Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃 (May 2013)

[Update on 3 June] - Thanks to all for your support. Pls click HERE for the Roundup.

[Update on 30 May] - Due to popular demand, the AB #31 event has been extended by 2 days over the weekend, till 2 June. The Roundup will be on 3 June 2013 (Monday).

Bao, Pau, Pao, Pow : they all mean the same word in Chinese, which is "包" or "包子".

For those who are not well-versed in the Chinese language, "包" has several meanings, one of which is a Noun, referring to a bag/bundle/packet or something that is wrapped up. In this case the Noun bao "包" or baozi "包子" refers to a steamed stuffed bun.

"包" can also take on the meaning of a Verb, such as to wrap or include, or to assure or guarantee.  In this case "包好吃" or bao ho-chiak (in hokkien), simply means assured or guaranteed to be delicious, which is the theme of the Aspiring Bakers event for this month.

So why did I choose the theme of chinese steamed baos/buns for this month's event? Well, after hosting my last event Aspiring Bakers #25 - Steaming Hot Cakes, I consulted Small Small Baker (thank you!) and decided to embark on a similar event, but this time based on steamed baos/buns instead. However, this event is not just on steamed baos/buns, but also on baked and fried ones. This event was originally called Aspiring Bakers #31 - Steamed Buns, but I had to change the name to reflect a broader variety, so I called it Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak 包好吃.

Making baos is actually not that difficult, provided you have the right recipe and right ingredients. It may seem daunting or tedious at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it is really quite an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Hopefully by the end of this month, I would have gathered a repertoire of the best chinese steamed bao/bun recipes from fellow bloggers, which would then serve as a good point of reference for all bakers who would like to learn how to make bao at home. :)

To summarise, we accept steamed, baked and fried baos/buns of the following categories:
1) traditional steamed baos such as char siew bao (叉烧包), bapao (肉包), tau sar bao (豆沙包), lotus paste bun (莲蓉包), corn bun (玉米包) and vegetable bun (菜包), etc.

2) steamed baos with non-traditional fillings, you may put whatever fillings you like, not limited to the following, for example, meat floss (肉松), kaya (加椰), coconut (椰丝), peanut (花生), curry (咖喱), mei cai kou rou (梅菜扣肉), sambal heibi, glutinous rice, just to name a few.

3) plain buns without fillings (called slit pau or割包) to go with meat or poultry dishes, such as kong bak pau (扣肉包) which goes with braised pork belly.

4) man tou (馒头) and longevity peach bun (寿桃).

5) pan-fried buns (生煎包/水煎包) - buns that are pan-fried with a little water in a wok.

6) baked siew bao/pau (烧包) or baked char siew puffs - buns or puffs that are baked in the oven and using the layered flaky pastry, one of the most famous siew bao being the "seremban siew pau".

7) xiao long bao (小笼包).

8) decorative buns shaped like animals, plants or cartoon figures. For eg, you can shape them as rabbits, piglets, dogs, porcupines, roses, peaches, just use your imagination!

9) halal buns - muslim readers are more than welcome to participate and submit your version of halal buns.

10) [Newly added] Hong Kong baked Polo Buns / Pineapple Buns (港式菠萝包) - can be plain, with custard filling or char siew filling.

11) [Newly added] - Hakka Hee Pan (客家喜粄)

We do not accept 
1) dim sum in general, such as siew mai (烧卖), har kow (虾饺), potstickers (锅贴), jian jiao (煎饺), and dumplings (饺子) etc, as these dim sum have already been featured under Dim Sum Affair (May 2012).

2) western style baked buns.

Small Small Baker/Aspiring Bakers

Who can join?
Everybody, whether you have a blog or not, just as long as you fulfill the requirements.

Just email your recipe with the title "Aspiring Bakers #31" and send to everybodyeatswell[at]gmail[dot]com in the following format:                     
Your name or nickname: 
Your blog name (omit this if you do not have a blog):
Name of your bake:
URL of your post (pls do not give your homepage url):
URL or attachment of your photo (one photo for each entry):

(If you are attaching a photo in your email, pls limit the photo size to 500kb).

How to join?
Step 1
Steam, bake or fry any buns in the month of May 2013. You may submit more than 1 entry.

Step 2
Post it on your blog between 01 May 2013 to 31 May 2013.
Your post must include the recipe or link to the original recipe. If you are using a recipe from a book, please include the title and author of the book too.
Any entries that are posted outside the date range will not be accepted.
Any entries that do not include a recipe or link to the original recipe will not be accepted too.

Step 3
Please mention that you are submitting your post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and provide a link back to this post HERE.
Entries will not be accepted if the above is not included. 

If you have problems finding a good dough recipe, or the right ingredients, just drop me an email and I will try my best to help! I have bookmarked quite a number of dough recipes with good reviews but have only tested 3 recipes so far, so be my guest and email me or leave me a comment, if you wish to help try out a good dough recipe!

As of 17 23 May, we have got 30 37 entries now, but we welcome more, the more the merrier!!! Anybody would like to submit recipes for Xiao Long Bao, Longevity Peach Bun and Kong Bah Bao? :p

If you are interested in the previous Aspiring Bakers event, hop on to AB #30 - It's Tea Time hosted by FoodPlayground.


  1. Looking forward! If you have any good bao recipes that don't use shortening let me know. :)

  2. Hi SSB,
    You can try this recipe which I did last year using corn oil instead of shortening, a easy and good recipe from Aunty Yochana. The buns will be a bit yellowish if you use vegetable oil, but the taste will not be affected.

    I used shortening and followed the same ingredients for the recent 2 recipes I tried, I think you can use vegetable oil to replace too, I will post them up soon.

