How To Make Bao Buns – Mantou Chinese Steamed Buns
Photograph courtesy of Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table A variety of delectable fillings are used to assemble these Chinese-style buns by Johanna Ware, owner ofSmallwares in Portland, Oregon. Ware steams the buns to a light and fluffy perfection, but you can also fry them if you so desire. Fun fact: When the buns are fried plain, they are referred to as mantou, and when they are filled, they are referred to as baozi. More information may be found in the book ” Breaking Bao.” Johanna Ware, Smallwares, Portland, OR, provided the inspiration for this recipe.
- A total of 133 cup warm water, 2 teaspoons quick yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon canola oil, and 114 cups whole wheat bread flour, plus more flour as needed 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Using a small mixing bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar until the yeast is well incorporated. Set aside the mixture for 4 to 6 minutes or until the yeast begins to froth and bloom (around 4 to 6 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. Meanwhile, combine the bread flour, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula until well combined. If you see that the dough is sticking together, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it becomes less sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Place a moist kitchen towel over the dough and set it aside for 112 to 2 hours until it has doubled in volume. To flatten the dough, punch it down with your fist. Separate the dough into balls that are about 2 inches in diameter and set them aside for five minutes to rest. Each ball should be flattened into a disk measuring 3 inches in diameter. Fill the buns with the filling of your choice and wrap them by gathering the edges and twisting them a little. The bao should be covered with a moist kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. Place the buns in a steamer basket lined with parchment paper and steam for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the buns have expanded in volume. Serve
|Calories per Serving||66|
|Total Fat||1.3 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g|
|Trans Fat||0.0 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||11.7 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0.5 g|
|Total Sugars||2.0 g|
Edamam’s best guess based on available ingredients and cooking methods is represented in the table above. It should not be construed as a substitute for the advice of a licensed professional nutritionist.
What is Bao?
Bao Buns (pronounced “bow”), also known as’steamed buns’ or ‘baozi’, are a wonderful, warm, fluffy delicacy of filling wrapped in a sweet, white dough and baked till golden brown. The bao, which is made from a mixture of flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, milk, and oil, is a touch sweeter than its closely related relative, the dumpling, because of the addition of sugar. It is a sort of stuffed bun or bread-like dumpling that originated in Chinese cuisines and is now found all over the world.
The bao bun is most generally associated with being filled with pork, however as the bao bun has gained in popularity across the world, the variety of bao bun fillings has grown significantly.
Are you looking for a quick and easy way to create Bao Buns?
What can you serve with bao?
Bao is slightly sweeter than your typical bread bun, so we tend to use fillings that will balance out the flavors and turn it into a savoury, delectable appetizer or light meal. So, wok, do you think you’ll be able to serve it with bao? As previously stated, the world is your oyster when it comes to what to offer with bao. However, as previously stated, some may choose the most frequent filling for bao, which is bbq pork, with a light and sticky sauce to complement it. Others may like a savory snack such as steak, salmon, or glazed mushrooms, as well as a sweet dessert such as chocolate!
Just a recap of some bao buns fillings:
- Bao buns with BBQ pork
- Bao buns with pig belly
- Bao buns with pickled vegetables
- Bao buns with beef
- Bao buns with fish
- Bao buns with glazed mushrooms
- Bao buns with chocolate
Are Baos healthy?
Because of the incredible plasticity of bao dough, you have a lot of control over how nutritious your bao buns are. There are a variety of options available, including a less-than-traditional dessert such as the chocolate bao, or a healthier vegetarian-based bao. The choice is entirely up to you. We cannot, however, claim that baos are the “healthiest” of all snack foods (in the sense of calorie-counting, diet-dabbling Instagrammers, at least).
It should be noted that bao dough is composed of the six main ingredients listed above (flour; yeast; sugar; baking powder; milk; and oil); as such, it is a deliciously sweet dough that should be enjoyed as part of a well-balanced diet rather than as the basis of every meal.
Do bao buns have gluten in?
Our School of Wok Bao Bun Kits contain wheat, and as a result, they would not be suitable for those who are allergic to gluten. Nonetheless, the bao recipe is transferable, and if you have any food intolerances, you can modify the recipe by substituting different ingredients to meet your needs when making them from scratch. Please watch our video on how to make the perfect makeshift steamer if you find yourself with one of our School of Wok Bao Buns Kits but without a bamboo steamer. Check out our School of Wok Bao Bun Kits if after reading this your mouth is watering as much as ours and you have a sudden need for some bao!
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Steamed Bao Buns
These steamed bao buns are one of our favorite dishes to prepare for a romantic evening at home together. While Jack is preparing the dough, I am preparing the filling. Then it’s time to eat! Steamed bao bun preparation is our notion of the ultimate Valentine’s Day date. Let me explain. Jack and I adore dining out, but we never do so on Valentine’s Day. The restaurants are more busy, the food is more costly, and we always end up having a better time at home instead of at the restaurant. Consequently, we forego the crowds and celebrate simply by spending quality time together creating something we both like.
- If you ask me, they’re the perfect cookery project for a couple to do together.
- Then combine the two ingredients to create a delectable date-night meal!
- Making these bao buns would be a wonderful hobby to do with friends, a partner, or even by yourself on any given night.
- They are transformed into little bursts of texture and taste when stuffed with spicy marinated tempeh, avocado, and a slew of fresh toppings.
How to Make Steamed Bao Buns
Are you ready to start cooking? What you need to do is as follows: To begin, prepare the dough. Combine the dry yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large mixing bowl and let aside for 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to bubble. Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add the yeast mixture and avocado oil. Stir well to blend. Form a rough ball out of the mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it vigorously for approximately 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic in texture.
After the dough has risen, cut out the bao buns with a sharp knife.
Then, using a drinking glass, cut out three-inch circles of dough and lay each one on a sheet of parchment paper to set aside.
