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Shao Bing, Chinese Sesame Flatbread

These lightly crispy and savory shao bing are great for breakfast and go well with a wide variety of fillings. This sesame flatbread is a simple bread with a soft, flaky interior and a toasty sesame exterior. 

Shao Bing, Chinese Sesame Flatbread

Shao bing is a popular street food and breakfast item in both Northern China and Taiwan. It goes by many names: shao bing, huoshao, clay oven rolls, and sesame flatbread. Traditionally, this Chinese flatbread recipe is baked, unleavened (no yeast, baking powder, or baking soda), and layered. Since it is plain bread, it can be enjoyed by itself or with fillings. Shao bing is also enjoyed alongside other classic breakfast items such as salty soy milk and Chinese cruller.

There are multiple ways to make shao bing. For instance, the shaobing bread can be shaped into an oblong oval shape, as shown here, or into a round shape. Oblong flatbreads typically have the fillings added after baking, while round ones have the fillings wrapped inside before baking. Moreover, some recipes have started to include yeast for an even more airy end product. 

Savory Fillings: 

  • Before baking: Scallions, spiced ground beef/pork
  • After baking: egg omelet, youtiao (Chinese cruller), braised beef shank, tofu

Sweet fillings: sugar, red bean paste, black sesame paste, etc.

How to Make Shao Bing

First, add the salt and flour to a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix until well combined. Then, add the cold water and knead the dough into one mass. The dough should be tacky but not super sticky. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes. 

Dough Making

Add the flour and oil for the oil roux to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook for 10 minutes, or until the roux becomes golden brown and smells toasty. 

Knead the dough for one minute until smooth. Let it rest for an additional 5 minutes to relax. 

Smooth Dough

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rough rectangle shape around 1/8″ thick. Spread on the oil roux in a thin layer. 

Oil Roux Spread on Top

Roll the dough from the long side and pinch to seal shut. Cut the rolled dough into eight pieces. Pinch the sides of the cut pieces shut.

Rolled into a Log

Take one piece of dough and orient it so that the cut edges are along the sides and the seam is facing upwards. Roll the dough out to about 6″ in length and do a vertical tri-fold (like a letter). 

Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the cut ends are now the top and bottom edges. Repeat the process of flattening to a 6″ length and completing a vertical tri-fold. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

Creating the Layers for Shao Bing

Place the sesame seeds on a flat plate. Lightly dampen the smooth side of a dough portion with some water and press that side into the sesame seeds. Flatten the dough into a 6″ by 2″ rectangle. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces

Final Roll Out for the Dough Before Baking

Bake the dough in a 450F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Cut open and stuff with for choice of filling.

Shao Bing, Chinese Sesame Flatbread Inside

Notes

  1. The dough should feel tacky. The extra moisture and high oven temperature should help the bread to puff up while baking. If your dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour. If it is too soft/not tacky, add a splash of water.
  2. If the dough is difficult to roll out, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before proceeding. 
  3. Baking: Don’t bake the shao bing for too long, or the exterior will be too tough to cut through.
  4. Cutting: you can can open the shao bing with a knife or a pair of scissors.
  5. You can freeze the baked shao bing for longer storage. To eat frozen shao bing, simply defrost and toast it for a few minutes before enjoying. 

Shao Bing, Chinese Sesame Flatbread

These lightly crispy and savory shao bing are great for breakfast and go well with a wide variety of fillings. This flatbread is a simple bread with a soft, flaky interior and a toasty sesame exterior.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: chinese flatbread recipe, clay oven rolls, sesame flatbread, shao bing, shao bing recipe
Servings: 8 pieces
Calories: 219kcal

Ingredients

  • 300 g cups ap flour 2.5 cups, see Note 3
  • 160 mL boiling water 2/3 cup
  • 60 mL cold water 1/4 cup
  • 1 tsp salt

Oil Roux

  • 45 g flour 6 tbsp
  • 38 g oil 3 tbsp oil

Topping

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • water

Instructions

Make the Dough

  • Add the salt and flour to a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix until well combined.
  • Add the cold water and knead the dough into one mass. The dough should be tacky, but not super sticky. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Make the Roux

  • Add the flour and oil for the oil roux to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook for 10 minutes, until the roux becomes golden brown and smells toasty. The consistency of the roux should be thick.

Create the Layers

  • Knead the dough for one minute until smooth. Cover and let it rest for an additional 5-10 minutes to relax.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a roughly rectangle around 1/8" thick. (0.3 cm thick)
  • Generously spread on the oil roux in a thin layer across the entire surface of the dough.
  • Roll from the long side and pinch to seal shut. Cut the rolled dough into 8 pieces. Pinch the sides of the cut pieces shut.
  • (See post above for picture references) Take one piece of dough and orient it so that the cut edges are along the sides and the seam is facing upwards. Roll the dough out to about 5" in length and do a vertical tri-fold (like a letter). Note 1
  • Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the cut ends are now the top and bottom edges. Repeat the process of flattening to a 5″ length and completing a vertical trifold. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
  • Place the sesame seeds on a flat plate.
  • Lightly dampen the smooth side of a dough piece with some water and press that side into the sesame seeds. Flatten the dough into a 6″ by 2″ rectangle. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces

Bake the Dough

  • Bake the dough in a 450F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Note 2
  • Cut open and stuff with youtiao (Chinese cruller), beef shank, an egg omelet, etc. See post above for more suggestions

Notes

  1. If the dough is difficult to roll out, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before proceeding. 
  2. Don’t bake the shao bing for too long, or the exterior will be too tough to cut through.
  3. When measuring with cups, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cups and level off the excess with a flat edge. This way, the cups measurement will most accurately match the grams measurement. 

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