Bao Buns


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    large buns smaller

Appears in

It’s taken me years to perfect the fluffiest bao and I can tell you it’s the second proving that makes them so soft. If you become addicted, you may want to invest in a big steamer. Asian shops sell aluminium double-stacked steamers, perfect for buns, dumplings or whole fish. Pop in any filling, but Spicy chicken, Braised pork or Prawn katsu are memorable feasts.

Prep 15 minutes, plus 1 hour proving
Cook 10 minutes


  • 100 ml ( fl oz) milk
  • 90 ml 3 fl oz) warm water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra tsp fast-action yeast
  • 350 g 12 oz) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar


In a pouring jug, mix together the milk, warm water, vegetable oil and yeast. Leave to sit for 5 minutes to check if the yeast bubbles up (it’s a good test to see if your yeast is working).

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer with a dough hook, add the dry ingredients. With the motor running on low speed, pour in the liquid. Let it come together as a ball of dough and if it sticks to the bottom, then sprinkle in an extra tablespoon or so of flour. Knead for 10 minutes on the same low speed. You can also do this by hand using a large mixing bowl and spoon, kneading the dough on the counter for 10 minutes.

Remove the dough and place in a lightly oiled bowl for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap.

Knock the dough back, knead for another 2 minutes, and then cut into 12–16 balls and place under a tea towel to stay soft while rolling. Use scissors to cut 10 cm (4 inch) squares of non-stick baking paper for each ball. Roll each ball into an elliptical shape about 15 cm (6 inches) long and 8 cm ( inches) wide. Brush the tops lightly with vegetable oil, fold over and place each on a square of paper. Add to the steamer, then place the lid on the steamer so that they are covered. Leave to rise for a second time, about 30 minutes–1 hour depending on the heat of your kitchen.

Pour water in the bottom of a wok or if you are using a metal steamer, pour water into the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and then place the steamer on top. Steam for about 8 minutes or until puffy and firm.