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Just for Fun! - Chinese New Year Animal Bao/Baozi

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Ok, this recipe is just for fun. I thought it would be a fun one to do for Chinese New Year. You can get creative and make your own animal shapes. Fill them or leave just plain.

I originally made this video for a Nailed it! Failed it! challenge at work but looking at the animals I chose, many are actually in the Chinese Zodiac so I thought it was perfect for a Chinese New Year bao to do together, especially when we're all stuck at home together.

Food color dyes get darker after they cook so go a bit lighter than you think you want and you should be right on target.

Steamed CNY Animal Baos/Baozi

Ingredients (makes 15)


1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

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)

food coloring


chef's choice


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 just about ready, divide into as many colors as you need. You'll probably only need a small piece for the darkest color. You might want to wear gloves for this part. Add a drop or two of color on each ball and knead until color is evenly distributed. It will be streaky at first but it will even out the more you knead. When you have the desired colors, gather each into a smooth ball and place in their own small 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 shape (and fill if desired) as you wish! I hope you use this as a fun activity to do with others. Enjoy!

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