Wrap the buns in plastic wrap and set them aside to rise for another hour or two.
Finally, get to cooking! Each bun should remain on its paper square until it is transferred to a bamboo steamer placed over an inch of boiling water. Cover and steam for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the rice is puffed. That’s all there is to it!
Bao Buns Filling
Traditional bao buns are stuffed with seasoned pork belly, but I choose to use a plant-based filling instead of the traditional meat. Making sweet and savory hoisin tempeh using my preferred tempeh cooking method (steaming, marinating, and baking) is easy! Tofu that has been marinated and baked would be a fantastic addition to this dish as well. While the tempeh bakes, I prepare the fresh vegetable toppings by washing and slicing them. This dish is always served with thinly sliced carrot and/or cucumber, fresh cilantro or mint, avocado, chilies, and sesame seeds on top.
Immediately after taking them out of the steamer, stuff them with the filling because they are at their finest when they are warm and tender.
Bao Bun Recipe Tips
- Make use of a neutral oil. In my recipes, I almost always call for extra-virgin olive oil, but I prefer avocado oil in this situation. Because of its neutral flavor, it allows the flavorful fillings in this recipe to really stand out. If you are unable to locate avocado oil, substitute another neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil, for it. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon at a time of water until it is moistened. This bao bun recipe yields a stiff dough, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few minutes longer to form a ball than expected. The dough should be moist enough to hold together, but not too moist. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. Because yeast responds to heat, it is best to allow your dough to rise in a warm environment to achieve the best results. We prefer to set ours up on a sunny ledge, and we like to serve the bao buns hot from the steamer as well. The steamed buns are at their best right after they’ve been taken off the heat, while they’re still soft and supple. If you have any leftover buns, they may be frozen.
More Favorite Date Night Recipes
If you and your spouse like cooking together, consider one of these enjoyable culinary projects next:
- Maki Sushi
- Fresh spring rolls or avocado summer rolls
- Baked green chile tacos
- Crispy baked falafel with pickled onions and tahini sauce
- Baked green chile tacos Best Vegetarian Lasagna
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Best Vegetarian Lasagna
For even more Valentine’s Day inspiration, check out my25 Best Pasta Recipes or Favorite Vegan Desserts collections. Preparation time: 2 hours and 15 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Serves12buns These steamed bao buns are absolutely delicious and a lot of fun to put together! With fragrant marinated tempeh and plenty of fresh ingredients, I stuff the soft, fluffy buns with deliciousness!
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 12 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, 110°
- 212 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 14 cup avocado oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Avocado slices
- 8 ounces tempeh, divided into 12 strips and cooked
- 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon lime zest Cucumber and/or carrot slices, if desired
- Mint or cilantro are good choices. Thai chiles, diced
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Thai basil
- Make the Bao Buns according to package directions. In a small mixing basin, whisk together the yeast, sugar, and water until well combined. Wait 5 minutes, or until the yeast begins to bubble
- Then remove from heat. In a large mixing basin, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine the avocado oil, yeast mixture, and enough water to create a rough ball. If the dough is too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional water. Toss the dough with a little flour and roll it into a ball, kneading it vigorously until it is smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes
- Brush the interior of a bowl with a little oil and set the dough inside. Refrigerate it for 45 minutes after covering it with plastic wrap. (Please keep in mind that it will not rise as much as other traditional yeasted doughs.)
- Make the tempeh filling in a separate bowl. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, sriracha, ginger, and lime zest until well combined and smooth. Half of the sauce should be reserved for serving, and the remaining half should be mixed with the tempeh slices and left aside for 20 minutes to marinade. Place the tempeh on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it is browned around the edges
- Finish the buns by pressing them together. Prepare a large baking sheet by cutting twelve 4-inch squares of parchment paper and placing them on it. Transfer the dough to a clean work area and roll it out to a 14-inch thickness, spreading it out evenly. Cut out circles of dough with a 3-inch glass and arrange them on the squares of paper to form a pattern. Lightly brush the tops with oil, then fold each circle in half and gently push down, flattening just a little so that the halves adhere together but the buns retain their puffy structure. Wrap the dish in plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until puffed. Remove from the pan and place in a bamboo steamer placed over a pan filled with 1 inch water. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and steam for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the rice is puffed. Working in bunches is recommended. Assemble. Add a squeeze of lime juice to the avocado, cucumber, and carrot and mix well. Stack each bread with the tempeh, spooning a little sauce over each tempeh piece, the avocado, the vegetables, herbs, and chiles. Repeat with the remaining buns. The leftover sauce should be served on the side, with lime segments for squeezing.
The recipe for the buns was borrowed from The Elizabeth Street Café Cookbook.
Steamed bao buns
- 525g plain flour, with a little more for dusting
- 525g butter
- 12-tablespoon caster sugar, plus a pinch
- 1 teaspoon quick-action dry yeast
- 50mL milk, 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, plus additional for brushing on top and rubbing on the bottom of the bowl
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- STEP 1Combine the flour, caster sugar, and 12 tsp salt in a large mixing basin until well combined (see tip). 1 tbsp warm water to dissolve the yeast and a pinch of sugar, then add it to the flour along with the milk, sunflower oil, rice vinegar, and 200ml water to make a dough. Bring everything together to form a dough, adding a little additional water if necessary
- STEP 2Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work area and knead for 10-15 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Placing the dough in a lightly oiled basin and covering it with a moist towel, allow it to rise for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. TO COMPLETE STEP 3: Dump the dough onto a clean work area and punch it down. Rolling out with your hands to flatten the dough, sprinkle over the baking powder, and knead for 5 minutes
- SIXTH STEP: Roll out the dough into a long sausage form that is approximately 3cm thick, then cut into pieces that are approximately 3cm broad – you should have 18 pieces total. Roll each piece of dough into a ball in the palm of your hand and let aside to rest for 2-3 minutes
- Then, one by one, using a rolling pin, flatten out each ball into an oval form that is approximately 3-4mm thick. Oil the dough ovals’ surfaces with a pastry brush, then brush a little oil over the end of a chopstick. Place a greased chopstick in the center of each oval and press down. STEP 6Cut 18 squares of baking paper and place a bun on each square. Fold the dough over the chopstick and slowly take the chopstick out of the dough. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with a clean tea towel, and let to prove in a warm area for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until doubled in size
- STEP 7: Preheat a large steamer over a medium-high heat until it is steaming. To steam the buns, steam them for 8 minutes, or until they are puffed up (you may need to do this in batches). Open each bun and stuff with our barbecued pork and pickled carrot mooli (recipe below). Consume them when they are still warm.
