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Coconut Filled Baked Baos (Gai Mei Bao)

This is a Chinese bakery favorite! I hate to say it but I'm pretty sure that translated from Cantonese it means chicken "end" bao. But, safe to say it contains NO chicken or any chicken ends! Lol! It is a deliciously soft, moist, rich bread surrounding a crispy, creamy, sweet coconut filling. So good with your morning tea or coffee.

The secret to this dough is the tangzhong, a cooked flour mixture that when added to the dough helps it to stay extraordinarily moist and gives it an unbeatable texture.

Whenever we visited NY my mom always sent us home with a box of these baos. My girls love them! We would take some out to eat immediately and freeze the rest to take out and reheat later. Always a sad day when the last was gone.

Baked Coconut Bao - Gai Mei Bao

Ingredients (makes 12 buns)


6 tablespoons whole milk

2 tablespoons unbleached bread flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

4 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons warm water

1/2 cup whole milk

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (or high performance bread flour - recommended)

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg


2 1/2 cups coconut flakes

2 Tbs granulated sugar

2 Tbs melted butter

2 large egg yolks

Egg wash

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoon water

1 Tablespoon honey


2 Tablespoons sesame seeds


Make the tangzhong: Combine milk and flour in a small saucepan and whisk until smooth. Place the saucepan over low heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until you get to a thick gravy consistency 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, stir until incorporated and set aside to cool.

Give the yeast a little head start. In a small bowl add the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Let sit to start blooming while you get your other ingredients together.

Make the dough: Fit mixer with the paddle attachment. In the mixing bowl add milk, flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, salt, tangzhong, and yeast mixture and mix 1 minute. Switch to dough hook and knead 1 minute. Add egg and continue kneading for an additional 8 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms. If kneading by hand mix with a silicone spatula first until you get a shaggy looking dough then switch to kneading by hand. Do not worry if it feels sticky at first. Keep kneading allowing flour to absorb moisture. If it is too dry add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. If it is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time. Dough should look smooth and feel like play dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk. Your "off" oven is a good place.

While the dough is proofing, make the filling. Process the coconut and sugar in a blender or food processor until very fine. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter and egg yolk until it has a paste like consistency. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or transfer to a zip top bag or an airtight container and store in the refrigerator to use within 3 days.

After 60-90 minutes continue working on dough. Gently deflate the dough, divide it into 12 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough into an oval about 3"x6" Add a heaping tablespoon of filling in in the middle and spread almost to the ends. Bring up the edges and ends and pinch to close. Place, seam side down, on a sheet tray lined with parchment or greased pan, and let rest for 40 to 50 minutes, until puffy.

In a small bowl mix the egg, water and honey with a fork until honey is dissolved.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes, and brush on some more egg wash. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on top; a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the middle bun should read at least 190°F.

Remove the buns from the oven. Allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. is written for informational purposes only. Nutrition values could vary depending on slight differences in brands, substitutions, etc. Feel free to consult your preferred online nutrition calculator to determine nutritional information with the actual ingredients and quantities used.

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