Warm the milk in a pan
Transfer half of the warm milk into a cup and set aside
Add the live yeast to the pan of warm milk with the sugar and 6 tbsp flour
Mix into a thick paste and allow to rise in the pan (somewhere warm). Cover it with a cloth and allow it to double in size
Combine the flour and salt in a big mixing bowl and crack the eggs into a well in the centre
Once doubled, pour the yeast starter into the well with the eggs. In order to get all the yeast out, you can pour in some milk into the pan so that it gets a little easier to extract.
Start incorporating the dry and the wet in a big bowl. When they’re mixed together, you can use a bit of flour to coat the whole mass so that it’s easier to grab. And then you have to beat the dough. Use your whole arm strength for about 5 minutes.
The consistency should be a stiff, consistent dough that easily forms a ball and doesn’t have any lumps. Add a little bit of flour to the sides of the bowl to scrape up the bits. Once all done with the dough, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Take another minute or so to incorporate the oil. Now it should be soft and shiny.
Cover with a sprinkling of flour. Then cover with a kitchen towel so that it can rise completely. This should take about 20 minutes. In the summer it might be warmer so it’ll take less time, and the opposite for the winter. Place the bowl in a relatively warm area, next to the stove is a good option.
Now prepare the blueberry sauce. Keep some blueberries aside for decoration and put the others in a bowl with 3 tbsp sugar. Blend with a hand blender. Babcia doesn’t like to cook them down, just blend from fresh.
Once risen, bash down and break into palm sized pieces and roll into balls between two palms
Place all the balls on a flour-dusted tray or wooden board, cover with dishcloth and leave for 5 minutes to rise
Prepare a pan for the steaming – you need a pan with a lid or two pans with the same circumference (one to form a lid upside down). Fill the pan with a layer of water and cover with a piece of cloth or tea towel stretched across the top – this will be the steaming platform.
Pop buns onto the cloth, cover and steam for 8 minutes. Serve immediately!!!
Babcia Ania made us Pampuchy – a Polish steamed dumpling similar to Bao buns. They can be eaten sweet or savoury. It’s the dish her grandchildren always ask for when they go to visit.
Babcia had her two daughters and their husbands, her grandson and his family, our photographer, videographer, the two of us and her granddaughter to feed. This meant we ate in two ‘loads’ at the table while Babcia established a very successful production line steaming the buns while the others rose.
We ate them first with a rich pork and onion stew, using the fluffy buns to soak up the gravy. Then we ate them with the blueberry sauce – made with blueberries we’d watched her barter for with serious gusto at the market that morning.
Makes about 20 buns
1kg plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
0.5 litre milk, warmed
60 grams fresh yeast
Punnet of blueberries
3 tbsp granulated sugar
Read Ania’s interview here