Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dim Sum Bao - Hongkong Style

This was my first attempt making a smiling bao.

Original recipe is a 12 hours Pau skin from Rusti of KC. However, instead of letting the dough proved for 12 hours, I proved it for 8 & 1/2 hours.

I made the starter dough at 10 pm the night before and the next morning at about 6.30 am the dough looked like this:

For the starter dough, after mixing the dough was very very sticky. The next morning, it would double and when you touched it, it would be soft and "moist".

The good thing about this dough is that there is no additional time to prove the dough after the fillings are done. Simply steam immediately. And within 10 minutes you have piping hot bao for breakfast. :D

When my timer sound, I was very worry and excited to lift up my wok cover. ..... To my greatest joy, the six buns (and subsequent three batches) were ALL smiling happily at me! :D The texture of the bun was very soft and fluffy, just like from a dim sum restaurant! :D

I'm glad that from now on I'm able to enjoy this type of bao right in my own home early in the morning. :)

Recipe as follows:

Starter Dough:
110g tap water
185g Hong kong flour
1/2 tsp Double Acting Baking Powder
1/8 tsp instant yeast

Mix everything together and leave to prove in a plastic container for 12 hours. (I proved for 8 & 1/2 hours, in a mixing bowl, covered with wet towel, left it in my oven - power off, door closed.)

Skin dough:
375g Hong kong flour
200g sugar
23g shortening
75g tap water
20g double acting baking powder
5g ammonia
1/2 tsp vinegar

Add all the above ingredients to the starter dough. Using a dough hook, mix on Kenwood speed 3 for 6 minutes. (Mix till the dough is not sticky and form a ball.)

Take out dough and scale to 30g each. (I used 40g each, the size was just right to me.)
Shape each piece into a ball before rolling.
Fill with chilled meat filling and steam immediately. (I steam at high heat for 10 minutes.)

1. Maximum proving time for starter dough is 14 hours. Over fermenting will make your baos sour.
2. This recipe will yield 30 buns if you scaled to 30g each.
3. When rolling dough, keep the edges thinner and the centre portion slightly thicker.
4. For char siew baos, steam for 10 minutes.
5. For baos with raw meat fillings, steam for 15 minutes.
6. If making big chicken/meat baos, steam for 20 minutes.
7. Prepare the fillings after you have made the starter dough and leave it in the fridge. (Chilled fillings is easier to handle.)

For the fillings, I used a char siew fillings recipe from Gina of KC. The fillings was equally good and yummy! :)

The char siew fillings recipe as follows:

300g Char siew pork, chopped finely (buy from hawker stall)
3 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
4 shallots, diced finely

120ml water
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar **
1 tbsp tapioca flour (I omitted)
1 tbsp corn flour (I use 2 tbsp since I didn't have tapioca flour on hand.)
1 tsp plain flour

1. Mixed the seasonings together in a bowl.
2. Stir fry onions in the wok.
3. Add seasoning into wok to stir fry. Fry till it becomes thick and sticky.
4. Add diced char siew pork and continue to stir fry.
5. Lastly, blend/mix in the roasted sesame seeds.
6. Turn off heat, remove to cool completely before using.

** For me, I found my char siew fillings on a little sweet side. I suspect it could be the char siew I bought, so please adjust the sugar accordingly.


  1. Wow, your char siew baos look so good!!! Can I have one please?! I've wanted to make baos but I kept putting it off, as I am really no good at making the fillings which requires cooking!

  2. Hi MH, great to see you back! Congrats, all the char siew baos are smiling! :)

  3. WOW I am a new reader of your blog and I must say your pau really looks delish!

    May I know how many pau this recipe yields?

    Can I freeze the pau after I steam it for the first time? And take out steam again whenever I want to eat again?

  4. wow your pau really looks delish!

    may i know how many pau this recipe yields?

    can i freeze the pau after i steam it the first time? and take it out to steam again whenever i want to eat again?

  5. Hi,
    My name is Sem.Just wish to check is the sugar for the skin dough is 20g or 200g as stated in the recipe?

  6. Happy Home Baker
    Hi! Thank you for your kind words. I'll give you not one, but more! :) Try cooking one of these days. Its' very easy. I'm sure you can do it. :)

    Small Small Baker
    Hi! Been lazy and lost the momentum to blog! :( Looking at the baos smiling bring great satisfaction and brighten my Saturday morning! :)

    Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, you can keep the "cooled" baos in the fridge and steam again whenever you want to eat. But please store them in an airtight container. For me, I kept them in my chiller compartment.

    This recipe yields 24 pieces if you're using 40g each.

    Hi Sem! It's 200g for the skin dough.

