Longevity Peach Buns
The association between peaches and longevity stem from Chinese myths. Similar to how ambrosia was the food of the Gods of Greek mythology, peaches were eaten by Chinese immortals.
Another story that links peaches and longevity comes from The Queen Mother of the West, a Chinese goddess in the Taoist tradition.
It is said that she grows the peaches of immortality in her garden on the mythical Kunlun mountain. Every 3,000 years, she gathers together immortals to eat the ripe peaches so that they will become young again.
This is how the Peaches of Immortality became known. Since then peaches have symbolized immortality or the wish for a long and healthy life.
They are depicted in Chinese art, used as offerings during prayers and associated with certain deities or immortals or other symbols of longevity. Food is no different!
You can learn more about other foods with symbolic meanings in “Lucky Foods“.
As an alternative to giving fresh peaches as gifts and offerings, you can make longevity peach buns. They are commonly given during celebrations like birthdays, especially weddings, or other important Chinese holidays.
Other than their symbolism, longevity peach buns are popular because of their sweet taste and cute appearance. They are normally filled with a red bean paste. Chinese buns can also be filled with custard or taro.
Longevity Peach Bun Recipe
- 300 grams all-purpose flour
- 60 grams use cornstarch
- 4 grams instant yeast
- 50 grams of sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 150-185 ml cold milk or cold water
- 100 grams red beans/azuki beans
- 75 grams sugar – more if you want it sweeter
- 60 grams of cooking oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Water – for boiling the beans
- Red and green food colouring
- Soak the beans for at least 8 hours. Soaking overnight is recommended. After, strain the beans and discard the water.
- Put the beans into a large pot and fill with water. Fill until the water level reaches 2 inches above the beans. Boil the beans until they are soft or cracked open. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they are easily washable. You may need to top off with some water along the way.
- When the beans are cooked, drain off the water and pour the beans into your blender. Set the blender to puree and puree them until they become a paste consistency. You can add the cooking oil to help it goes if necessary.
- Scoop the bean paste out of the blender and spread it onto a non-stick pot.
- Add sugar and oil and cook the paste again over medium heat until the paste is dry. The paste will be smooth and shiny and easily scraped off the side of the pot.
- Transfer the paste to a bowl and cover to prevent it from drying out. They will thicken further after they cool down.
Note: wrapping the buns will be easier if the paste has been chilled in 30-gram pieces
- Place all ingredients for the bun in a mixing bowl. If you are using a standing mixer, knead the dough with a dough hook attachment until the dough is soft and not sticky anymore, This will take about 5 minutes.
- Wrap the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Prepare your work area by lightly dusting the surface with all-purpose flour
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Keeping the dough covered and work with one piece of dough at a time.
- If you plan to make the green leaves, save about 20 grams of dough.
- Add a small amount of green food colouring and mix well. Then roll the dough out flat.
- Use a small paring knife or if you have a leaf cookie cutter shape to cut out 24 leaves (2 for each bun).
Wrapping and Shaping the Buns:
- If you don’t plan to use a filling, pull and tuck the dough from top to bottom so the seams are at the bottom and the surface is relatively smooth.
- If you plan to use a filling, place the filling on the center of the bun and then gather the sides to enclose the bun and pinch to seal. Flip the bun so the seam side is down now.
- Shape the buns into a peach shape. Repeat this with the rest of the dough and fillings.
- Use a toothpick or chopstick to make a vertical indentation on the bun to resemble a peach.
- Put a drop or two of red food colouring in 1 tbsp of water and use your finger to gently brush this on the lower part of the buns or on the top part. Either way works.
- Attach the two leaves on the buns if you made the leaves. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling. Keep the buns covered in a clean dry towel.
- Let the buns rise at a warm place for about 10-15 minutes. By the time you finished wrapping and shaping the last buns, the first few may have already risen for 5-10 minutes.
- They should puff up to about 50% of their original size, they won’t double in size. Make sure to not let the buns rise too much. If you are steaming in batches, you may need to place the next batch in the fridge to prevent the bun from over rising while waiting for their turns to be steamed.
Steaming the Buns:
- To steam the buns, add some water to a steamer and bring it to a rolling boil. Wrap the edges of the lid with a cloth to prevent condensation drips back to the buns.
- Cut small squares of wax paper and place one bun on top. This will prevent the buns from sticking to the steamer.
- Place the risen buns in the steamer and close the lid. Lower the heat to low and let them steam for the next 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and wait 1 minute before opening the lid.
- Remove the buns and let them cool down on a cooling rack so the bottom of the buns won’t be wet and soggy.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the next batch until all the buns have been steamed.
- Ready to serve!