Bao is a light, fluffy, pillowy steamed buns and today I’m going to show you how to make it all at home, from scratch. I also posted on our YouTube channel the easy to follow the step-by-step recipe. And if you want to add some twist to this recipe, I have also now shared my Black Bao buns recipe here. 😃
To convert from cups to grams, and vice versa, please see this handy Conversion chart for basic ingredients.
How to steam Bao Buns
- A bamboo steamer is greater for steaming bao buns and some Asian grocery stores tend to stock a large variety of sizes at inexpensive prices.
- The bamboo steamer should be the same size as your saucepan you will use underneath.
- Fill the saucepan about 1/3 full with boiling water and place the bamboo steamer on top.
- Steam the Bao buns over low-medium heat because if you steam the bao at too high temperature, there is a risk that the buns might overcook or they might even become soggy.
Tips for making Bao Buns
- Plain all-purpose flour works fine in this recipe but your bao will not be brilliant white like those found in a Chinese restaurant, but the taste and texture should still be the same.
- For snowy white buns, I recommend using bleached flour which you can find in any Asian grocery store.
- Steam the buns on low-medium heat so that the buns do not overcook and become soggy.
These are pretty small Bao buns, so three bao buns are probably enough for dinner. 😊
Fillings for steamed bao buns
- Chicken Katsu with katsu sauce
- Fish Balls with a drizzle of the chili dipping sauce
- Pork Asado with Asado sauce
- Slow-Roasted Pork Belly with Crackling Rind
- Crispy Tempura Shrimp
How to store homemade Bao Buns
Bao Buns are best eaten fresh and as soon as they are steamed. Any leftover can be stored in zip-lock bags or airtight containers and store in the freezer. To reheat, simply steam the frozen bao buns for about 5 minutes to warm through completely.
You will need:
- 40 grams (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) lukewarm water
- 60 grams (1/4 cup) lukewarm milk
- 3 grams (1 tsp) instant dry yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
- 26 grams (2 tbsp) sugar
- 14 grams (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 175 g all-purpose flour or blenched flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
Make the dough
- In a bowl, combine warm water, milk, active yeast, oil, and 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk to let yeast and sugar dissolve, then let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine flour, 1 tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer. But you could also make this with your hand if you prefer.
- Make a well and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients mixture. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes or until dough is elastic and really soft but not sticky.
Prove and shape
- Take the dough out and form a ball. Grease the mixing bowl with some vegetable oil and place the dough into the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it becomes triple size, about 2 hours.
- Place the raised dough on a floured working surface and roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough using a cookie cutter or wine glass. If you have some leftover bao dough, let it rest again for 30 minutes. Roll it out and cut the dough again.
- Brush the tops with oil or use a baking spray and gently fold each piece of dough in half as a half-moon shape. Then gently press each bao with a roller. Watch my video on how I did this.
- Cover the buns with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line your steamer with parchment paper or a coffee filter. Spray some water on a coffee filter to prevent the dough from sticking. After 30 minutes, place your bao dough in the prepared steamer.
- While waiting for the dough to rise, bring water to boil on a wok or steamer pot. Carefully place the steamer with the bao on top of the boiling water wok or pot. Ensure water is not touching the baos—cover and steam for 8 to 12 minutes on low-medium heat.
- When they are done cooking, tilt the lid a tiny bit for slow air circulation about 2 minutes before open the lid.
- You can serve this bao as a side or make a sandwich. Enjoy!
- If you don’t have bao flour, you can use plain all-purpose flour for this recipe. While you can substitute all-purpose flour for bao flour, it is highly recommended to follow the type of flour required by the recipe to yield optimum results.
- Use warm/room temperature water instead of hot water.
- Whenever possible, it is always recommended to use weight measurements instead of measuring cups when weighing ingredients.