(Chinese steamed, filled buns)
Bao, also known as baozi, are soft, pillowy buns that are either steamed or baked. They come with a variety of fillings and are a common item in dim sum shops. Bao are a favorite for breakfast or mid-morning snack.
Makes 20 to 24 buns
- Warm water, warm (about 110°F) -- 1 cup
- Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
- Flour -- 1 cup
- Sugar -- 1/4 cup
- Shortening or oil -- 2 tablespoons
- Water -- 1/2 cup
- Salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Flour -- 3 to 3 1/2 cups
- Filling (see variations) -- 3 cups
- In a large bowl, stir together the 1 cup warm water and yeast. Let set for about 10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
- Stir the 1 cup of flour into the yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
- While the batter is rising, add the sugar, shortening or oil, 1/2 cup water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Stir the cooled sugar water into the batter mixture. Next stir in the remaining 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour. Remove to a lightly floured work surface and knead to form a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough into a large, greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, from 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough with your fists and knead gently another 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal halves. Roll each half into a log and cut each log into 10 or 12 pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a round about 3 inches wide. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Pull the edges up around the filling and twist to seal the top. Place the filled bao on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper.
- Cover the finished bao with a towel, and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Set up a Chinese bamboo steamer over a wok or pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of water. Working in batches, steam the buns for about 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Serve warm.
- Char Siu Bao: This is the famous BBQ pork bun, especially popular in Guangdong Province. See the char siu recipe notes to make the filling. Char siu bau bun dough is a little different from that for other baozi in that a little baking powder is usually added, giving the dough a fluffier, more tender texture. Just mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder into the 3-3 1/2 cups of flour before you add it to the yeasty liquid.
- Chan Bao: Bun filled with BBQ pork, onion and oyster sauce.
- Dousha Bao: Sweet bean paste bun.
- Fo Tui Bao: Ham bun. These are usually brushed with an egg glaze and baked instead of steamed.
- Ga Lei Bao: Curried beef bun. Like ham buns, these are brushed with an egg glaze and baked instead of steamed.
- Gai Bao: Chicken bun.
- Lat Cheung Bao: Chinese sausage bun.
- Lin Yung Bao: Sweet lotus bean starch and egg yolk bun.
- Mui Jeung Gai Bao: Plum sauce chicken bun.
- Zhu Rou Bao: Pork and cabbage buns. See pork and cabbage filling recipe.
- Xiao Long Bao: Juicy pork buns. Popular in Shanghai.