Homemade Bao Buns are something I never thought I would want to tackle but ended up enjoyed making them and of course, eating them 😊 Bao Buns are steamed buns that are soft and pillowy, very fluffy, and have a neutral flavor.  I would equate it to eating a piece of plain white bread.  They can be made sweet or savory by adding a filling or you can eat them on their own.  We filled ours with a teriyaki chicken mixture, but I think a pulled pork, ground beef, or chicken are great fillings when paired with the right sauce.  You can also go the sweet route and use jelly or jam, perhaps some butter with cinnamon and sugar.  Play around with the flavors!

I do not think they are hard to make but must admit….it did take me 2 tries.  The dough takes a little time to make because it needs time to rise.  This is where I was impatient and didn’t allow ample time.  The buns didn’t roll out properly and didn’t have the correct soft and airy texture.  I tried again, and had more patience, and it was a game changer.  Moral of the story is to be patient and don’t give up if they don’t work out the first time.  You might have better luck the second time around!

I want to walk you through how to make the actual Bao Buns but will leave the filling up to your imagination!

The recipe can be found here.

A link to the steamer basket I used can be found here.

Start by adding the warm water, warm milk, INSTANT yeast, and oil to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine.  When I say “warm” water and milk I mean the milk should be heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  It will be warm but not hot.  Same with the water.  You can run the tap until it’s warm but not hot to the touch.  I also want to call out that I use INSTANT yeast, not active-dry yeast.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and mix on low speed to slowly incorporate the ingredients.  Once a ball of dough starts to form, increase the speed to medium and knead for about 4 minutes.  The dough will be soft and stretchy but not stick to your fingers.

Remove the dough and place in a mixing bowl that is lightly oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise.  The dough should be about triple in size and take 2 – 2 ½ hours.  Remember, be patient!

Place the dough on the counter and roll into a large circle that’s about ¼-inch thick.  Use flour if needed, to prevent sticking, but try to limit the amount you use.  Use a cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out circles that are about 3 ½-inch in diameter.  I used a drinking glass because it was the closest to the size I wanted.  You should get about 14-16 rounds of dough.

Lightly spritz each with cooking spray.  Then, fold each in half and use your palm to lightly press down to hold the dough together (in the folded shape).  Repeat this step until all dough has been folded.

Line the steamer baskets with parchment paper and place the buns inside, evenly spaced.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  If you have circular parchment paper that fits in your steamer basket – bonus points!  If you don’t, simply cut a circle out to line the basket(s).  This is originally what I had to do and then I ended up ordering the correct size for my steamer basket so I wouldn’t have to cut out parchment paper next time 😊 I do suggest poking a few holes in the parchment paper (if it doesn’t have holes already) so the steam can get to the buns. You don’t need a lot, just a few will help.

Add water to your wok.  You don’t want the water in your wok to touch the steamer basket, so I suggest placing the basket in the wok, place your finger where the bottom of the basket is, then fill with water to BELOW your finger, about ½-inch.  Then, bring the water to a boil.  Once boiling, place the steamer basket in the wok.  Keep the cover on the steamer basket and steam for 10-12 minutes.  It’s hard to resist checking on the buns but you won’t want the steam to escape while cooking so again, be patient!  When done cooking, slightly vent the lid but do not take it off completely, for about 2 minutes.  This will allow the steam to escape and air to circulate.  After 2 minutes you can remove the lid completely.

You should have beautiful, pillowy, fluffy, warm buns.  You can serve as is or add your favorite filling.  Enjoy!

Any leftover buns should be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.  I think they are fine as leftovers.  Simple warm in the microwave and you are good to go.

The recipe can be found here.

A link to the steamer basket can be found here.

As mentioned previously, we filled ours with a chicken teriyaki mixture.  I used a rotisserie chicken, added some teriyaki sauce, and heated in a skillet on the stove until warmed through.  It was incredibly simple yet tasty!  And you don’t need a lot of filling for each bun.  They don’t hold a lot, so you don’t need to go overboard with the fillings.

Happy Cooking!

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