Most people know Taiwan for its Sun pastry (太阳饼) and Pineapple pastry. Those are unquestionably delicious. But my all-time favourite has to be the Ox-Tongue pastry (牛舌饼). It isn’t as well known perhaps because it feels more like breakfast than a snack but for me it’s everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, supper… why not?
Unlike what it’s name suggests, it is a sweet pastry and vegetarian when lard isn’t used like in this recipe. Pastries in Taiwan, and actually in general, tend to be made with lard but raw fat feels disconcerting to me. I looked for a butter-based pastry and I’m happy to say it tastes like the one I have in Taiwan but less stale.
You can find 2 main varieties of this pastry in Taiwan. Yilan 宜兰 is famous for the flat crisp ones— crispy, thin, basically a cookie, great for a snack but you’ll need probably 5 to get any satisfaction. Lukang 鹿港 is famous for the thick variety, the ones I’m writing about here. They are thick, crispy and flaky on the outside, and chewy on the inside. The sweet maltose fragrance and that bite keeps me coming back to it every time.
I added sourdough discard to this recipe. It is not essential but it does add a subtle flavour that some may enjoy though it’s not detectable to the untrained tastebuds. Feel free to replace with 50g all purpose flour and 50g water.
Due to the multi-stage nature of this recipe, you may want to make it across a couple of days like I did. I prepared the three doughs on one day, divided them on one day and assembled/cooked on the last day. Just remember to refrigerate everything in the fridge and take out the oil dough at least an hour before assembly on the final day. The water dough and filling are actually more easily shaped cold.
This recipe will not have you exult it’s simplicity but it will give you a sense of satisfaction should you desire some. It may seem like a Herculean task but trust me, it’s way more easy than you think and rather difficult to mess up. It is a fairly forgiving recipe and you will still end up with a palatable product in spite of mistakes (unless you add salt instead of sugar then I dare you to eat it).
If maltose is not your thing, the dough has a neutral taste and can contain practically anything you like. I’ve seen peanut, sesame and even savoury flavours.
Sourdough Ox-Tongue Pastry
Recipe is adapted from here
Filling (24g each)
14g sweet potato flour, sifted
70g powdered sugar, sifted
10g fried glutinous flour (koufen)
100g cake flour, sifted
To make filling, use chopsticks or a mixer to mix [D] until the maltose is evenly dispersed and coated with flour. Add everything in [C] to the mixer and mix till combined evenly. Split filling into 16 24g pieces and form each into a ball.
[A] Water dough (24g each)
140g all purpose flour, sifted
25g fine sugar
[B] Oil dough (12g each)
127g cake flour, sifted
Note 1: if you do not have fried glutinous flour, simply slowly stir regular glutinous flour in a saucepan over low heat until very slightly yellow.
Note 2: discard is not necessary for this recipe. I use it to add flavour and also to use up my discard. I use discard made from bread flour and hence used 42g cake flour and 98g bread flour in the water dough. I have no idea if other types of discard other than APF work.
To make both water and oil doughs, mix all the respective ingredients together in a stand mixer until dough is formed. If the oil dough does not come together, add some water until it does. Split water dough into 16 24g pieces and form each into a ball. Split oil dough into 16 12g pieces and form each into a ball.
1. Wrap oil dough into water dough, roll into a nice ball, shape it into an oval and let rest for 10 minutes
2. Flatten with a rolling pin and roll up like a Swiss roll width to width. Let rest for 10 minutes.
3. Repeat step 2
4. Use your finger to indent the center of the dough between the two open ends, flatten with rolling pin. Let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Wrap filling within the dough and form a ball, shape it into an oval and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Flatten into oval shape roughly 0.5cm thick
7. Cook for 8 minutes over low heat with lid on or until surface is brown and slightly poofed. Flip and cook for 4 more minutes without lid. Let cool on wire rack.