Up to the conclusion of step 3, the dough may be readily prepared in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
FREEZING THE BUNS
Up to the conclusion of step 3, the dough may be simply prepared in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Goes well with
Recipe adapted from the February 2015 issue of Good Food magazine.
The BEST Bao Buns Recipe & Video
- 1/3 cupwarm water
- 1/2 cupwarm milk
- 1 tbspactive dry yeast
- 4 tbsp sugar, divided in half
- 2 tbspavocado, vegetable or canola oil
- 2 1/2 cupsall purpose flour (use blenched flour if you want completely white buns)
- 1/2 tspbaking powder
- 1/4 tspsalt
- 2 1/2 cups
- Warm the water, milk, active yeast, sugar, and oil together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine the yeast and sugar, then set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. In the meantime, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. You may also build something with your hand if you like
- The wet components should be added to the dry ingredients combination. Begin by mixing on a low speed to slowly incorporate all of the ingredients together, then increase the speed to medium until the mixture forms a dough shape. For 3 to 4 minutes at a medium tempo, keep your knees bent. The dough should be elastic and extremely soft, but it should not stick to your fingers or to the mixing bowl
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and shape it into a ball with your hands. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has tripled in size. Allow it to rest for an additional 15 minutes if necessary
- Place the raised dough on a working surface. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle four is not required, but if you do, make sure you use the smallest amount possible. Using a ring mold or a glass, cut a 3 1/2-inch circle out of the dough (I used a wine glass). This recipe will yield between 14 and 16 baos. Fold the baos in half, making a half moon shape, after lightly brushing or spraying oil on one side of them. Gently press each bao with a roller before placing them on a steamer lined with parchment paper or coffee filters. Add an additional 30 minutes of resting time by covering with a lid
- In the meantime, heat water in a wok or steamer pot until it is boiling. Place the steamer containing the baos on top of the wok/pot of boiling water with care. Make certain that water does not get into contact with the baos. Steam for 8 to 12 minutes under a tight-fitting lid. Cooking is complete when the lid is tilted just a little to allow for gradual air circulation for around 2 to 3 minutes before removing the cover. To keep the dough from sticking to the coffee filter, spray it with water first. As an accompaniment or as a sandwich, this bao is delicious! Enjoy
Savory Buns, Steamed Buns, and Bao are some of the words that come to mind while thinking of Bao.
Homemade bao buns are extremely comfortable, thanks to their delicious, juicy filling and soft, fluffy wrappers. This article provides tips and tactics that will help you have a successful culinary experience. Steamed bao buns (Baozi, ), which are popular as both street food and an everyday family dish in China, are one of the foods that I particularly enjoy preparing. They are not difficult to make, but getting the texture and appearance just right can be difficult, especially when it comes to creating a nice wrapper that rises properly, has a smooth appearance, and has a soft, fluffy texture.
Which type of flour for bao buns?
To prepare bao buns, what kind of flour should I use is a matter of personal preference. My response to this FAQ is that any sort of wheat flour will work (regardless of the gluten level). However, you may choose to use a certain sort of flour in order to obtain a specific appearance or texture. Do you prefer them to be more fluffy and less chewy? Then use a flour that has a medium to low amount of gluten in it. Check the nutritional information on the box of flour you’re using. The protein content of the flour should be less than 11 grams per 100 grams of flour.
It’s the kind I use the most regularly for bao buns and other Chinese dishes.
There is a simple substitution for cake flour if you are like me and don’t have easy access to it: Combine all-purpose flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl (ratio: 5:1 by weight).
Before you use it, sift it. Another thing to keep in mind is that while yeast is used as a rising agent in bao buns, you should avoid using self-raising cake flour, which is widely available in the United Kingdom.
Is special bao flour better?
Bao bun flour/Mantou flour, which is particularly branded as such, may be found at Chinese and Asian markets. It has a low gluten content (about 8g protein per 100g flour), which makes it ideal for making fluffy Bao. However, I personally dislike it because it has been heavily bleached and processed (which is why the finished product has a whiter appearance). I’ve tried a few different kinds of bao flour and have found them to be devoid of any natural wheat flavor.
How to make the dough?
While dumpling (Jiaozi) dough is formed from water and wheat, bao buns are prepared using leavened dough, which is made with the addition of yeast to the dough. During the steaming process, the wrapper rises to the surface. My recipe for Bao bun dough calls for only five ingredients: all-purpose flour, dried yeast, sugar, cooking oil, and lukewarm water, to name a few.
- Weight-for-weight, the flourliquid (water + oil) ratio is 2:1. Depending on the type and brand of flour you use, the amount of flour you need may vary. The water-to-oil ratio is 10:1 in terms of weight. Preferably, you should use a cooking oil that does not have a strong flavor (such as those made from rapeseeds or sunflower seeds or canola oil or vegetable oil). For every 500g of flour, you’ll need 2 teaspoons of dry yeast, according to the recipe. Replace the sugar with the same amount or a little less (but not more)
Why is kneading important?
