For the bao dough: Attach a dough hook to a stand mixer. In the mixer bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and yeast and whisk to incorporate. Place the mixer bowl on the mixer and set to low. Add 1/2 cup water and allow the liquid to absorb into the dry ingredients, then increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough, scraping down the sides every minute or two, until a dough ball pulls together, is smooth to the touch and feels soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the lard to the dough and knead for another 3 to 5 minutes until incorporated. The dough ball should hold together but be soft to the touch. Place in a large, oiled bowl, cover tightly and allow to double in size at room temperature, about 90 minutes.
For the filling: Place the Char Siu Cantonese Red Roasted Pork in a medium bowl and reserve.
Place a large skillet over high heat. Swirl in the oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion, red and green bell peppers and scallions and stir-fry to brown, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the sugar, oyster sauce, thin and dark soy sauce and 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables and discard. The idea is to break them down to release their essential oils and flavor into the sauce.
Stir the potato starch, cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the sauce in the skillet and let simmer. Cook it down, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it becomes a thick paste, about 3 minutes. Spoon the paste into the reserved bowl of pork and fold in until well combined. Reserve until ready to fill.
Remove the dough from the bowl and punch down to a ball on a lightly floured surface. Gently pull the edges out until you form a loose rectangle. Roll out the rectangle until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Taking the edges from the long side, roll the dough into a log like a cinnamon roll log. Cut the roll into 2-inch-wide pieces.
Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand and roll with rolling pin into a 3-inch round. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Gather the dough up around the filling by pleating along the edges. Bring the pleats up and twist securely and firmly. Place each bao on a parchment square.
To cook, set up a bamboo steamer and bring the water to a boil. Steam, covered, for 8 minutes; do not remove the lid. Serve warm.
Char Siu Cantonese Red Roasted Pork:
For the marinade: Put the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce, sugar, honey, sherry, ginger, red yeast rice powder, Chinese five-spice powder and garlic in a blender and blend on low for about 30 seconds until well combined and smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup for the glaze and pour the remainder into a large bowl or baking dish to marinate the pork. Cut the pork butt into 2-inch-wide by 8-inch strips. Put the pork strips in the marinade, massage well, cover and let marinate in the refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
For the glaze: In a small bowl, mix together the reserved 1/4 cup marinade and honey until combined. Thin it out to a thick syrup with some water if necessary. This glaze is for brushing on the pork after roasting to lock in the juiciness and add sweetness and shine.
To cook the pork: Set a 6-quart air fryer to full fan 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Remove the pork from the marinade and pat off any excess. Roast the pork until a beautiful red and brown with some nice char on some of the edges and a probe thermometer inserted in the center registers 165 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Baste the pork with the glaze on all sides, then cook about 5 minutes more. Yield: about 8 servings
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