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Steamed Bao/Baozi - Plain Bao Buns

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

Best right out of the steamer these pillowy steamed bao buns are a blank canvas ready to surround and hold whatever you want or you could just eat them as is!

I didn't start making these plain ones till more recent years. My youngest likes using them to make little sandwiches or even smearing it with cream cheese. Fill it with whatever you like!

My suggested filling is a smear of hoisin sauce, pickled daikon and carrots, some charred green onions, a sprig of cilantro and a nice sized chunk of pork belly. Perfect Chinese sliders, tart, crunchy, sweet, salty, fatty. What more could you ask for?

Steamed Plain Bao/Baozi Buns

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)


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 to proof 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! 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 15 equal pieces. If you want to be exact, use a kitchen scale. Dough should weigh about 800 g, so each piece should weigh about 53 g. Cover cut pieces with a damp cloth.

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 an oval shape about 3 1/2" wide and 6" long. Fold in half over itself. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper and keep covered with a damp cloth so they don't dry out while rolling and folding the rest of the dough.

Get water boiling in a steamer. Steam for 10-12 minutes, leaving at least 1" between each bao as they will expand. Enjoy!!

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.

Tip: If you are filling a batch of baos with more than one filling, don't forget to wrap the baos differently so you know which is which.

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