Steamed Bao Buns are small semi-circular white buns with a horizontal fold that could be opened up and filled with a variety of ingredients. Fill these buns with your favorite fillings and these are perfect for appetizers and dinner.
Do you know Steamed Bao Buns? It was actually my first attempt at making Steamed Bao Buns. I must say that the recipe does not achieve the softest and fluffiest bao buns as I expected. A little adjustment is needed to make them fluffier, but for now, I am already satisfied with the result.
About Bao Buns
Bao buns or 包子 (baozi) literally means steamed buns. The buns are typically in small semi-circular and flat in form, with a horizontal fold that, when opened, gives the appearance that it has been sliced. The folded steamed buns could be opened up and filled with a variety of ingredients, just like a burger or sandwich.
These buns come with a variety of delicious fillings. They usually consist of a slice of meat and other condiments sandwiched between the steamed white dough. The fillings commonly use pork, however as the bao buns have become more popular worldwide, the fillings have become much more diverse. I filled mine with Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders with Kimchi Mayo Dressing. Check out my Chicken Kimchi Mayo Steamed Buns recipe.
How to Make Steamed Bao Buns
Let me tell you how I made my Steamed Bao buns step by step below.
1. Combine the ingredients
Start by measuring all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Then, measure the warm water and oil into a medium bowl. The water needs to be warm to help to activate the yeast.
Just for information that your Steamed Bao Buns will be yellowish in color unless because the flour is probably unbleached. For snowy white buns like those found in Chinese restaurants, I recommend using bleached flour.
2. Knead the dough
We need to knead the dough to create structure and strength in the dough. The floor is combined to form gluten, which is responsible for creating the elastic texture in the dough.
Kneading the dough can be performed using hands or with a dough hook in a stand mixer. Kneading for 10-12 minutes by hand or 8-10 minutes in a stand mixer are the general standards. I used my hands to knead the dough because I wanted to develop a sense for how the dough should look and feel during the kneading. It gives me a real feel for the transformation that takes place when the flour and water are combined.
To knead the dough using hands, fold the dough over and over on itself with your hands, pressing it against a tabletop and continuously working it until the dough is smooth and not sticky to your hand. You can also give a poke test to the dough to test if it is done or not. If the indentation fills back quickly, you are good to go. If it stays, continue kneading. Moreover, the kneaded dough should be stretchable into a thin sheet between your fingers to check if the gluten is well-developed.
Depending on the flour you have used, you might need more or less liquid than stated in the recipe. If you feel like the dough is too dry, you can add more water. Meanwhile, work out the dough longer or add as little of flour if the dough is too wet. You want just enough liquid to bring everything together into a dough.
3. Rest the dough
Once the dough is stretchy and smooth, place the dough into a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and put it somewhere warm for about 60-90 minutes for the dough to rise and double in size. Resting allows the gluten proteins to align themselves. It also gives the yeast time to eat up the broken down starches from the flour and expel carbon dioxide and alcohol.
4. Roll and shape
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand to release any air bubbles in the dough. Then, roll out the dough into 1 cm thickness.
After rolling, use a 10 cm (4-inch) cookie cutter to cut 12 rounds from the rolled dough. Put the rounds into small baking papers to ease the process of moving. Using a brush or finger, rub some oil onto the surface of the dough. Then, fold the dough into a semi-circular shape and press lightly the top with a rolling pin. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking together so that the cooked steamed bao buns could be easily opened and stuffed with fillings.
5. Rest the dough again
Put the folded buns onto a large tray and cover them with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest again for 30 minutes in a warm environment to rise before cooking. Meanwhile, preheat the steamer so that it is ready when the dough has risen.
6. Steam the buns
After the dough has risen and puffed slightly, put them into the preheated steamer. Do not forget to cover the steamer’s lid with a kitchen towel to catch the condensation before it drips to the dough. Your dough will look ugly and not smooth if it does happen. Steam the buns in several batches for 10-12 minutes each, or until they are puffy and soft.
7. How to store Steamed Bao Buns
I usually put the leftover Steamed Bao Buns into the freezer or refrigerator. Just pop them into your steamer for about 10 minutes until hot in the middle whenever you need them.
Now, I am ready to assemble my Chicken Kimchi Mayo Steamed Buns. Nyum.