A bao bun with smooth, even skin is a favorite of many people. Unfortunately, handmade ones are prone to developing a pot-marked appearance over time. Well-kneaded dough will produce even air bubbles throughout the dough, resulting in a smoother look after baking and steaming. I’ve put my six-year-old daughter through a trial period. We kneaded two identical pieces of dough, rested them, and then steamed them in the same manner as before. Obviously, she possesses far less power and technique while kneading.
The fact that lengthy kneading would brighten the color of your dough was another unexpected discovery.
- You can use your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to make the dough. Knead the dough until it is very smooth
- For me, the best method is to first combine the ingredients in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or so, then finish by kneading with my hands. After the dough has risen and before you begin shaping the buns, you must knead it once more until it returns to its previous size and smooth appearance.
How long to rest the dough?
The dough hook of a stand mixer or the palms of your hands are also acceptable options. Knead the dough until it is extremely smooth; for me, the ideal method is to first combine the ingredients in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes, then finish by kneading with my hands. After the dough has risen and before you begin shaping the buns, you must knead it one more until it returns to its previous size and smooth appearance;
- Put the dough bowl in a warm room or place to rise. For example, next to a heater or a warmed oven would be ideal. Microwave a glass of water for a minute or two, then place your dough bowl in the water (keep the glass in). Close the door of the microwave
- Turn on your empty dryer for 2 minutes, then place the dough bowl inside (this trick was taught to me by food blogger Nagi)
- Due to the fact that humidity affects fermentation, you should cover your bowl with a damp cloth.
Allow the dough to rise until it has more than doubled in size. Then knead it again to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed. After shaping the dough into individual Bao, allow them to rise a second time before steaming them for around 15 minutes.
How to avoid bao bun collapsing?
If you’ve ever attempted to make bao buns before, you’re definitely aware of how difficult it can be. The most frequently seen issue is that the wrappers collapse, wrinkle, or stiffen after being steamed. As soon as you remove the steamer cover, I suspect many of you will hold your breath (or cross your fingers) in anticipation. My frustration with the inconsistent consistency of the fried wrappers used to drive me insane as well. As a result, I’ve undertaken several trials and culinary experiments in an attempt to resolve these issues.
- First and foremost, allow me to dispel a common misconception. Many recipes recommend that you should wait 5 minutes before removing the steamer from the heat source. This has no effect on the likelihood of collapse. Despite the fact that I always remove the cover quickly after turning off the heat (like my parents and restaurant chefs do), my bao buns do not change their appearance if the dough has been made properly. When preparing the dough, make sure to incorporate a small amount of sugar and frying oil. Sugar aids in the activation of the yeast and, as a result, ensures a healthy rise. It is less probable that the dough will collapse if there is enough oil in the dough to prevent moisture from escaping from the filling. As previously stated, the appearance of bao buns is affected by the kneading process. Allow for further kneading time and check to see that the dough is totally smooth before shaping it. It is critical to provide for adequate resting time during the dough fermentation process (as I described above, this should be done twice)
- It is important not to roll your wrapper too thin (particularly in the centre), since this may allow moisture from the filling to seep into the wrapper, leaving it soggy. Start by filling your steamer halfway with cold water. The gradual increase in temperature aids in the smooth development of the dough. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low setting. From this point forward, start counting the minutes until dinner is ready. I recommend that you spend no less than 15 minutes on this.
Make a tasty and juicy filling
Allow me to dispel a common misconception. It is recommended in many recipes that you wait 5 minutes before removing the steamer from the heat. However, collapse is still possible despite this. Even if I quickly remove the cover after turning off the heat (like my parents and restaurant chefs do), the appearance of my bao buns does not alter if the dough has been correctly prepared. When creating the dough, be sure to incorporate a small amount of sugar and frying oil. It is possible to achieve a good rise by using sugar to stimulate the yeast.
Kneading has an impact on the look of bao buns, as I previously said.
While the dough is fermenting, it is critical to allow for adequate resting time (as I indicated above, this should occur twice).
In your steamer, start by filling it with cold water.
As the temperature gradually rises, it assists the dough in growing smoothly and evenly. When the water begins to boil, lower the heat. Take note of how much time has passed since you started cooking. Not less than 15 minutes, is my recommendation.
- When you add water or stock to the pork, you will get a juicy filling. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out my post “How to make superb dumpling fillings.” In a small amount of oil, quickly stir fry the carrots and onion. This will enhance their flavor while also providing a soft texture to the filling.
For the dough
- Making a juicy filling out of a pound of pork by adding water or stock In my piece “How to create amazing dumpling fillings,” I provide further information on this subject. In a small amount of oil, quickly stir fry the carrot and onion. This will improve the flavor of the filling while also giving it a soft consistency.
For the filling
- The addition of water/stock to the pork will result in a juicy filling. More information on this topic can be found in my blog post “How to make great dumpling fillings”
- In a small amount of oil, briefly stir fry the carrots and onion. This will enhance their flavor while also providing a soft texture to the filling
Prepare the dough
- In a large mixing basin, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and oil. Pour in the water a little at a time while stirring
- Combine all of the ingredients and knead with your hands until a very smooth dough forms (see note 4)
- Allow to rise until doubled in size in a warm location (this may take between 40 minutes and 1.5 hours depending on the ambient temperature)
- Cover with a moist tea towel and set aside.
Mix the filling
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt, and Sichuan pepper/Chinese five-spice
- Mix well. Swirl constantly while gradually adding more water/stock until there is no more liquid visible
- In a small amount of oil, quickly stir fry grated carrot and onion until softened. Combine with the meat and coriander leaves
- Cook until the pork is done.
