Bao buns are a popular Chinese street food, they’re kind of like a Chinese sandwich, often filled with braised meat, or chicken. Its my observation that they’ve become increasingly popular in the west over the last 10 years.. no longer only available in Chinese food outlets but also in hipster food joints, burger bars and food trucks.
They are really made just like any bread recipe, except they are steamed instead of baked. There are also gluten free versions, however I have chosen to use wheat flour, which is the traditional way.
They make look and sound intimidating to make, having some experience with dough or baking will make this recipe easier to execute, however even with no experience you should be able to get a good result with a little concentration and determination.
I took a lot of pictures for this recipe, so that you have more of a visual reference for the recipe, I hope that this helps!
Are you ready to try my buns? 😛
Makes 8 buns
300g white flour
170g warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp/ 5g salt
1 tsp sugar
In a glass, mix the yeast, sugar, oil, salt and warm water. Leave for 5 minutes to sit.
Add the water mix to the bowl of flour and mix with a spoon until all the liquid is absorbed, then take it out onto a surface and begin to knead the dough, you want to knead it until it is smooth and elastic (around 5-8 minutes).
Place the kneaded dough back into the clean bowl, cover with 1/2 tsp of oil and cover with a damp cloth to prevent oxidisation. Leave it to prove (rise).
When the dough is about 1.5 times (or double) in size, take it out of the bowl and lightly degas the dough with your fingers. It will be nice and puffy like in the photo below.
Divide into 8 portions. Use your hands and the table to shape them into balls, they don’t need to be perfect balls.
Cover with a damp cloth again and leave them to rise for another 30 minutes.
With a little bit of flour (only if necessary) roll the balls out with a rolling pin into ovals. Then rub a bit of oil on the bottom part of the oval and fold it half, the oil prevents the buns from sticking after they are cooked.
Place as many as you can in your steamer (I used a chinese bamboo steamer and fit 3 on each layer), turn up the fire and heat until the water boils, turn off the fire and wait for 15 minutes (this is the final prove).
Re-start the fire and steam the buns for 10 minutes, begin the timer from when the water begins to boil.
When the timer is up take the steamer off the heat and let them cool down before opening the steamer, if you open the steamer to quickly the buns will shrink and be ruined!
Once they are cool, you can transfer them into a tupperware and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them! Simply heat them up by placing them for 1/2 minutes in your steamer.
I hope you found this recipe enlightening, I wanted to make it very visual to encourage as many of you as possible to give it a go!
Good luck and feel free to leave questions in the comments if you have any!