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Basic Dough - Steamed Baos/Baozi

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

I've used this same recipe for about 20 years and it doesn't disappoint! It yields a pillowy soft and fluffy dough to surround your favorite filling. There are as many fillings as there are ways to wrap this dough. Try out different savory and sweet fillings to find your favorite!

Fun tidbit...a thin, shiny "skin" forms on the outside of the bao. Like myself, my daughter loves to peel off this skin and eat it first. It is stretchy and chewy and fun to eat.

Steamed Bao/Baozi Dough

The sky's the limit on suggestions for fillings! Try them all! Other suggestions are filling it with leftover meats, a hard boiled egg, a whole Chinese sausage. OR shape it into a "bao bun" - a flattened oval folded in half over itself. Open it up and stuff the "sandwich" with a smear of hoisin sauce, pickled daikon and carrots and a generous slab of pork belly! Its plain taste and fluffy texture make it the perfect vehicle to showcase any filling paired up with it. Check out the Mix and Match section for suggestions on fillings.

Ingredients (makes 15 baos)

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour (or bleached all purpose flour for whiter dough)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup warm water

1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 teaspoon baking powder (be careful NOT to use baking soda by mistake)


small wooden rolling pin

parchment paper



I like to give the yeast a little head start. In a small bowl add the yeast, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water (110°F is best but don't go hotter - should feel warm on the back of your hand). Let sit to start blooming while you get your other ingredients together.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, milk, other 1/4 cup of warm water, butter and baking powder. Stir with a silicone spatula or in the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture, which should now be slightly bubbly. Mix with spatula or paddle attachment until you get a shaggy looking dough. Then switch to kneading by hand or using the dough hook. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it feels dry and dense, add a tablespoon of water at a time and wait till incorporated before adding more if needed. Dough should feel soft like play dough. If it looks too wet continue to knead a couple minutes to give the flour a chance to absorb the extra moisture. If still wet and sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to incorporate.

When the dough is ready, gather into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl. Spray top lightly with a cooking spray and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm dark place like your oven (but don't turn on your oven!). Let sit until doubled in size (1 hour).

After 1 hour, remove dough, punch down and knead gently back into a ball. Now it's ready to divide and shape as you wish! You can shape by hand or use a small rolling pin to get a more consistent thickness. Steam finished baos in a steamer for 10 minutes making sure to leave at least an inch between each baos. They will expand! Enjoy!

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