I have got inspired by the magic of these buns through a small chain of restaurants called Bao in Central London. Whenever I was in Soho, I was always intrigued by the long queues that was racking up during the lunch rush hour at this 30-seater restaurant. These buns are beautiful, soft and fluffy, these buns are steamed instead of baked and they absorb the juices of whatever fillings they take in.
I wanted to learn to make these dough buns myself and then to share my knowledge with you. It's been a journey trying to create these buns. By following a recipe and then tweaking it you begin to understand what makes these buns soft and fluffy. While you let the dough develop, why not use the time to produce your own fillings.
The dough from these buns are very ubiquitous, they can be shaped into a ball on it's own and dipped in a caramel sauce, made into a taiwanese style bao bun, made into a round bun with sweet and savoury fillings inside of them. The difficult part after making the dough is deciding what to put in.
Bao dough for bao buns/Hirata buns
Makes about 16 buns. Time: 20 minutes plus 1.5 hours proving time.
- 500g plain flour plus extra for dusting
- 100g cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 50g caster sugar
- 15g baking powder
- 50ml milk plus extra for glaze
- 260ml warm tepid water
- 25ml vegetable oil plus extra for folding the dough
- Place all of the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix evenly
- Slowly add the water, milk and oil into the dry ingredients and mix the dough in a food mixer until the dough starts to feel form. This will take about 10 minutes
- Dust the surface of a table with flour and knead the dough on the table for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and does not stick to your hands. this will take 10 minutes but the longer you knead it the more the flavours develop in the dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place back into the mixing bowl. Oil the surface of the dough and let it rest for an hour to an hour and a half until the dough has doubled in size. The dough is ready when you push you finger into the dough and it bounces back slowly.
- Dust the surface of the table with flour, and roll the dough with a rolling pin. With a round cookie cutter cut into the dough forming a round citcle, and coat the top surface of the dough with vegetable oil and fold it in half. Allow dough to prove for another 20 minutes.
- Glaze the top of the dough with milk and place into a steamer for 20 minutes.
- Allow buns to cool and then place your own fillings in the Bao buns. Enjoy!
I originally used a recipe from Jeremy Pang of the School Of Wok and I set to work on giving it my own take through research and trial and error. I have used the addition of cornstarch to give the dough more of that characteristic pillowy softness.