How To Make the Perfect Light and Fluffy Steamed Bao Buns

Chinese Steamed Bao Buns

Renowned for being light and fluffy, the perfect bao should be light, round and soft. Traditional Chinese steamed buns are round in shape with an enclosed filling, usually with Char Siu roast pork or a traditional ground pork mixture with slices of Chinese sausage (lap cheong) and boiled egg. They also come in a plain form without any filling, called Mántóu [馒头] which originates from China. 

The folded-over version has become increasingly popular, from street food to being served in upscale restaurants. The buns open up and are filled with a variety of ingredients, similar to a burger or sandwich. It is commonly filled with pork, however due to its popularity, the filling choices that people have come up with have become much more diverse. Here we have a fool-proof recipe on how to make the perfect steamed baos, and the choice of filling is completely up to you!

The equipment you'll need:

  • Steamer
  • Free-standing mixer
  • Bowls
  • Measuring spoons
  • Scale
  • Damp cloth

The dry ingredients:

The wet ingredients:

  • 50g milk
  • 200g - 250g warm water (depending on how humid your room feels- if the air feels very dry you’ll want to add a little more water, but if it is very humid, a little less water is required)
  • 25g vegetable or sunflower oil

The Method:

1. Using a free-standing mixer with a dough hook attachment (if available), pour in the measured out dry ingredients.

2. Mix the wet ingredients together into a measuring jug. Then slowly pour the liquid into the mixer while kneading on a low speed for around 2 minutes until all the water is mixed into the flour. Once combined, turn the speed up to high speed for a further 2 minutes until the dough has a smooth-yet- tacky feel to it.

3. Once the dough has been well kneaded, dust with 2 tablespoons of flour, scraping off any additional dough on the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a rough ball, and then coat lightly with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave aside in a warm, preferably moist, draft free location (like inside a room temperature oven) for 1 – 1.5 hours.

4. Once the dough has doubled in size, you can then shape it into whatever shape you wish before steaming.

5. Steam times will vary between 8 – 15 minutes depending on the shape and size of your finished buns (the thinner the bun, the shorter the steaming time).

6. Fill with any filling of your choice and enjoy!


Chinese Steamed Bao Bun

Original recipe from School of Wok.