How to Make Dough for Chinese Steamed Buns

Written by laura crawley
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How to Make Dough for Chinese Steamed Buns
Filled Chinese buns are cooked in bamboo steamers. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images)

Steamed white buns with various meat and vegetable fillings are common to all regions of China. They are a popular snack or part of a meal, and are served on the street or in restaurants. A dough is prepared and shaped into small round buns, then filled with any number of fillings. The buns are then placed in a bamboo steamer and steamed. Barbecued pork buns, or Char Siu Bao, are one of the best known kinds of steamed buns. The dough itself is similar to a western white bread dough. It is fairly simple to make at home and does not require any special ingredients.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Small bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Spoon
  • Flat surface for kneading
  • Extra flour
  • Large bowl
  • Cooking spray
  • Damp dishtowel
  • Cling film

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  1. 1

    Take a small bowl and fill it with 1 cup of lukewarm water. Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsps of yeast and 1 tsp of sugar over the water and stir until thoroughly mixed. Leave the mixture until it begins to bubble; this will take between 5 and 10 minutes.

  2. 2

    Measure out 3 cups of flour and place the flour in a large bowl. When the yeast and water mixture is ready, add it to the flour in the large bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon, until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

    How to Make Dough for Chinese Steamed Buns
    Place the flour in a large bowl. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  3. 3

    Prepare a wooden board or other surface suitable for kneading dough, and sprinkle it with some flour to keep the dough from sticking. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on the kneading surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. This will take at least 10 minutes.

    How to Make Dough for Chinese Steamed Buns
    Knead the dough until it is smooth. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  4. 4

    Take a second large bowl and spray the inside of it with cooking spray. Place the ball of kneaded dough inside and cover it with a damp towel. Let the dough rise until it has tripled in size. This will take about 3 hours.

  5. 5

    Punch the risen dough down. Take it out of the bowl and wrap it in cling film if you are not using it right away. Place it in the refrigerator. It will keep there for about 3 days. If you wish, you can freeze the dough instead; if frozen, you should use the dough within three months.

Tips and warnings

  • You can substitute a cup of lukewarm milk for the cup of lukewarm water, if desired; some recipes recommend adding a tablespoon of cooking oil to the water.
  • The steamed bun dough is essentially an ordinary white bread dough; the main difference is in the use of the dough - to make small filled buns - and the cooking method (steaming rather than baking).

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