I have done a fair bit of research on this, both from cook books and internet. The art of making a soft fluffy bao seems to be a guarded secret of an ancient Chinese Kung fu. You just can't find one. Of course, many claimed to be able to make the bao pillowy soft and leavened. Some used water roux some added milk and some added egg white. I have tried the ALL, and yet, the result is fair at best. Thank God my little boy is a bao lover and helped me devour most of my trials.
Now, this recipe is something that I have meticulously improvised through trials and error. I don't think it is a conventional method but the steps are pretty much the same. The result is beyond satisfactory! It came out soft, puffy and does not stick to the teeth, just like those from the dim sum place.
Basic Bao Skin
Yields about 8 baos (with filling)
150 g bao flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
60 g castor sugar
120 ml lukewarm water
80 g bao flour
30 ml water
30 g bao flour
25 g shortening, lard or oil
1/4 tsp ammonium bicarbonate
1 tsp double action baking powder
1. Combine ingredient A. Activate yeast by adding warm water and sugar to the yeast. Let sit for 10 mins in a mixing bowl. Add in flour and stir until combined. Mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste. Cover bowl and let sit for 1 to 2 hours until paste doubles in size.
2. Add ingredient B. Add more flour and water to the yeast mixture. Mix until combined. Dough should be sticky. Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic and less sticky. Brush dough with some oil and let sit covered for another 2 hours or until it at least doubles in size. For best results, put in into the fridge overnight.
3. Finally add ingredient C and knead into a dough. Punch air out of the dough. Knead dough until ingredients C are well incorporated. Flour worktop and work dough to desired shapes and filling.
4. Cover and let it proof for another 15-30 minutes (yes, again!) . Using high heat, steam in boiling water for 15 mins.
6. Remove and serve hot.
Click here for Steamed Meat Bun (sang yuk bao) 生肉包 recipe.
Click here for Longevity Bao (sau bao) 寿桃包 recipe.
1. The time required to proof the dough is just a guideline. The proofing would depend on the surrounding temperature. Always try to put yeast in a warm place for it to be cultured.
2. You can also replace water with milk to make the bao more soft and tasty.