Updated: Aug 22
If this is your first time making Bao dough, I have included some information below as a guideline for you and as you may or may not know, I sometimes also like to include some savoury recipes in my post as well, and this happens to be one of them. ^_^
Use Bao flour to achieve a white dough
A lot of recipes for bao would call for all purpose flour or plain flour which has a low gluten protein as compared to bread flour. This is because low protein flour yields a softer texture for your bao but still have enough gluten for a mild chewiness to the dough.
If you are not familiar with making Bao and it is not something that you are familiar with, there are actually flours mainly manufactured just for the purpose of making Boas. These flours are usually called the Bao Flour that has been processed to a finer mill and yields a whiter bao that normal plain wheat flour is unable to give. Plain flour usually make Baos that has a yellow hue to them and if you don't mind that at all, they can be a great substitute if you are unable to find Bao flour in your area.
Bao Flour also has a slightly lower gluten content as compared to plain or all purpose flour with approximately between 8% to 10% protein and can easily be found in most Asian grocery.
Another alternative for a soft white bao is using cake flour which are often bleached in manufacturing that changes the properties of the flour making it whiter and softer in texture. Cake flour, however, has the lowest protein content out of all wheat flour ranging from 6-8%. If you do choose to use cake flour, add a dash of vinegar to strengthen the gluten for a more elastic dough.
Wrinkle Bao Dough after steaming
If you tend to get wrinkle on top of your Baos, there are two main culprit to that. One of the reason that Bao Dough wrinkles is due to the rapid change of temperature after steaming. When you steam the bao with the cover, make sure to steam them over simmering and not rolling boil water and once they are done, turn the heat off and leave the Bao to cool slightly with the lid still covering the steaming basket for 2 to 3 minutes. This will ensure that the Baos do not cool down too quickly which can cause the skin on the surface to shrink and wrinkle.
Another reason that causes Baos to wrinkle is creating too much air pockets in the dough. When I make Baos, I knead the dough with cold milk ensuring that I do not activate the yeast during the mixing process too early. Once mixed, the dough is kneaded lightly by hand until smooth then leave covered on the bench for an hour. The dough at this point will rise slightly to 20% from its original size. You do not want the dough to fully proof at this point as this will create a lot of air pocket in the Baos causing it to rise rapidly and wrinkle when you steam them.
Once the dough are rested, roll it to 5mm in thickness, cut them to individual discs then only leave to fully proof before it hits the steaming basket.
Freezing Steamed Bao and Storage
Steamed Baos should be consumed the same day that they are prepared for the best eating quality. You can however pack the steam Baos in an air tight zip lock bag with non stick parchment paper between them and freeze for up to 6 months. Simply thaw in the fridge before steaming to serve again.
Serves: 8 portions
Preparation Time: 2 Hours
240 g Plain Flour or Bao Flour
10 g / 1 tbsp Corn-starch or Cornflour
4 g / 1 tsp Instant-dry yeast
6g /1 tsp Baking powder
8 g /1 tsp Caster Sugar
25 g /2 tbsp Vegetable oil (e.g., canola or sunflower oil) + extra for brushing
140 - 150 mL Cold Full Cream Milk
8 Chicken Slices (thigh) - slice to two pieces each to even thickness
1 Sliced Ginger - Thumb size
1 tbsp Diced Garlic
2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine
1tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 Bird Eye Chilli - Finely chopped
240 g Mix vegetables
( I use a combination of sliced carrot, cos lettuce, red cabbage and sweet corn)
1/2 cup Apple cider Vinegar
1tbsp. Caster Sugar
1/2 cup Water
60 g Plain flour
35 g Corn Flour
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Fine Salt
Qs Vegetable oil for frying
qs. Mayonnaise - to finish
For the Chicken Marinate
Combine all the marinate ingredients and toss the chicken to fully coat. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
For the pickled salad
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and let the salad pickle overnight in the fridge.
For the Bao
1. Place all the ingredients into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes until the ingredients come together to a dough. Increase the speed to medium speed and continue to mix for another 8 - 12 minutes or until the dough becomes pliable and looks smooth.
2. Place the bao dough on the bench and place a cling wrap over it to prevent from drying. Leave to rest for an hour or until the dough rises slightly to around 20%. Do not fully proof the bao dough as this can cause the dough to become over aerated and wrinkle when steamed.
3. Lightly Dust the rested dough with some flour then roll the dough with the help of a rolling pin to approximately 5 mm in thickness. Dip an 85mm round cutter in some flour to prevent sticking and cut out individual disc.
4. Roll each disc of bao dough to a elongated oval shape, brush the top with some vegetable oil then fold it over in half to form a pocket. Place the rolled bao pocket onto individual cut out square piece of non stick parchment paper. Repeat the same process for the rest of the bao disc then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to proof at room temperature for approximately 1 - 2 hours depending on the ambient of your kitchen. The bao should feel light and airy when you try to pick them up.
When the bao is ready, brush the top with some vegetable oil.
5. Heat a pot with some water then place the steaming basket on top. Turn the water down to a simmer then place the bao a few batches at a time in the basket and cover with the lid that is wrapped around with a tea towel. (The tea towel helps to absorb any steam to prevent it from creating condensation which can drop back onto the surface of the bao and make them soggy.)
6. Steam for approximately 10 minutes, ensuring that the water do not run dry underneath. Turn off the heat then leave the bao with the lid still on for 2 minutes before removing the lid. Remove the bao from the steamer basket and continue with the next batch.
Frying the Chicken
Place the vegetable oil into a pot and heat it to 175˚C to 180˚C. Place the marinate chicken and toss them in the frying flour then dust off any excess.
When the oil is ready, place the coated chicken in batches and fry until they are fully cooked through. This will only take a few minutes depending on how thin you have sliced the chicken.
Remove from the oil and place them on a grease proof paper to soak up any excess oil.
Stuff the bao with some of the pickled vegetable then place two slices of the fried chicken and finish with some kewpie mayonnaise.