I grew up eating bao buns. They can be stuffed with many fillings such as sweet custard, minced pork, or char siu pork. The plain bao buns are already great to enjoy. When they are combined with various fillings, each one makes the taste an amazingly satisfied experience. Let's try make buns today.
Illustrated by @foodillustration.studio
Bao Buns Recipe
Bamboo Steamer Basket
for 8 servings
300g (2 cups) all purpose flour
60g (1/2 cup) corn starch
4g (1 teaspoon) instant yeast
2g (1/2 teaspoon) fine sea salt
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
190g (3/4 cup) whole milk
24g (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
To knead the dough, mix the dried ingredients together first. Next, add vegetable oil to the dried ingredients. Then pour milk slowly and start kneading. The dough is ready when it forms a smooth ball and nothing sticks to your hands or the mixing bowl.
Proof the dough in a warm area for 30 minutes.
Punch the dough after proofing to release air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
To shape each individual bun, knead the dough, roll it into a thin and long stick. Then roll it back in round shape. This process helps release all the bubbles in the dough so the buns can be smooth after steaming. Knead for a couple of minutes and form a smooth round ball. Place the bun on a square parchment paper before putting in the bamboo steamer, each bun stays 3 inches apart from the other.
Proof the buns again in a warm spot for only 20-30 minutes more. The total of proofing time should be around 1 hour in summer time. Over proofing may result in collapsed or shriveled buns.
To steam the buns, add 2 cups of water in a cooking pot. Turn on high heat and wait until the water starts to boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Place the bamboo steamer basket on the pot. Steam the buns for 15 minutes. Leave them covered for 10 minutes or more before opening the lid. * Be careful NOT to open the lid while steaming. Sudden temperature change might cause the buns to be shriveled.
A. Custard filling
2 egg yolks
30g (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar *taste while you cook the sauce and add more sugar if you like.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g (3/4 cup) whole milk
20g (2 tablespoons) corn starch
a little salt
B. Char Siu Pork
0,5lb (250g) pork belly
4 - 6 tablespoons Char Siu Sauce (Chinese Barbecue Sauce) * you can buy this sauce at Asian market.
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
Soy sauce, sugar, sriracha (optional adding depending on your taste)
Instructions to make fillings:
A. Custard filling
In a small mixing bowl, mix egg yolks with sugar, vanilla extract, corn starch and little salt.
In a saucepan, add milk, turn on high heat to warm up the milk. Turn off heat before boiling.
Add the egg yolks mixture in the hot milk. Whisk a little to combine them.
Turn on medium heat, whisk continuously until the sauce gets thick.
Wait until it cools down, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before putting in the buns.
B. Char Siu Pork filling
Marinate the pork with 2 - 3 tablespoons char siu sauce for at least 2 hours or over night. Bake at 350F (180C) for 30 minutes. If you use air fryer, cook at 370F in 20-25 minutes.
Chop the char siu pork into small cubes.
In a saucepan, add the rest of the char siu sauce, sesame oil, 4 tablespoons of water. Turn on high heat. Add the chopped char siu pork in the pan, cook for a couple of minutes to thicken the sauce. Tase while you cook and add little more soy sauce/sugar/sriracha if needed.
Add chopped scallion at the end and turn off heat. Let it cools down to room temperature before putting in the buns.
Instructions to put filling in the buns:
Roll the buns out so it is thin outside and thick in the center.
Place the filling in the center. Be careful not to let the filling sauce touches the edges of the buns. It will be very messy and the buns will not be able to be tightened up.
Pinching the dough, then pressing it on the pinched edge unit the bao closes. Make sure to close the bun tightly so it will not be open up again after proofing and steaming.