Sunday, May 5, 2013

AB #31 - Steamed Chicken Bao/Bun 鸡肉包

Recently, there were too many things to do and too many backlogs accumulated, so much so that I nearly forgot that I have another bao recipe done a while ago. This time round, I used the same brand of cake flour and the same crisco shortening, simply because I wanted to make a comparison between the 2 recipes. 

The differences between this recipe and the previous HK-Style Smiling Char Siew Bao recipe were: a) double-action baking powder was used instead of single-action baking powder, b) plain sugar was used instead of icing sugar, and c) there was no wheatstarch added. Other than that, the fillings were different too. Well,  I should have used the same char siew fillings so that I can make equal comparisons, but I was tired of using char siew, so I decided to stick to the original recipe and use chicken fillings. 

If you notice, the buns didn't appear to be as white as my previous CSB, they were a little off-white or cream in colour, a bit strange because I was using the same brand of cake flour and shortening. And my chicken buns didn't seem to be the "smiling" type. I double-checked with Baking Mum's fotos, her buns were also not of the "smiling" type, so this recipe is not exactly a "smiling" recipe :)

Smiling or not smiling, it didn't really matter, what mattered most was the taste and how much my family liked the buns. Just take a look at this little pair of hands coming out from nowhere. 真的是迫不及待! 

Her Majesty alone ate 2 buns out of 14, and she is only a toddler who just learnt how to walk! What an appetite! The rest of the buns also did not last for more than a day. :)

I can't say whether the result of this recipe is as good as my smiling char siew bao recipe, because I did not test out both recipes on the same day, and my brain is not wired in such a way that I can capture sensory differences a few weeks apart. I only have fotos to show you the difference if any, in terms of colour and texture. But I would say this recipe is a pretty good recipe, the dough was quite easy to deal with, I didn't have to flour the work surface, and the texture of the chicken baos were smooth, soft and fluffy. Highly recommended, another keeper recipe!

Chicken Bao/Pau Recipe adapted from Baking Mum

Ingredients (Chicken Fillings)
300 g deboned chicken thigh meat, diced
5 chinese mushrooms, soaked in water, drained and diced
1 stalk parsley, chopped (I used coriander)
5 water-chestnuts, diced (omitted)

1 tbsp ginger juice (squeezed from freshly grated ginger)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp chinese cooking wine, optional
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour
a dash of pepper
1 tsp chicken stock granule (I used only 1/2 a capsule)

Thickening **
1 tsp cornstarch/cornflour
1-2 tbsp water (I used 2 tbsp water) 

** Not much juice from the chicken sauce seasonings,  so dun add the cornstarch thickening all at once.

Method (Chicken Fillings)
1. Marinate chicken and chinese mushrooms with seasonings for 30 min.
2. Heat up wok with 2 tbsp oil and stir-fry the seasoned ingredients until cooked. Mix in thickening, and mix well. Leave aside to cool. Refrigerate before use.

Ingredients (Bao Dough)
400 g Hong Kong flour (I used cake flour)
200 g lukewarm water
70 g sugar
a pinch of salt
10 g or 2 tsp double-action baking powder
7 g or 2.25 tsp instant dry yeast (I used Bruggeman)
30g or 2 tbsp shortening (I used Crisco)

Method (Bao Dough)
1. Put all the dough ingredients (except lukewarm water, yeast, shortening) into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Fill the well with yeast and lukewarm water. Use spatula to gently stir the water to dissolve the yeast, then slowly bring together the flour mixture. Add in shortening and mix for 10-15 min until a soft, smooth dough is formed.  (I used the dough mode of my bread-machine, forgot to note down how long it took, but I think it was about 15 min, until the dough became smooth and no longer sticky.)

2. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic clingwrap and proof the dough for about 30 min in a warm place. (1st proofing)

3. After 1st proofing, divide the dough into 14 equal portions, about 50g each. Round up the dough into small balls, cover with plastic clingwrap and proof for another 5 min. (2nd proofing)

4. After 2nd proofing, roll out dough with a rolling pin to make a 12 cm circle, with the corner of the circle thinner than the centre.  Place 1 heaped teaspoon of fillings in the centre, pleat it and seal it tightly, about 9 to 10 pleats per bao. 

5. Place each bao on a small square piece of baking paper (8 x 8 cm) with the pleated side facing up. Cover with plastic clingwrap and let it rest and proof the last time for about 15 min in a warm place. (3rd proofing)

6. In the mean time, heat up a steamer in advance. 

7. After 3rd proofing, arrange the baos in the steamer, leaving about 1-inch gap in between. Steam over medium-high heat in a preheated steamer for 15 min. (I steamed mine over HIGH heat for 12 min.)

8. Remove buns from steamer and transfer them to a cooling rack to prevent soggy bottom. The buns are best eaten hot. When you need to eat one, just warm it up in a steamer for 5 min or in microwave for about 1 min. 

