Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Steamed Buns (Pau)

Despite the fact that I have been pretty successfully in baking bread and buns, I have always had reservations when it comes to making Chinese Steamed Buns (or Pau in Chinese). I often encounter the problem of the buns appearing yellowish or not fluffy. I can never make "Pau"s that are so soft, white and fluffy that is sold by most hawkers here in Malaysia.

Early February, I stumbled upon a blog post by Happy Home Baking on steamed buns. I was immediately sold after reading her post and looking at how beautiful and cute her buns turned out to be. I just had to try my hands on it.....

So, last Sunday while I prepared my bread/bun doughs for this weeks consumption, I made a batch of dough using this recipe. Stashed it in the freezer and took it out today to play with!!!

Here's the recipe.

Steamed Buns with Red Bean Paste (adapted from Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients :
(makes 12)

300 gm Hong Kong pau flour (I used Blue Key's pau flour)
3 gm baking powder
3 gm instant yeast
30 gm caster sugar (I used organic raw cane sugar)
160 ml water
15 gm vegetable oil

Filling : 240 gm red bean paste

Method :
  1. Sieve Hong Kong pau flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add yeast, caster sugar and mix well.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, add in water and mix to form a dough. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it becomes smooth (about 5 mins). Knead in the vegetable oil and continue to knead for another 10-15 mins or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Take a piece of dough (about the size of a table tennis ball) and stretch it, you should be able to stretch it to a fairly thin membrane without tearing off easily, if not continue to knead for another 5 to 10mins.
  3. Roll dough into a smooth round, place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it proof for about 1 hr or until it doubles in bulk.
  4. Punch down the dough and give a few light kneading to release the trapped air bubbles. Divide the dough into 12 portions (about 40g each). Roll each portion into a smooth round.
  5. Flatten each dough into a small disc with your palm or a small rolling pin, make the edges thinner and the centre portion thicker. Wrap each dough with 20g of red bean paste. Pinch and seal the seams. Place dough seam side down on a square piece of parchment paper. Cover loosely with cling wrap and leave buns to proof for 20-25 mins.
  6. Place buns in a steamer* and space them apart so that they do not touch one another. Steam at medium to high heat for 12mins (make sure the water is already boiling before steaming). When ready, remove the lid carefully to prevent water from dripping over the buns. Remove immediately and serve warm. Keep any leftovers in fridge (covered with cling wrap or store in airtight containers) and re-steam till hot before serving.
Note :
  • I threw all the ingredients (except the vegetable oil) into my Kenwood mixer and knead till dough is smooth(about 3 minutes).
  • Then I add in vegetable oil and knead for another 15 minutes (till dough is smooth and elastic).
  • Next I put the dough in a sealed plastic bag and stashed it in the freezer (to sleep).
  • Took it out this morning (around 10am) and place the frozen dough in a mixing bowl (covered with cling wrap) to defrost.
  • Since the weather is really hot and humid today (about 33C), the dough was well proved by 2pm when I returned home after fetching my children back from school.
  • I made 10 mice buns with red bean paste and 2 piggy buns with kaya filling (as I ran out of red bean paste).
  • It's so soft and fluffy!!

    3 cute mice ;p
The eyes are made of black sesame seeds


This recipe is definitely a keeper. The buns are soft and it remain soft even after 6 hours. Yummie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's so easy to make. My piggies and mice do not look very pretty....but they are still cute ;p
My children love them... definitely going to see smiles tomorrow morning during breakfast!!!

Thanks Happy Home Baking for sharing this great recipe.


  1. Hi Sally, your bunny buns are so lovely! Mine looks like fat cats :( The piggies also look so cute!! You have made pau before? so do you know the reason why your previous paus were yellowish? Is it because of the flour? steaming process? or the recipe?? What about the texture, were your previous ones soft and fluffy? Sorry for asking so making questions as I am new to making Chinese buns.

  2. Soooo cute! Have to give it a try.Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Hi, HHB thanks for your kind compliments. FYI those little things with pointy ears are supposed to be mice (not bunnies!!!). Hehehe I should heve called them bunnies (as come to think about it they do resemble bunnies more).
    Anyway.... I have made paus a few times. The texture was not as good as this. In fact what I see is that after a few hours the paus tend to become dense. This one does not.
    As for the yellowish colour, I am not too sure. My baos did turn slightly yellowish after I resteamed them today. I know Hong Kong flour yields a whiter colour (as I think it is blenched). The oil that is used also plays a role in it. Apparently shortening will yield a whiter bao too!! I like this recipe as you add yeast and baking powder. I don't get the yeasty taste & smell. One more thing, while steaming... the skin of the baos can turn wrinkly if water droplets (condensation) lands on the baos. Bamboo steamers is supposed to be the best to prevent this.

  4. Penny... you are most welcomed.
    Let me know the outcome ;p

  5. Hi Sally, thanks so much for answering my questions :)