Is there anything better than baking? Personally, I don’t think there is. There’s just something magical about baking a cake from scratch that gives you a warm and wholesome feeling on the inside.
However, I also understand how baking the same recipe all the time can become a boring and unappealing experience – so why not try something new?
If you are looking for an easy way to spice up your baking habits, then there are hundreds of Asian recipes that you can prepare at home. From Japanese sponge cake to Chinese butter cookies – there really are no limits on what you can make.
And to help you along, I have chosen one of my favorite recipes for Chinese custard buns – so you can try making them at home.
Chinese buns or Bao are yeast-based buns that can be found across China, where they are traditionally filled with meat, vegetables or custard. Custard buns are known primarily for their sweet filling and soft consistency – think eating a giant custard-filled pillow.
Although they can be complex to make, I assure you that my recipe is an easy one to follow. So why not check it out and make these delicious buns today.
Step One: Make The Dough
- Warm Water (½ cup)
- Active Dry Yeast (2 tsp)
- Sugar (4 tbsp)
- Cake Flour (1 ⅔ cup)
- Baking Powder (2 tsp)
- Shortening (1 ½ tsp)
- To begin making your dough, add the water to a small bowl and warm it up in the microwave. You can do this by placing the microwave on medium-high heat and then warming the water for 30 seconds.
- When the water is warm, add half the sugar and active dry yeast to the bowl. You should then let this sit for 5 minutes until the yeast has been activated. You will know when the yeast is ready when bubbles begin to form on the surface of the water.
- While the yeast is activating, take the flour and baking powder and combine them in a large mixing bowl. Once you have done this, take your activated yeast and pour it into the mixing bowl. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until fully incorporated – the final mixture should be moist but not wet.
- After this has been done, you can begin kneading the dough. Add the mixture to an electric mixer for 10 minutes, until it has taken on a smooth consistency.
- When this has been accomplished, add the shortening and then knead the dough for another 5 minutes. This should result in a soft dough that does not stick to your hands when touched.
- Once the dough is finished, transfer it to a large bowl that has been greased with butter or cooking oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to prove in a warm place for 2 hours. This should help it to double in size.
Step Two: Make The Custard
- All-Purpose Flour (1 tsp)
- Cornstarch (3 tbsp)
- Granulated Sugar (¼ cup)
- Egg Yolks (x3, large)
- Whole Milk (1 cup)
- Butter (1 tbsp)
- Vanilla Extract (¼ tsp)
- Make the custard filling while the dough is still proving. Take the cornstarch, flour and half of the sugar and mix them in a small bowl.
- Place the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and stir them until the yolks have broken.
- Then add the whole milk and remaining sugar to a small saucepan, and place it over medium heat. Stir the milk until the sugar has dissolved and then allow it to reach a temperature of 49 C (120 F). If the milk is beginning to foam, then the heat is too much and you could risk damaging the custard.
- While the mill begins to heat up, take the bowl of dry ingredients and mix them into the egg yolks. Then wish the mixture until it turns into a slight and even paste.
- Take your milk from the stove and begin slowly pouring it into the egg paste – you should only add ¼ cup at a time, and stir continuously in between. The mixture should begin to take on a thin and smooth consistency.
- Transfer the mixture to the saucepan and place it on low heat. Whisk the custard until it begins to thicken – this process can take around 5 minutes to complete.
- When the custard is thick, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla extract and stir until incorporated.
- Strain the finished custard into a large bowl that has been lined with plastic wrap and then cover with plastic. Chill the custard in the refrigerator for 2 hours until it has cooled – you can speed up this process by placing the custard in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Step Three: Assemble The Buns
- Remove the risen dough from its bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled surface. Cut the dough into 16 even pieces – with each piece weighing around 27 grams.
- Take the pieces and roll them into small balls, then using a rolling pin flatten them into round discs. These should be thick in the middle and around 6-7cm in diameter.
- Take each disc individually and place a decent amount of custard in the middle of each one.
- When you have done this, wrap the dough around the custard until it has been fully covered. Repeat this process until all 16 pieces have been evenly filled.
- Once the buns are ready, place them on a parchment-lined baking tray and cover them in plastic wrap. Allow the buns to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes – make sure each bun has rested for an equal amount of time.
Step Four: Steaming The Buns
- Prepare your steamer by adding 7cm of water to the pot, before placing it over medium-high heat until it begins to boil.
- Place the proven buns onto the steaming rack, because the buns will expand you should make sure to leave 5cm of space between each one.
- Cover and let the buns steam for 10 minutes. Once the buns have been steamed, remove the rack and place it onto a trivet.
- Uncover the rack to allow the steam to escape, then transfer the finished buns to a serving plate. Then allow the buns to cool for 5 minutes before eating.
- Follow this process until all the buns have been steamed, then kick up your feet and enjoy your treats!