    1. I just posted another char siew bao recipe, the HK smiling char siew bao, ingredients include HK flour/cake flour, wheat starch, icing sugar, shortening/veg oil, baking powder and instant yeast. You can replace the shortening with veg oil, not a problem. Very good results with this recipe, you can give it a try.

    2. Thanks for the links! So there isn't any difference in the softness of the bao between using shortening and oil? Only colour different? That will be good cos I don't really like using shortening in my bakes. Another question, any difference between hong kong flour and bao flour?

    3. I remember the char siew baos (yochana's recipe) I did using oil were very soft and fluffy too, only the colour were a little yellowish. I can't really say which recipe is better (with or without shortening) cos they were not made on the same day, haha!

      Yes, shortening + the right flour (HK flour/pau flour/cake flour - all bleached low protein flour) will give the buns a white colour. Technically, bao flour is the same as HK flour, but some bao flour comes pre-mixed with added yeast. In SG, the Prima brand names its HK Flour as Superlite flour, whereas Bake King calls it HK Flour. But I am using neither.

    4. ssb, if you don't mind, shortening can replace with lard ( make yourself, use quality fat.As I know shortening is made to replace lard.

  3. You're so pro! You even have a pao steamer! :) No wonder you're more suited to host this AB than anyone else! ;)

    1. Hi,
      This aluminium steamer was the cheapest I could get from Chinatown, cost only 17 euro! Those electronic type of steamers here were either too expensive (at least 70 euro for a good one?) or too small. :)

      It has served me well and I have used it so much that the bottom of the pot was already eroded and couldn't be used anymore on my new stove, so I just placed the steaming compartments over a stainless steel pot.

  4. Your char siu pau looks irresistible :-) Love the white soft and fluffy texture of the dough. Hmmmm..... very challenging, indeed.

    1. Hi Nasifriet,
      The dough is quite easy, not sticky at all and very pliable. The result is soft and fluffy indeed, even on the 2nd day. The only challenge for me is the pleating, I can't pleat decently even after watching youtube videos many times. :p

  5. Hi Bee,
    I am happy to see Polo Bao is also included.
    My kids loves Polo Bao. Wil love to post that soon.

    1. Hi Mui Mui,
      Polo Bao is on my URGENT to-do-list, hehe. I have shortlisted 3 recipes, which recipe you using, pm me ;)

  6. Look forward to participating - must find time! Great idea to include different variations of baos :) Not sure which one I will make :)

    1. Yah, too many choices! It takes quite a bit of time to make a batch of buns, I dun think I have time to try all of them. :) I would just have to wait for the submissions and admire the buns from far. :)

  7. Hai, i just send a mail to u but it couldn't reach. wat happen . is this your email correct like this o i have type a wrong? can u check for me.

  8. Hi xing hui,
    It is everybodyeatswell with a "s" in between. Pls try again. :)

  9. Great idea! I've never try making pao before . This will be a great opportunity to give it a try & join this awesome challenge. I've bookmarked quite a number of pao recipe & now it's about time to give a go! LOL

    1. Hi Kit,
      Yes indeed it is a good opportunity for you to try making buns the first time, hope to see a few entries from you! :)

  10. Just check this post and notice that Hakka Hee Pan is included, so happy...finally I am qualify to submit my post. Thanks!

  11. Isn't that a dream pau steamer and you could get it in Belgium? Looking forward to all pau recipes here. thanks for compiling them here I am ready to try other kind of Baos recipes.

    1. Yes, I think I bought it for < 20 euro in Antwerp chinatown. The pot was already corroded since last year and can't be used anymore on my new vitroceramic stove, so I normally put the steamer compartments over a big stainless pot and it still works.

      I am sure you can get the aluminium steamer in Holland. Check out this link, they will probably be able to advise you :)

  12. So many recipes and so few eaters at home:P Wish I have more guinea pigs at home at times when I am in the baking mood!

    1. Jeannie, I only have 1 main eater at home (myself), and two small kaylehfeys (my 2 small kids). Imagine I have to finish all the buns by myself if they don't turn out well! :)

  13. Thanks for organising this. I have yet to make any steam bun. Just got a packet of bao flour from the shop the other day. Just wonder is it any different to use Bao flour from any flour? Especially making chinese steam bun.

    Look forward to see others blogger bun creation . Will try the recipe and make some steam bun myself soon .

    1. Some bao flour comes premixed with yeast. You can refer this link for more info.

  14. Miss B,

    Thanks for your reply . Saw your Pan Fried bun pic. Was thinking to make this as breakkie that is why I bought the bao flour.

    The bao flour I have is Taiwan brand. Also saw the bao flour come premixed with yeast. Thanks for the link , is useful and helpful as substitute flour in between.

    Will hope to make another bun to submit to AB #31 before the closing date.

    Happy baking. Your siew bao looks delicious too. I guess the reason my bun did not open is cause my top dough was quite thick. I have to learn to roll the dough thinner next time .

  15. Hi! I chanced upon your website when goggling "what is pau flour". Very informative breakdown on the different types of flour!!

    WIll like to ask if you have any bao or mantou recipes that doesn't require pau flour? Read from your website that pau flour uses bleached flour. I'm trying to expand my picky toddler breakfast menu - will try not to let him consume bleached flour if possible as he is not yet 2yo.


    1. Hi Jen,
      Thanks for dropping by. Most of my bao recipes used cake flour, which is by the way bleached. There is 1 recipe using all-purpose/plain flour, if you don't mind the yellowish tinge, you should try that, I believe it's a Aunty Yochana recipe. Just click on the "Bao/Pau" label and you will see them.


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