How to Make Soft Black Bao Buns

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For an extra twist, I experimented by adding activated charcoal powder in the wet ingredients of the bao bun dough. The black color provides a dramatic and appetizing backdrop to this dish.

The procedure for making these soft black bao buns is the same as my original white bao buns. If you want a visual guide on how to make these buns, I posted on my YouTube channel the easy to follow the step-by-step recipe.

Fillings for steamed bao buns

Please refer to my page – Common Baking and Cooking Conversions if you’re using other baking measurements.

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For 6 servings of Black bao buns, you will need:

  • 40 grams (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) lukewarm water
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) lukewarm milk
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal powder (or squid ink)
  • 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

Procedure:

Make the dough

  1. In a bowl, combine warm milk, active yeast, oil, and 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk to let yeast and sugar dissolve, then let it sit about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, dissolve a teaspoon of charcoal powder in lukewarm water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Proof and shape

  1. Take the dough out and form like 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 a triple size of about 2 hours.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cover the buns with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, line your steamer with parchment paper or a coffee filter. Spray some water on the coffee filter to prevent the dough from sticking. After 30 minutes, place your bao dough in the prepared steamer.

Steam Bao

  1. 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 bao’s—cover and steam for 8 to 12 minutes on low-medium heat.
  2. When they are done cooking, tilt the lid a tiny bit for slow air circulation about 2 minutes before open the lid.
  3. You can serve this bao as a side or make a sandwich. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you don’t have bao flour, you can just 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. 
 

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