Shape the buns(Please refer to the video below)
- Knead the dough until it returns to its original shape. It should be divided into 12 equal halves. Each component should be rolled into a disk-like wrapping. Placing some filling in the centre of a wrapper and folding it into a bao shape is simple and quick. Allow for another 15 minutes or so of resting time for all of the constructed buns.
Steam the buns
- Place the buns in the steamer basket (with parchment paper below each one) and set the steamer to high (see note 5). Separate the buns from one another by 2cm on either side of the steamer. Cooking with cold water over a high heat is a good way to get started. As soon as the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15-18 minutes at a low heat.
Serving with a dipping sauce
- Serve them warm, either on their own or with a dipping sauce (see my postSix dumpling sauces for inspiration)
- Cooked buns can be stored in the freezer. Place in the refrigerator for 8 minutes to defrost, then steam 8 minutes to warm up, or steam for 15 minutes without defrosting.
Baked buns can be stored in the freezer. Place in the refrigerator for 8 minutes to defrost, then steam 8 minutes to warm up, or steam 15 minutes without defrosting.
Steamed Bao Buns
Detailed instructions and photographs on how to create the ideal, soft, and fluffy steamed bao buns. To create the ultimate handmade bao buns, follow these tips and methods. They’ll be excellent for stuffing with your favorite fillings. In this section, you will find methods for steaming bao buns on the stovetop and in a steam oven.
It was about 2004 that David Chang introduced his version of Pork Belly Buns to the menu of his restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York, and no one could have imagined that the modest bao buns would go on to become an international gastronomic sensation. Even I made a point of getting a table at Momofuku every time I was in New York, no matter how lengthy the line was. His concept of transforming a normal bao bun into a sandwich or hamburger of sorts, packed with delicious pork belly and a simple garnish of pickled cucumbers, was absolutely brilliant to me.
Homemade Bao Buns
Bao buns were not to be found in Zurich’s shops or restaurants (and this is still the case in 2019! ), so I set out to make my own using a recipe from David Chang’s cookbook, Momofuku, to make steamed bao buns from scratch. After a few years of experimentation (David Chang’s bao bun recipe yields almost 50 buns! ), I settled on the recipe below, which I use on a regular basis throughout the year.
Why This Recipe Works
- Bao buns are a steamed bun that is light, fluffy, and pillowy in texture, and they are ideal for stuffing with your favorite ingredients. Make the bao buns anyway you like using this recipe
- It’s all up to you. This recipe may be used to make bao buns that are filled or stuffed. Once the buns have been rolled out, all that is left to do is fill and shape them before allowing them to rise for the second time according to the instructions. After they’ve been cooked, the bao buns may be frozen and then warmed in the steamer
Buns are traditionally circular in form, with a filling that is either char siu or minced pork mixed with slices of Chinese lap cheong sausage and boiled egg. Char siu pork is the most common filling, although other fillings are also popular. Steamed buns can also be cooked simple, that is, without any filling, to serve as an appetizer. Traditionally, in my family, we prepare simple steamed buns, which are circular in form and tied at the top with a twisted knot, to go with roast duck on Sundays.
Bao Buns Recipe
If you’re lucky, your local Asian grocer may have pre-made bao buns in the freezer section of their establishment. It is possible that this simple bao bun recipe will need some planning and preparation, but you will be rewarded with delectably fluffy handmade buns that will thrill everyone who tries them.
How to Make Bao Buns
Bao buns are made with both yeast and baking powder, which helps the buns rise to their full potential. Begin by combining all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing basin and mixing well. Then, using a measuring jug, pour the heated water and oil into the pan. The water should be slightly warmer than lukewarm in order to aid in the activation of the yeast, but it should not be boiling hot.
The dough for my bao buns is made in my electric stand-mixer; however, you may certainly create everything by hand if you so choose. Using a dough hook on a medium speed, incorporate the liquid components into the dry ones. If you are using a different type of flour than that specified in the recipe, you may require more or less liquid than that specified. You just need a small amount of liquid to bring everything together into a soft dough.
Next, with the mixer still running on medium speed, knead the dough until it is soft and smooth to the touch. This should take around 10 minutes with a stand mixer on medium speed, or approximately 5 minutes if done manually.
After the dough has become soft and smooth, I recommend kneading it by hand for a few more minutes on the kitchen counter top to finish it off. In order to determine whether the dough is ready, press your finger into the dough and make an indent in the dough. If the dough bounces back, it indicates that it is ready. If the indent is still visible, you will need to knead the dough a little longer. Place the ball of dough back into the (clean) mixing bowl and set the bowl somewhere warm for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size, to rise and expand.
As soon as the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead it by hand for around 5 minutes to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough. Afterwards, roll out the dough until it is approximately one centimeter in height. Rub a little amount of oil onto the surface of the dough with your hands. Using this method, you will be able to avoid the dough from sticking together later on while shaping the buns.
To cut out rounds from the dough, use an 8 cm (3 inch) diameter cookie cutter. Continue to re-roll the dough as needed until you have used up all of the dough in the recipe.
Place the rounds on a small sheet of baking paper – I like to use plain white cupcake wrappers that I flatten with a rolling pin to make them easier to handle. This saves me the time and effort of having to cut a sheet of baking paper into little pieces before using it. Then, using a rolling pin, carefully flatten the dough to make the bun shape. Repeat with the remaining rounds.
Set everything on a big baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and set it aside somewhere warm for approximately 30 minutes to let the buns to rise again and become more puffed. It should have taken around 10 minutes for the bao buns to rise somewhat and puff out a little.
In the meantime, heat the steamer on the stovetop (see notes below). The buns should be steamed in batches for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are fluffy and soft, and the insides are cooked through.
