steamed bao chinese recipeA bao, or Chinese bun is a staple for many different regions of China.

I know what you’re thinking, “there are differences around China?”. Why yes, my reader, there are very distinct areas of China that differ greatly in culture and cuisine.

A good friend of mine, Sean Gu, is always educating me about China and all the different foods around (he actually has a really cool portfolio on 500px with his photography work-check it out) and I’ve started exploring Toronto a lot more to try to find most of these different cuisines offered in restaurants.

Shi Lin Stone Forest Sean Gu

“Stone Forest” Photo Credit: Sean Gu

It would be my DREAM to go on a tasting tour of China one day. It would probably take years to complete, but that country is so vast and diverse that I can’t imagine a better gastronomical experience.

china regional cuisines map


I found this really cool map distinguishing the main culinary regions of China. The area that I come from, which is covered as Canton on the map, is the food that I’ve had the most exposure to. The foods down south are incredibly diverse and as somebody once told me “anything with four legs, swim or could fly is edible”. This is not a smack on Chinese cuisine, but an interesting perspective on the differences between Chinese cuisine and others which tend to have certain animals in the off-limits category for consumption.

steamed bao (2)

trying a different set and using northern light, my photography friends will know what I’m talking about

I’m hoping to start publishing some more recipe posts with basic foods that you should be easily able to make at home. One of my readers told me how awesome it would be to give really simple recipes for them to start learning how to cook at home.

chinese steamed bao

super fluffy baos are a result of properly proofing your dough

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s great on it’s own but it’s an excellent base recipe. Once you have mastered making this bao recipe, there isn’t anything stopping you from stuffing the baos with savoury marinated chicken pieces and then steaming it or baking it off with a sweet taro stuffing inside.

Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A basic bao recipe that will yield deliciously scrumptious baos that are ready for stuffing or perfect on their own! This recipe yields 40 baos (which will go fast) but you can always halve the ingredients and make half.
  • 5-6 cups of All-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup of unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup skim milk powder
  • 2 ½ Tbsp Quick Rise Yeast
  • 6 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water heated to 135 deg F (57 Celsius)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 deg F (80 celsius)
  2. Add 2 ½ cups of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and skim milk powder to mixing bowl and blend with paddle mixer at slow speed until evenly mixed.
  3. Melt butter under gentle heat and add the water, eggs, melted butter to the mixing bowl and mix at slow speed with the paddle mixer until the flour and liquid are well incorporated.
  4. Mix at medium high speed for a further 5 minutes to develop the gluten.
  5. Change the paddle blade to the hook attachment on the mixer.
  6. Add a cup of flour to the bowl and mix with the hook attachment at low speed until all the flour is incorporated into the dough.
  7. Change the speed to medium and allow to mix for 2 minutes then keep adding ¼ cup of flour at a time into the bowl and mix for 2-3 minutes until a dough ball forms and the ball begins to clean the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove dough ball from the mixing bowl and put onto a well-floured surface to begin kneading.
  9. Knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes until dough has a good elastic texture and is able to stand up in a ball shape without settling back down.
  10. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl large enough for the dough ball to expand to a little over double in size. Make sure that the surface of the dough ball has a light coating of oil.
  11. Cover the top of the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and place into the pre-heated oven and turn off the heat.
  12. Allow the dough to rise for an hour.
  13. Take the dough out after an hour and punch down the dough and lightly knead a few times to remove the air bubbles.
  14. Make the baos, ours were about 4-4.5 inches in diameter
  15. Allow the baos to rise again for about 20-25 minutes
  16. Steam the baos for 11 minutes in a steamer
Happy Steaming!

-The Piquey Eater