Fluffy steamed buns #BBB

Our Bread Baking Babes challenge for this month was to whip up some steamed buns, filled or not, with any filling we desired!  My first inclination was to make some custard buns, which I did, and those were fairly good.  Not a huge winner in our house, but they were good warm, and definitely cute.  Then I decided that char sui bao sounded really tasty, so I tried those out next.  Yum.


There are so many options for fillings, and steamed buns are just all kinds of fluffy tasty bread!  For my custard, I had some sweet potato to use up, so I did a modified egg custard with sweet potato.  

And of course, why not make them cute while we're at it.  Plus a little sifted sprouted red wheat to make them little blonde bears...

Hmmm, little slightly intoxicated bears?  Maybe we'll just forget that one in the corner that had one too many tonight.

If savory is your preference, the char sui is a wonderful filling!  Check out some of the other babes for vegetarian options like the mushroom.

We would love to have you try out some steamed buns with us this month and share your filling choices! If you wish to be a Buddy this month, and steam along with us, send your story to our host kitchen by June 29th to be included in any roundup.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Possible fillings:

Red bean paste
Black sesame paste
Char Siu, or BBQ pork
Chicken and vegetables (chopped rather finely)
Minced, cooked mushrooms, sautéed with onions and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, and pepper

Here are the dough and custard recipes I used.  The char sui, I kind of just threw together, but loosely based on the filling in this blog.  Added a little savoy cabbage and some extra sauces and spices to make with what we had on hand.  The suggested dough recipe from our host, which is very similar, follows.

Steamed Buns
(I made 8 custard buns for the whole wheat, and 10 char sui bao for the regular)


   260 g of all-purpose flour (I used half freshly ground sprouted red wheat, well sifted, for the whole wheat version)
   26 g sugar
   4g salt
   160ml of warm milk
   3g yeast
   4g baking powder
   10g cooking oil

Custard (make 3 hours ahead)

    200ml milk
    20 g butter
    30 g sugar
    20g starch powder (I used wheat starch)
    2 yolks, 32g (I used 1 yolk + 50g mashed sweet potatoes)
    3~4 drops of vanilla essence (optional)

For the custard, mix together the egg yolks and sugar and set aside.  Melt the butter and milk together over low heat, just until butter is melted.  Slowly whisk into the egg mixture.  Whisk in starch, then return to pot on stove. Add optional vanilla and bring to boil over low heat on the stove.  Stir constantly until a thick paste is formed.  Scrape into a dish and freeze for about 20 minutes.  Divide custard into eight pieces, roll into balls, and freeze for 3 hours until solid.  (This can be done the day before if desired.)

For the dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, then add in the yeast and baking powder.  Mix in the milk until a rough dough forms.  Knead in the oil until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Divide into 8-10 pieces and roll each piece into a smooth, round ball.  Cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Prepare some parchment squares to place the filled buns on in the steamer.  Flatten each piece with palm until about 10cm in diameter, then press out the edges to thin.  Place a frozen custard ball, (or your chosen filling), in the center of the dough and close up and seal the edges around the top.  For a filling that is not firm, bring up and pleat the edges together to seal.  Place on a parchment square in the steamer and repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Place steamer over warm water for 30 minutes to proof.  After 30 minutes, remove steamer and bring water to a boil.  Place steamer over boiling water and cook for 12 minutes, then turn off heat and let sit for 5 more minutes without removing lid.  This lets the buns set and will prevent a wrinkled, collapsed look.

Serve buns warm.

Original Dough and variations:

300 g all-purpose flour
50 g sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp coarse salt
160 g warm water (about 110˚F)
Oil for greasing bowl

Place dry ingredients into a bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.  Attach a dough hook, and, with the mixer on low, pour in the warm water and mix to form a shaggy dough.  Knead at medium-high speed about 8-9 minutes until the dough is very smooth and slightly tacky.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a smooth ball.  Place into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Once the dough has proofed, deflate the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Form into a smooth ball.

Dough flavor variations:

Matcha dough:  Add ~7 g food-grade matcha powder to the dry ingredients.

Spinach dough:  Puree 3 cups of spinach leaves with ¾ cup warm water.  Strain the puree through a sieve, keeping the water and discarding the pulp.  There should be about 160 g of warm spinach water.

Sweet Potato dough:  Reduce the warm water to 113 g, and add 120 g of sweet potato puree along with the dry ingredients.

Whole Wheat dough:  Reduce all-purpose flour to 225 g, and add 75 g of whole wheat flour. 


 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes




  1. Your little bears are adorable!!! The little bit of whole wheat is perfect for the color! Char sui is sooooooo delicious too.

  2. I love all of the flavors you used. And your bears are so cute and very creative!

  3. They're so cute! I love the topknot!

  4. Those faces are fabulous! It almost ('almost' being the key word) makes me want to try this again.

    The char siu buns look fabulous!


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