How to Proof Dough
The yeast in the dough must be activated in a warm atmosphere in order for the dough to rise properly. You might try one of the following suggestions if you don’t have a warm spot in your house:
- In the oven with the oven light turned on (this is only applicable to certain ovens)
- On the lowest shelf of the oven, there is a baking plate filled with boiling water. Use around 1 litre (4 cups) of water, then top it up after approximately 1 hour of cooking
- Cook at a low temperature of around 25-40°C (77-104°F) in the oven or a steamer oven
How to Steam Bao Buns
- Using a bamboo steamer to steam bao buns is a terrific way to save money, and Asian grocery shops usually have a big selection of sizes available at reasonable costs. Aside from the low cost, another advantage of bamboo steamers is that they are attractive when used to serve food at the table. I recommend that you get the largest steamer that will fit your saucepan and stovetop. In order for it to work properly, the bamboo steamer must be the same size as the saucepan you are using below it. To illustrate this point further, if you are using a bamboo steamer with a diameter of 12 inches, your saucepan should likewise be 12 inches in diameter
- If you plan to make bao buns (or even dumplings) on a regular basis, I recommend purchasing at least two steamer baskets that can be stacked on top of each other to reduce cooking (and waiting) time
- If you plan to make dumplings, I recommend purchasing at least two steamer baskets that can be stacked on top of each other. For those who are serious about making bao buns, I recommend investing in a multi-tiered metal or stainless steel steamer, which can be found at most Asian grocery stores or online. These are also available in a variety of sizes and have the added benefit of being dishwasher-safe
- Fill the saucepan about one-third of the way with boiling water, and then lay the steamer baskets on top of that. Place the saucepan with the steamer baskets on the stove over a low-medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. There is a chance that the bao buns will overcook or even turn soggy if you steam them at a high enough temperature
- However, if you steam them at a lower temperature, the buns will be OK. Place the bao buns in each steamer basket, leaving enough space between them for them to rise and expand during cooking. Cover and steam for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until the buns have risen and are light and fluffy when opened.
Tips For Making Bao Buns
- Plain flour (all-purpose flour) is fine for this recipe, since the cornflour (cornstarch) will aid in giving the buns a light and fluffy texture due to the use of cornstarch. It is not necessary for the buns to be a blinding white as those available in Chinese restaurants
- Nonetheless, the taste and texture should remain the same. To get the pure white appearance of buns found in Chinese restaurants, I recommend using bleached flour, which can be obtained at Asian grocery shops or online. In order for the dough to rise properly, it must be kneaded for the necessary period of time. It is possible that failing to knead the dough adequately can result in buns that are blotchy in appearance (but still taste delicious), and this is due to not mixing the ingredients together well enough and/or failing to remove all of of the air bubbles from the dough. To prevent the buns from becoming soggy, steam them on a low-medium heat until they are just cooked through.
How to Make Steamed Bao Buns with a Steam Oven
The following methods should be followed for proving the dough as well as steaming the bao buns in an electric steam oven or a combi-steam oven:
- First Proof: Place the dough in a large basin that has been gently greased and let aside for 30 minutes. Use some cling film or a disposable bowl cover to keep the contents of the bowl safe. For approximately 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size, proof the dough in the steam oven/combi-steam oven at 40°C / 104°F
- First, form the bao buns and set them on a tiny piece of baking paper each, then transfer them to a big tray that will fit inside your steam oven/combi-steam oven. Second, proof the bao buns. I can put a big sheet pan into my steam oven, which will adequately accommodate 12 bao buns. There is no need to wrap the buns with plastic wrap. Proof the bao buns in their formed forms at 40°C / 104°F for around 30 minutes, or until the buns have swelled up significantly
- Steaming the Bao Buns: Remove the tray of bao buns from the steam oven/combi-steam oven and place it on a baking sheet. Raise the temperature to 100°C / 212°F if necessary. As soon as the steam oven/combi-steam oven has reached the desired temperature, return the tray of bao buns to the oven and steam them for 10-12 minutes.
Freezing Bao Buns
Bao buns are ideally consumed fresh, and as soon as they are steamed, if at all possible. Bao buns can be preserved in zip-lock bags in the freezer for up to two months if they are not used immediately. To reheat frozen bao buns, just steam them for about 5 minutes, or until they are thoroughly warmed through.
What to Serve with Bao Buns
One of my favorite ways to serve bao buns is to stuff them with char siu pork and pickled vegetables that I make in a flash.
For more information, please refer to my recipe for Sticky Pork Bao Buns. Other excellent fillings for bao buns include the following: Braised Short Ribs with Asian Flavors Pickled Chillies, Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork), and other condiments Print
Steamed Bao Buns
When I make bao buns, one of my favorite ways to serve them is with char siu pork and fast pickled veggies. For complete instructions, please visit my recipe for Sticky Pork Bao Buns. In addition to the above, the following are excellent bao bun fillings: Short Ribs with Asian Braising Sauce Pickled Chillies with Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) Print
- The resting time is 2 hours, the preparation time is 1 hour, the cooking time is 10 minutes, and the total time is 1 hour 10 minutes. This recipe makes 12-16 buns. Recipe Type:Bread
- Cooking Method:Stovetop
Instructions on how to create the ideal, soft and fluffy steamed bao buns, complete with images. To create the ultimate handmade bao buns, follow these tips and methods. They’ll be excellent for stuffing with your favorite fillings. There are instructions for steaming the bao buns on the stovetop and in a steam oven included in the recipe.
- With step-by-step images, learn how to create the ideal, soft and fluffy steamed bao buns. To create the ultimate handmade bao buns, follow these tips and tactics. They’ll be excellent for stuffing with your favorite fillings! There are directions for steaming the bao buns on the stovetop and in a steam oven included in this cookbook.
