Take a bao: Step-by-step video guide to making the perfect steamed bun

You can stuff baos with some pulled meat and savoury sauce for a scrumptious meal or with some ice cream when you are craving dessert. The plain steamed bun, often compared to bread, is said to have originated in northern China and spread across Southeast Asia. Bāo means 'bun' in Mandarin. 

Chef Shendi Budiman, Head Chef at Baofriend, a Dubai-based restaurant specialising in bao dishes, explains how you can make bao at home. The type of bao he shows in this video is called a lotus leaf bao because of its shape. He said: "You can fill it with any filling of your choice and it tastes good."

Serving size: 15 baos


1 tbsp + 1 tsp dry yeast

350 ml water

600 gms all-purpose flour

6 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp milk powder (full fat)

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

2½ tbsp oil


1. In a mixing bowl, mix lukewarm water and yeast for 5 minutes.

2. Add all the other ingredients, start mixing at the lowest speed for 10 minutes.

3. Knead lighty, cut and shape into golf-sized balls (weighing 50 grams each).

4. Set aside to proof at room temperature for 1 hour 15 minutes (preferably in a room with the air conditioning turned off). The chef added that the entire dough can be proofed without cutting it into balls as well, and later divided into balls before being rolled out.  

5. After the first round of proofing, brush the the dough balls with enough oil and, with a light hand, roll them out using a rolling pin (please refer to the video).

6. Fold the rolled out pieces in half, to achieve the shape of the bun and place on a baking sheet. Set aside for proofing a second time, for 45 minutes at room temperature. 

7. Place the dough in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.

To serve, pan-sear the bun on both sides and place any filling of your choice.

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