Char Siu Bao
5-6, 16 total bunsservings
3½ cups bread flour
½ cup cake flour (all purpose flour works for both, but try bread flour if you can)
1 cup milk, room temperature
⅔ cup heavy cream, room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp high heat oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
2 cups Char Siu, cooked and finely diced
¾ cup chicken stock
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1½ sesame oil
Sesame seeds, egg wash, 1 tbsp of sugar in 1 tbsp of hot water
In a large bowl, add the heavy cream, milk and 1 egg. Mix these ingredients together, then add the ⅓ cup of sugar, 3½ cups of bread flour & ½ cup of cake flour, yeast, and salt. Mix these ingredients together with a fork or rubber spatula until it becomes too difficult to work, then switch to hand kneading. Knead for around 20 minutes, or until the gluten has been nicely developed. If the dough feels too sticky, add a little bit of flour. If using a stand mixer, knead on low speed for 15 minutes using the dough hook attachment.
Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm spot to proof for 75-90 minutes. A microwave with a mug of boiling water is a great environment for winter.
While the dough is proofing, heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then, add the 2 tbsp of sugar, soy sauces, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. Stir and cook until it begins to bubble. After this, add the chicken stock and 2 tbsp flour. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until thickened, stirring frequently, about 2-3 minutes. Lastly, add in the diced Char Siu and remove from the heat. This will be our filling.
After the bao dough is finished proofing, knead it for another 5 minutes to punch the air out. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Cut the ball into 16 equal pieces. If you want precision here, feel free to weigh the dough and filling to get exactly the same in each bao.
To shape the bao, roll each portioned piece of dough into a 4-inch circle. Be sure to keep the center of the circle thicker than the outsides, or else you’ll end up with bottom-heavy bao. This process becomes easier after you’ve done a few.
Add a portion of the filling to the center of each dough circle. Crimp the outer edge of the dough circles together, crimping bit by bit until the filling is fully enclosed. Be careful not to get oil from the filling onto your hands during this process, as it will make the bao difficult to close. Wetting your finger with water and then running along the exposed dough circle edges prior to filling helps the dough stick together.
Once all of the bao are shaped, place them seam-side down onto baking sheets with parchment paper. Cover both trays with clean towels, and allow them to proof for 1 hour in a warm place.
When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 F. Brush the buns with egg wash, and sprinkle on sesame seeds if using. Put the bao in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350 F. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
If you want the buns to shine, mix 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp boiling water, and spread the sugar syrup atop the finished buns. Enjoy at any temperature, perfect for traveling.
Soft milk bread bao filled with Cantonese BBQ pork and a flavorful sauce. These are very common in Chinese bakeries. This recipe is for the baked version of the buns, but other versions also exist. Feel free to modify this filling to vegetables, cheese, or anything else you desire, as this recipe is mainly for the bao.
5-6, 16 total bunsservings