In order to prepare the buns
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand-mixer (if using), combine all of the dry ingredients
- Mix well. Using a measuring jug, pour the heated water and oil into the pan. The water should be somewhat warmer than lukewarm in order to aid in the activation of the yeast, but it should not be boiling hot. Mixing the liquid components into the dry ingredients using the dough hook at a medium speed is recommended. If you are using a different sort of flour than what is specified in the recipe, you may require more or less liquid than is specified in it. Continue kneading the dough on medium speed until the dough becomes soft and smooth to the touch once you’ve achieved a sticky dough consistency. This should take around 10 minutes with a stand mixer on medium speed, or approximately 5 minutes if done manually. After the dough has become soft and smooth, I recommend kneading it by hand for a few more minutes on the kitchen counter top until it is elastic. Replacing the ball of dough in the (now-empty) mixing bowl
- Use some cling film or a disposable bowl cover to keep the bowl covered. Placing the bowl in a warm location for 60 to 90 minutes will allow the dough to rise and double in size.
In order to form the buns
- To remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough, punch it back and knead it by hand for around 5 minutes after it has doubled its size. Then, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is approximately 1 cm in height. Rub a little oil into the surface of the dough with your hands
- To cut out rounds from the dough, use an 8 cm (3 inch) cookie cutter. Re-roll the dough as many times as necessary. Place these circles on a small piece of baking paper – I prefer to use simple white cupcake wrappers that I flatten with a rolling pin – and set them aside to dry. Fold each circle in half and then gently flatten the dough with a rolling pin to make the bun shape
- Set everything on a big baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and set it aside somewhere warm for approximately 30 minutes to let the buns to rise again and become more puffed. After this period of time, the bao buns should have puffed up a little.
In order to steam the buns
- In the meantime, prepare the steamer on the stove (see the Kitchen Notes section below). Puff and soften the buns by steaming them in batches for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are completely cooked through
- Serve the buns as soon as possible.
The many types of yeast* Please keep in mind that there is a difference between instant yeast (also known as quick dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) anddried yeast while baking (also calledactive dry yeast). When in doubt about the sort of yeast you have, look for instructions on how to utilize it on the package. If you use instant yeast, you may add it right to the flour mixture without having to wait for it to activate first. If you don’t have instant yeast, I would recommend using the same quantity of dried yeast as you would with instant yeast.
- Combine the dry ingredients in the recipe above with the yeast mixture and vegetable oil, and mix well.
- Although the buns will be a pale yellow in color, they will taste delicious.
- INSTRUCTIONS FOR STEAMING BAO BUNS* Place the steamer basket (whether bamboo or other material) directly on top of a saucepan that has the same size and shape.
- ***Place the steamer basket on top of the saucepan.
- Place the lid on top of the steamer basket and close the lid tightly.
- How to Make Bao Buns in a Steam Oven*First Proof: Cover the bowl with cling film or a re-usable bowl cover to prevent the buns from drying out.
- There is no need to wrap the buns with plastic wrap.
- * Preparing the Bao Buns by steaming them: Take the tray of bao buns out of the steam oven/combi-steam oven and set it aside.
- As soon as the steam oven/combi-steam oven has reached the desired temperature, return the tray of bao buns to the oven and steam them for 10-12 minutes.
To reheat frozen steamed buns, place them in a stovetop steamer for approximately 5 minutes, or until they are completely warmed through. CONVERSIONSIf you need to convert from cups to grams, or vice versa, you may use this handyConversion Chart for Fundamental Ingredients.
This recipe was first published on May 17, 2019 and has since been updated. More detailed recipe notes have been added to the original version.
How to make Bao
Originally published on May 17, 2019, this recipe has been updated. More detailed recipe details have been added to the original post.
- Videos on how to roll and shape bao
- A bao recipe What is a bao bun, and where can I get one? Is it possible to make vegan bao? What is the best way to steam bao? Is it possible to freeze bao? What is the best way to reheat frozen bao? What is the best way to keep steamed buns warm? What’s wrong with my bao? It’s not white. Is it possible to produce wholewheat bao?
A version of this recipe was adapted from School of Wok By Jeremy Pang.
- The following ingredients: 420g (3 1/2 cups) plain white flour (all-purpose flour), plus more flour for kneading
- 2 1/4 tsp (1/4 oz or 7g) quick bake yeast (instant yeast)
- 2 1/4 tsp (1/4 oz or 7g) instant yeast
- Baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 250 g (1 cup) warm water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus enough for the bowl and brushing
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
Make the doughfirst rise:
- The following ingredients: 420g (3.5 cups) plain white flour (all-purpose flour), plus more flour for kneading
- 1/4 cup (1/4 cup or 7g) instant yeast
- 2 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 cup or 7g) easy bake yeast
- Baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 250 g (1 cup) warm water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus enough for the bowl and brushing
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
Shape the bunssecond rise:
- Divide the dough into 20 pieces that are equal in size. Toss each one of them into a ball and sprinkle them with more flour as required to keep them from sticking to the work surface
- Make 20 pieces of baking paper, each about 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide
- Assemble the squares as follows: Take each ball of dough and flatten it out into an oval approximately 3.5 by 4.5 inches in size, then cut it into squares (9 x 12 cm). Vegetable oil should be lightly brushed onto the surface of each oval before baking it. Each oval should be folded in half to form a half-moon shape. Place the individual squares of baking paper on top of the molds. Allow them to rise for 20 minutes on your counter to allow them to get a little puffy
Steam the buns:
- Gentle insert a few of the raised buns into your bamboo steamer – I can fit three buns in each tier of my steamer, for a total of six buns. Make cautious not to squash the buns when you do this, so drop them into the pan by grabbing the corners of the baking paper square with your fingers. Leaving room for expansion is also important since the buns will rise even higher after they are steamed
- Be careful not to let them touch one other or the rims of your steamer or they will cling together. Place the remaining raised buns on a baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator to prevent them from overproofing while the first batch steams
- Fill a broad saucepan halfway with water, about 1 inch (3 cm) deep. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then drop the bamboo steamer into the pot and cover it with the lid. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the buns steam for 6 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Allow it to cool somewhat before removing it from the steamer so that you can steam the next batch
- You may need to top up the water to keep the steamer from running out of water (you may take the dough right from the fridge, there is no need to let it warm up beforehand)
- Eat the buns while they’re still warm! You may reheat them once more by steaming them for about 2 minutes longer if they have cooled down.
