makes an amazing little sweet treat. I have absolutely no idea what the pink and green versions contain above, but considering that other varieties of the nuomici can be found containing a red bean paste, I'm inclined to think it contains it. 

This is not so much a dessert as it can be found on a dim sum menu but is another item commonly found in a Chinese bakery. Known as zongzi or 粽子, it is glutinous rice mixed with different filling, wrapped in leaves and tied with string. The shape is nearly always a pyramid type shape, and is also eaten at Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year. My brother adores this whereas I am not the biggest fan of them.

Have you been to a Chinese bakery lately?
What's your favourite thing to eat?
Anything I've missed off the list?
Let me know in the comments below!


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