homemade bao 
 

Bao buns.jpg

These make the fluffiest little steam bun pockets and the dough can also be used to make BBQ pork buns. I have used them with my 'Twice cooked pork belly' recipe on the next page. You will need some sort of steamer to make these. I have brought large Chinese steaming baskets from the Asian supermarket relatively cheap, but if you don't have these, there are other methods of steaming using items you might just have at home - you can search for it online before you begin. 
 
Time: Prep 20mins | Proving 2 ½ hours | Steaming 15mins  
Makes: 12 bao  
 
For the buns 
1 cup warm water  
2 tablespoons caster sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I use the Edmonds brand)  
2 1/2 cups (370g) all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon canola oil  
 
To finish 
1 tablespoon sesame oil  
1 tablespoon canola oil  
12 x (12cm x 10cm) sheets of baking paper 
 
Mix the water and caster sugar together and then sprinkle over the yeast. Stir to combine and set aside in a warm spot and leave it until it gets frothy on top - approx.15mins.  

Combine the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Combine the oil with the yeast mixture and pour into the middle and mix well. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (knead for the right time so the buns are fluffy!), adding flour sparingly to prevent from sticking to your hands. This is a very soft dough, so it will be slightly sticky.  
 
Once the dough is smooth, take a clean large bowl and rub 1 teaspoon around the bottom and put the dough in then flip it over so there is now oil on the bottom and top of the dough. Cover with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in that warm spot again until it has doubled in size. This can take 1-2 hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a surface and knead lightly, then divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Gather each portion into a ball and leave to prove for a further 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour and flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to form a circular shape. Do not flatten out too much or they won't get that puffy look, about an 11-12cm circle. They look quite small, but that is how these are meant to be, and they do get fluffier when cooled. Combine the sesame and canola oil together and brush the surface of each bao, then fold over so it now looks like a half-circle. Place on a piece of baking paper square and set aside to prove one last time for 15 minutes.  
 
Now it is time to steam. To do this, I filled the base of my wok about 1/3rd of the way up with water, and I placed my steamer basket stand in the bottom (it holds the bamboo steamers in place) and brought water to the boil. Once boiling, I steamed all 12 buns at once using 3 layers of steamer baskets, with the lid on, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the heat, DO NOT REMOVE LID, keep the lid on and sit for a further 5 minutes. The buns are now ready to be used and filled.