Steamed buns are a staple of Southern German cuisine yet they are most often prepared from a sweet yeast dough. This version with sourdough is a bit different from the sweet version that you eat with vanilla sauce. The reason that I make these buns with sourdough is that I want to enjoy them as a side dish for goulash to soak up the savory sauce. I will post a recipe for the sweet version on this blog another time. It’s a crime to eat steamed buns without a sauce in Germany!
What is very important for Germans is that the bottom is crispy. Steamed buns without a caramelized crust are non-acceptable. It takes a bit of experience and good heat management to not burn the bottom but you need to let the buns fry after steaming. Taking the buns off the heat too quickly will result in disappointment. For this savory version, I fry the buns in clarified butter with a few pinches of salt. This is the easy version. The sweet buns which get steamed with milk instead of water are prone to burning but have an outrageously delicious milk caramel crust. But that is a story for another recipe.
The key to success: Don’t lift the lid off your pan before the buns are fully cooked. Else they will deflate. And: Keep the dough firm and don’t leave the buns to rise for too long. They will grow in the pan. If the dough is too soft or over-inflated the buns are prone to deflate.
I use skim milk powder in this recipe instead of regular milk because I wanted to feed my sourdough starter with water. You can use milk instead of water and skim milk powder if you’re fine feeding your sourdough start with milk.
A visual guide to sourdough steamed buns
The dough should be firm and not sticky. You need to knead it until smooth.
Don’t open the lid before the buns are fully cooked!
The bottom of the buns should be fried until golden brown!