  7. hi there , lovely n yummy ..i am going to try baking them :)

    Would like to ask whenever did you pleat the pau very nicely to have such an effect smilling up so nicely Or can i just wrap it anyway i want..i'm not
    good in the wrapping part..lol


  8. Can I use white rice vinegar? is it the vinegar can be used for cooking too?

  9. Hi,Sue
    These baos are meant for steaming not baking! The baos "smile or split" because of the use of ammonia. It has nothing to do with wrapping it nicely, if I'm correct.

    Hi,Nicole! I use normal "white rice vinegar". Hope this help.

  10. hahaha sorry meant to write steaming not baking the boas..after shaping into a ball , did u roll thinly or thick before wrapping the filling inside. Wonder 5g of ammonia= 2tso issit.



  11. Hi Sue!
    For baos, I normally roll the sides thinly leaving the centre thick. I weigh all my ingredients usually. If I'm not mistaken 1 tsp = 5g.

  12. I can't really get ammonia here in KL :(

    Any substitution for it? What will happened if I omit this ingredient?

  13. Hi Nicole!
    I'm using ammonia from this brand: Bake King. Can you find this brand in KL? or other baking supply stores? This ammonia is commonly use in chinese snack "you tiao". As for substitution, I'm not very sure. If you omit ammonia, the baos will not split or smile. Hope these help.

  14. What a lovely name! The dim sum are totally smiling !

  15. hi MHK,
    Ur pics of ur char siew baos look so lovely tht i just had to try out this recipe. Thks for sharing this recipe in ur blog and also thks to Rusti in KC. This is the 1st time tht my paus ever "smiled" !! Ive tried many pau recipes n the texture of the paus for this recipe is also the closest to the those sold in dim sum restaurants!

    here is a pic of my baos - http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii13/sspaks64/smilingcharsiewpaus.jpg


  16. Hi Susanna!

    Hey your baos are equally lovely! :D You remind me that I've not thanked Rustic....Oops! Very happy that your baos "smiled" too! :)

  17. Hi MH

    Wow lovely baos. I have not made these for a long time. After seeing yours and Susanna's sucess, I am tempted to make some.

    Ginny aka Rusti
    (BTW,my nick is Rusti and not Rustic)

  18. Hi Rusti (Ginny)!
    Thank you for visiting my blog! :) Thank you once again for your wonderful recipe. :) Next round, I may try out without adding the ammonia and see how it turns out.

    Apologize! I have amended your nick name.

  19. Hi MHK, I love reading ur blog.My family love to eat "smiling Pau" I did try making them, but the ammonia smell is quite strong so after steaming the pau I have to throw away as no nobody interest to eat.Can I know after steaming, do they have the ammonia smell.


  20. Hi STT
    Strange! mine didn't have any smell! Did you put too much ammonia than required? I read somewhere you could add some vinegar in the boiling water to "kill" the smell. Hope this helps.

  21. I just tried this after two big blunders. Finally I got some decent buns. Just wanted to know whether you found the ammonia overpowering and whether I can reduce this. Thanks. Precious moments

  22. Hi MH,
    Love your blog. What is HK flour? What's the difference between Hk flour and all-purpose flour? Thanks.

    Kate at Portland, USA

  23. Hi Precious moments!
    I didn't find the ammonia over-powering cos' I simple just dump it into my dough! But yesterday night, out of curiosity, I open the cover and put it near my nose.... Oh Gosh!.. I nearly fainted!

    I'm not so sure whether any reduction will affect the texture or not. But one thing for sure: if you omit the ammonia, your baos will not be soft and fluffy. How I know? Well, I made a batch without the stinky powder and guess what? my baos still split open (but not that pretty), but without the fluffiness. It's still soft but not as soft as with the ammonia. Try it and you'll know the great difference. Guess ammonia makes the baos soft and fluffy, and not "smile". Hope the infos are useful to you. Good luck in your next try! :)

    Hi kate!
    Thank you for your visit! :) Hongkong flour is a kind of low-gluten flour. HTH

  24. hello, your bao looks nice! wonder if the skin sticks to the teeth for this recipe?

  25. Hi Anonymous!
    It depends on how you knead the dough. Over-knead or under-knead affects the texture. HTH.

  26. thank u for your reply. will try one of these days.

  27. hello i'd like to know what you mean by the "Char siew pork" that you by because i live in france and they don't sell that here. Can I do it myself? with what part of the pork? i love your blog thank you for the great recipes^^

  28. Hi,Thanks for the recipe. I made some yesterday for my friends and they all commented that they were very good. I used 1 tsp ammonia powder but find the smell a bit overpowering so added some vinegar to the boiling water and managed to reduce the smell. I do not have double acting baking powder so used the normal one. What difference does it make if I used double acting baking powder?

  29. Hi MH,

    Your boas looks very tempting and makes me want to try ur recipe but can you tell me how to measure 1/8tsp yeast? The amount is too little for me to estimate.

    Thank you.