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Rosebud Steamed Baos

Fill someone's day with love by giving them a "baoquet" of pretty steamed rose buds! Almost too pretty to eat! These naturally colored steamed buns are lightly sweet and the dough is pillowy soft. So fun to peel apart layer by layer to eat!

My oldest daughter said getting flowers was a waste because you couldn't eat them and they just die. So I made her these edible flowers.

I was inspired to experiment with this when I was making my kids a Valentines Day treat and at the same time wanting to experiment with natural food colors. This was the result. You don't have to use natural food colors but it is fun to try. I pureed then strained beets for red, carrots and roasted orange peppers for yellow, and spinach for green.

Steamed Baoquet

Ingredients (makes 14)


1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/4 cup sugar

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

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

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup warm water (will need adjustments if using natural food color/puree)

1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes

natural or artificial food color (I used 1/4 cup each strained pureed vegetables)


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 (taken from the 1/4 cup) and 3 tablespoons 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, the rest of the sugar and baking powder. Stir with a whisk.

If you are using natural food color, this is where your technique will be slightly different. Divide the dry ingredients equally into 3 bowls. If you just want white and green divide into 2 bowls but 1/3 for green, 2/3 for white. Then divide the wet ingredients, including puree and yeast mixture, among those bowls.

If using artificial food color, mix in the color after the white dough has been formed and divided.

Each rose is made of 5 rounds, 3 for petals and 2 leaves. You don't have to stick with this formula. Feel free to make it your own but 5 is a good number.

Stir with a silicone spatula or in the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment until you get a shaggy looking dough (see pictures below). 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. Use your thumb to poke a hole in the middle of the ball to form a doughnut shape and gently pull and stretch the "doughnut" until you get a consistent thickness. Cut the doughnut and gently roll the log on a lightly floured surface. Cut into about 12 equal pieces of about 22 g each. Cover cut pieces with a damp cloth.

Take 3-4 colored petal pieces of each color and divide in half. Roll each piece into a tapered cigar shape about 3" long. You'll want 12-14 total. Set aside under damp paper towel.

Start rolling leaves and petals. Working with one piece at at time, take one piece and place on lightly floured surface. Lightly flour your rolling pin. Roll firmly to get a round shape 3" in diameter. Roll all of your dough before shaping. Keep covered with a damp paper towel so they don't dry out.

Line up 5 rounds of dough overlapping each other starting with 2 green. Place one of the cigar shaped pieces nearest you on the closest colored circle of dough. Lift up the edge of the dough over the cigar shaped piece and start rolling forward toward the green. Roll until all the pieces are in the log. Cut the rolled log in half and turn up so that cut side is down. Pinch any loose pieces of dough by the cut end together. Gently spread the leaves and petals slightly apart to resemble an opening flower. Place in a covered container lined with parchment until you have shaped all of your flowers.

When all of the flowers are nearly rolled, get water boiling in a steamer. Transfer the flower baos to a steamer basket and carefully place over the boiling water. Cover and steam for 10-12 minutes, leaving at least 1" between each bao as they will expand. Be careful when you remove the lid as the steam is HOT! Enjoy your baoquet!

Pro tip: If you are making multiple batches (doubling or tripling this recipe) you will need to increase the amount of water slightly to maintain the correct pliability of the dough. It should always feel like play dough that bounces back, not dense and dry and not sticky.

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