1. I used a 8% gluten level cake flour from Thailand called Royal Fan Cake Flour and I used Crisco shortening. If you want steamed white buns, you have to use both : bleached HK flour/cake flour and shortening. If either one is replaced, you will end up with yellowish buns. 

2. You may use vegetable oil (except olive oil or peanut oil) to replace shortening, it will generally not affect the taste or texture, but the buns will be yellowish. 

3. You may substitute cake flour with bleached all-purpose flour (note the word bleached), 1 cup of sifted cake flour (100 g) is equal to 3/4 cup (84 g) sifted bleached all-purposed flour plus  2 tbsp (15 g) cornstarch. But if you use unbleached all-purpose flour without any cornstarch added, the flour gluten level will not be low enough and the buns will not be as soft and fluffy, so it is not recommended.

4. For those who can't find double action baking powder (DABP), the rule of thumb for substitution is :
1 tsp DABP = 1.5 tsp (normal) baking powder; OR
1 tsp DABP = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp cornstarch. 

5. The steamer must be preheated and the water must be boiling before you put in the buns. Also do not open the lid when the buns are still steaming. When you open the lid, be careful that the condensation don't drip onto the steamed buns. You may cover the lid of the steamer by wrapping a tea towel around the lid to avoid condensation from dripping.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) hosted by none other than myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

This post has also been submitted to YeastSpotting.


  1. Your baos look very good! Hehe, your kid is so cute, can see her little hand trying to grab a bao in anticipation :)

    I have not make bao before, still thinking if I can participate in this month's AB :p

    1. Hi Baking Scientist,
      Thank you for your comments. Actually I am considered a beginner in bao-making, this is probably my 5th or 6th time only.

      I would encourage you to try first with ready-made fillings (eg tau sar or kaya) and make buns that require no pleating. That way, you can concentrate on the dough and not worry about how to prepare the fillings.

      Hope to see your submission soon. :)

  2. Hi Miss B,

    Point noted that this is a great recipe! Will love to steam some boa when I'm back from holidays.

    Btw, I have not make any Milo biscuits before. Thanks for the inspiration. I would love to try baking them one day :D Will check with Doreen too if she has baked any of these traditional cookies before.


    1. Do try it, Zoe! I am still undecided whether the recipe from Lydia Teh (my char siew bao recipe posted on 2 May 2013) or this is better. This recipe from Baking Mum is very similar to the Aunty Yochana's recipe which I did on 29 Jul 2012, which was also very good. I hope I have time to do a side-by-side comparison of ingredients like what you did for your pineapple tarts!

  3. your Bao's look so yummy, this is remind me of my favorite snack back in the Philippines. Your so lucky to have this fresh on you kitchen. Thanks for sharing the recipe. By the way I'm your newest follower:)

  4. I think your pleating looks really beautiful and although I've made baos a few times, I still cannot get it right :/ I'm always glad to take note of bao recipes to experiment with and your comments are very helpful!

  5. Hi Janine,
    Although my pleating has improved, it is still not good, I can't finish the last pleat and tuck it in properly. I hope I can learn from a professional one day. Here is a video which I watch many times to learn pleating, from Christine's recipes.

  6. That's a cute little hand reaching for the yummy looking bun(s)!
    I really hope I can do justice to the bag of cake flour. Let's see how the end result turns out...


    1. Yah, you have seen her haven't you? She is a energizer rabbit, full of energy the whole day!

      Dun worry, I think your buns will turn out great, but you must proof in a warm place. The weather in Belgium is really cold and dreary this week. What I normally do is to put the dough covered in a bowl, just above the heater (verwarming). But bcos we switched off the heater recently, so now I place the dough covered with kitchen towel in the oven, turn it on just slightly below the lowest temp (about 40C-50C), and put a big bowl of boiling water underneath it. And it rises very well within 1 hour. :)

  7. Ha ha! You read my thoughts. I was thinking of proofing it the easy way out in a warm oven. I've seen a youtube somewhere (but can't find it anymore) that we preheat the oven at 50C for a couple of minutes, turn it off and put the bowl of dough for proofing... let's see :-) If my buns flopped, it will be blogged as well. The show must go on...

  8. Just curious why you need to use both baking powder and yeast? Can we just use either one?

    1. Knock knock, who's that? Pls identify yourself, b4 I reply you.

  9. Hi there!
    Reading the recipe, you're saying that if we want white baos, we need to use both HK flour & Cake flour + shortening, but in what proportions should we use the HK flour & Cake flour? Thank you !!!

    1. I only used cake flour (royal fan brand bought in belgium). Pls check the reply to your email. Thanks.

  10. Hi

    I also need to know the proportion for hongkong flour and cake flour?

  11. Hi
    It's either u use HK flour OR cake flour. I don't combine them.


Thank you for dropping by my blog and taking the time to comment. All feedback and comments are greatly appreciated. Please leave your name (real or nick) if you would like me to answer a recipe question, otherwise all. anonymous questions and comments will be strictly ignored. Anonymity is one of my pet peeves. And any spam or links to adverts will be deleted. Thank you and have a nice day!

Print Button


Related Posts with Thumbnails