- Gentle insert a couple of the raised buns into your bamboo steamer – I can fit 3 buns in each tier of my steamer, for a total of 6 buns in mine. Make cautious not to squash the buns when you do this, so drop them into the pan by gripping the corners of the baking paper square with your hands instead of your fingers. Leaving room for expansion is also important since the buns will rise even higher when they are steamed
- Be careful that they do not contact one other or the sides of your steamer or they will stick together. Make a baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator to prevent overproofing while the first batch of buns is steaming
- Put about an inch (3 cm) of water in a large saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over a medium heat, then drop the bamboo steamer into the pot and cover it with the lid to keep the steam contained. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow the buns to steam for 6 minutes. (See Notes) After allowing the dough to cool somewhat, remove it from the steamer to make way for the next batch
- You may need to top up the water to keep it from running out (you can use dough that has been refrigerated rather than room temperature)
- Warm buns should be consumed! You may reheat them once more by steaming them for about 2 minutes longer if they have cooled down.
- If you don’t have easy bake/instant yeast, you may substitute melted butter or lard in lieu of the vegetable oil if you want a softer outcome. If you don’t have easy bake/instant yeast, you can substitute a dry yeast mix in place of the water in the dough. In a large mixing basin, combine the yeast and warm water
- Leave aside for 5 minutes to allow the mixture to bubble up before pouring into the flour, salt, sugar, and oil mixture.
What is a bao bun?
Recipe borrowed from School of Wok (Jeremy Pang); you may substitute melted butter or lard in lieu of the vegetable oil if desired; you can replace half of the water in the dough with warm milk for a little softer outcome; if you don’t have quick bake/instant yeast: In a large mixing basin, whisk together the yeast and warm water until foamy, then pour into the bowl with the flour, salt, sugar, and oil; allow to rise for 5 minutes before transferring to a baking sheet.
Where can I buy bao?
Although I enjoy cooking from scratch, there are times when I simply want something quick and fast, and frozen bao are a blessing in this situation. I get frozen bao in bulk from the large chest freezers in my neighborhood Chinese food store. They go by a number of different names, including ‘gua bao’, ‘double slice bun’, ‘Hirata bun’, and ‘Taiwan burger bun’, among others. If you want to manufacture them yourself, though, continue reading.
Can I make vegan bao?
Yes! Unless otherwise specified, the recipe below is vegan (with non-vegan substitutions available if desired). Because I only use water and vegetable oil in this recipe, it is quite simple to prepare. In addition, they are just as fluffy and soft as the ones made with milk and cream. In addition, I have a few of vegan filling options: –Bao with Grilled Asparagus–Bao with Gochujang Tofu
How do you steam bao?
When I lived in Leeds, I bought a 2-layer bamboo steamer from a Korean grocery, which I still have. Online or at bigger Korean, Chinese, or Japanese food stores are good places to look for them. In the absence of a bamboo steamer, a metal steamer will suffice; however, you will not be able to fit as many buns into it as you would with a bamboo steamer (as they are stackable). In order to properly steam bamboo, set the steamer into a large saucepan or pot that it can fit comfortably inside. Fill the pan halfway with water; I normally fill it to about an inch deep and top it off as required while steaming to keep it from drying out.
The most crucial is that the water level does not rise over the base of the steamer, since you do not want the water to come into direct touch with whatever is in the steamer.
Cover with the lid and steam for 20-30 minutes.
Allow the buns to steam for 5-6 minutes before removing the cover to prevent the buns from being overcooked. I use a pair of kitchen tongs to carefully remove each layer of the bamboo steamer from the pan in order to avoid being burned by the steam.
Can you freeze bao and can you reheat frozen ones?
When I make bao, I normally prepare a large batch so that I can freeze the majority of them for later use as quick meals. To accomplish this, steam all of the bao per to package directions. Once they are all lined up on a baking sheet, leave the small paper square on the bottom of each bun so that it may be used to warm them later. Freeze the buns for 1-2 hours on a baking sheet before transferring them to a resealable bag. Make a note of the date and label them for future reference. You may reheat the bao straight from the freezer; simply place a couple into your steamer and steam for 5-8 minutes, or until the bao is heated in the center.
How do you keep steamed buns warm?
Keep them steaming in the bamboo steamer with the cover well closed. They should remain heated in this position for around 10 minutes. Cooking all of the bao ahead of time and reheating them one at a time by steaming for 1-2 minutes before serving them is my preferred method when serving them for supper. As a result, you will always have hot ones to eat.
Why are my bao not white?
The addition of baking powder/bicarbonate of soda to the dough may result in the dough being yellow after it has been steamed. If you don’t properly knead the baking powder into the dough, you may notice that the buns will have small yellow spots on them (this is only an aesthetic issue; the buns will still taste delicious). If you use unbleached flour, which is what most people in the UK use, your buns will not be as white as they may be, which is why they are yellow. If you’re truly wanting that pure white appearance, you may purchase bleached white flour from various Chinese grocery chains.
Can I make wholewheat bao?
Yes! Simply use wholemeal (wholewheat) bread flour for one-third of the flour in the following recipe. They’ll be a little denser and chewier than usual, but they’ll still be wonderful. The use of 50% or 100% wholemeal flour would result in buns that are overly thick and lack fluffiness; this is something I would avoid.