Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year: Bunches of Buns

I’ve been wanting to make Chinese buns (“baozi” in Mandarin) for a while, and what better time to make them than Chinese New Year! Baozi are one of my favorite things that my mom would make for us kids at home, so this was definitely a recipe I wanted to try out on my own. I did most of this based on memory of how my mom used to make hers with the exception of the egg custard filling and crunchy sweet topping recipes.

I made four different kinds: steamed buns filled with ground beef, steamed buns filled with red bean paste, and baked buns filled with egg custard or red bean paste – these are my absolute favorite to get at a Chinese bakery, typically called “pineapple buns” because they have a crunchy sweet topping that makes them look like pineapples.

With all of the ingredients and directions below, it may seem a bit overwhelming to make baozi, but honestly, it’s really not that hard.  Especially since my mom taught me this genius biscuit shortcut.  I’m sure making your own dough is quite easy, but instead of waiting around for your dough to rise, why not use some that’s already made?

For the meat buns, I used ground beef because that’s all I had at my grocery store – most of the time in Chinese restaurants, you’ll probably see ground pork or some mix of ground pork and shrimp.  You can stuff your baozi with whatever filling you prefer, the possibilities are endless. 

I was pretty happy with how all my baozi turned out.  Throughout the evening, I somehow managed to consume 10+ buns without a problem.  I call it quality control =).  My pineapple buns definitely were not up to Chinese bakery standards, but they were respectable for my first try.  Next time, I will try to make bbq pork buns…yum!

Red bean paste

Ground beef filling

 Crunchy sweet topping

 Egg custard filling

Buns ready to be steamed or baked

Buns with the twisted top are ground beef, the others are red bean

 Pretty pineapple buns

 Sweet buns

Steamed buns
Bunches o’ Buns
Egg custard filling / crunchy topping courtesy of Christine's Kitchen Chronicles
All else courtesy of my mommy

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes per batch
Yield: 60 buns


1 can red bean paste
Ground beef filling (recipe below)
¾ cup egg custard filling (recipe below)
Crunchy sweet topping (recipe below)
6 cans refrigerated biscuit dough (usually 10 biscuits a can)
1 cup flour

Ground Beef Filling
¾ lb ground beef
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 egg
2 green onions
1 tsp grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

Egg Custard Filling
⅜ ounce custard powder*
1⅞ ounces wheat starch (tungmin flour)*
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
*Note: Used about 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Pudding Mix (NOT instant) and ¼ cup corn starch

Crunchy Sweet Topping
6 Tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 g salt (a pinch)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk powder
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Yellow food coloring
Another egg for egg wash


Egg Custard Filling

1. Combine custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix), wheat starch (or corn starch), and sugar in a nonstick pan.

2. Add in sweetened condensed milk, and stir mixture over low heat until mixed-- then add butter. Bring mixture to simmer to thicken while stirring constantly. It should be like a paste-like consistency. 

3. Remove mixture from stove and allow to cool slightly.  When mixture has cooled, add egg, stirring constantly.

4. Divide dough into 12 portions, shaped into balls, cover with damp cloth, and set aside.

Ground Beef Filling

1. Mix all ingredients together until well combined.  Set aside until wrapping buns.

Crunchy Sweet Topping

1. Blend the butter and icing sugar together.  Butter must be at room temperature.

2. Add in salt, milk powder, vanilla, and food coloring, mix well. 

3. Add beaten egg and mix well.  Mix in flour.  Put mixture in refrigerator if too sticky to handle.

Wrapping the buns

1. Use one refrigerated biscuit per bun.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the biscuit dough so it’s roughly a circle with a diameter of five to six inches.  Be sure to use flour on your work surface so that the dough does not stick. 

2. Place about a tablespoon of your desired filling in the middle of the rolled out dough.

3. Gather the sides up into the center, pinch it tightly to close, and twist to secure.  For buns with meat inside, the twisted portion should be right side up.  For sweet buns, it should be face down. 

Steaming buns

1. I used the top of my rice cooker to steam the buns – a bamboo steamer would be optimal.  Steam buns over boiling water for 15-20 minutes.  Buns will roughly double in size, so make sure you leave 1-2 inches between buns prior to steaming. 

Baking the buns

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. I baked only the sweet buns in the oven.  Flatten the sweet topping dough and place it on top of the buns (it will be quite sticky). 

3. Brush the buns with the egg wash.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


sonoeun said...

i love egg custard buns!! good job sandra! :)

Christine @ Christine's Kitchen Chronicles said...

Aw sorry that the bolo bao were not up to your standards. Unfortunately the nearest Chinese bakeries are hours away from me so I find it's not bad in a pinch ;). Thanks for trying it and linking back!

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