Saturday, 21 July 2012

How to make Chinese Bao - Pao - Buns

I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe on how to make Chinese Bao (Buns). Since a treasure of knowledge and a walking dictionary of recipes are staying with me for a short while, I decided to 'interview' my mother-in-law and blog about one of her recipes.

This should be called mini char siew bao or mini peanut bao.

Pardon my choppy English as I translated everything from spoken Chinese. :-)

Makes about 10 to 12 bao (small Chinese buns)
Bao Flour (Blue Key brand)
Sugar (3 teaspoons)
Plain Water (warm)
Baking Powder - double action (not sure how to say this properly as I seldom bake)

Open the yeast packet - add one small cup of water to one teaspoon of yeast - let the yeast dissolve (BM: cair) first - don't put sugar first. Only after the yeast dissolved, add - white sugar, about 3 teaspoons -

TIP: Wait till the yeast granules become fully dissolved before adding white sugar - it is fully dissolved when it becomes liquid/liquified.

After fully dissolved and you add sugar, shake it a bit and it will dissolve. Stir if needed.

Baking Powder (double action) add about half a teaspoon. Stir the baking powder into the yeast.

Add 300g of Bao Flour
Knead the dough - add oil - 30ml oil - cooking oil. Make sure the cooking is not too yellow to preserve the whiteness of the Bao skin. If too sticky, dab your fingers in the flour, not too much, just dab them for easier kneading. 15-20 minutes of kneading until balanced and soft and no longer sticky tohands.

Roll into a long dough.

Divide the dough into 10 or 12 parts, shape them into round shapes, depending on how big you want your bao to be. Let them ferment - if yeast is active, it will be faster - if the yeast is not as active, it may be slow. The size should double when it fully ferment. Don't wait too long or else the fermentation will 'overflow' and it will be very unsightly.

Peanut Filling
Peanut - fry the peanuts, blend it till it is fine, add salt (as needed not too much), oil (a little bit, just to make it sticky), Sugar, NO WATER - please DO NOT ADD WATER or else it will be too watery and not nice.

Meat Filling
Mince meat, meat with a little bit of fat, Five Spices Powder, Sesame Oil, Sugar, Salt, Dark Soy Sauce, Chicken Essense. Fry for awhile (till cooked), add a little bit of water then marinate it for awhile, add corn flour, but don't make it too dry, leave some 'water' or moisture on it. Make it just sticky enough, not dry. Let it cool down. After it cools down, the filling should be drier. Hence when frying must make sure it is moist enough.

Roll the individual round doughs. Add the filling into the middle of the dough. After shaping the buns, wait for it ferment and rise some more. The size should increase by about 30 to 50%. DO NOT WAIT too long or let it rise to too big a size, or else it will shrink and become unsightly (wrinkly).

This is a very important step - there should be two stages of fermentation (rising) of the dough in this recipe.

Steam for 15 minutes. Off the fire. Don't open the cover of the steamer immediately. Let the steamer cool down a bit for about. This is to prevent the over-risen doughs from shrinking too badly.

Practice makes perfect. This is all based on the estimation and experience of my Mother-in-Law. Happy trying!

The ingredients in pictures:

The Bao Flour

FIRST, follow the instruction in making the dough:

The Dough

Plain warm water (cooked and filtered water)


Rolling the kneaded dough into a long roll before dividing them into 10 parts.

Next, after the first 'fermentation', roll the rounded smaller parts dough and add in the fillings.

Serve while hot. Keep in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness.
Steam them and it will be good to eat as hot snacks or breakfast.

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