Steamed Buns (Banh Bao) Recipe with Scientific Explanations

Steamed Buns (Banh Bao) Recipe with Scientific Explanations

Steamed Buns (Banh Bao) Recipe with Scientific Explanations

Steamed Buns (Banh Bao) Recipe with Scientific Explanations
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Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese


  • Steamer


  • 250 g Cake Flour
  • 250 g All-purpose Flour
  • 20 g Baking Powder
  • 7 g Active Dry Yeast
  • 250 ml Warm water
  • 100 g sugar
  • 20 mL Vegetable Oil
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • Filling of choice


  • Yeast Activation:
    Mix warm water and sugar until dissolved. Add the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes until frothy.
    Scientific Explanation: The sugar acts as food for the yeast, and the warm water activates the yeast cells. As the yeast consumes sugar, it produces carbon dioxide gas, creating a frothy appearance.
  • Preparing the Dough:
    Sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
    Create a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and oil. Gradually mix to form a dough.
    Scientific Explanation: Sifting aerates the flours, ensuring an even distribution of ingredients. The combination of cake flour (lower protein content) and all-purpose flour (higher protein content) aims to balance softness and structure in the bun.
  • Kneading:
    Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
    Scientific Explanation: Kneading develops the gluten network in the dough. Gluten is the protein in flour that gives structure and elasticity. A well-kneaded dough can trap more carbon dioxide, leading to fluffier buns.
  • First Rise:
    Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours, or until doubled.
    Scientific Explanation: This is fermentation. Yeast continues consuming sugars and produces carbon dioxide, making the dough rise. The warm environment speeds up this yeast activity.
  • Preparing the Filling:
    Ensure meats are fully cooked for the filling.
    Scientific Explanation: Steaming primarily cooks the dough. The filling, especially meat, may not reach a safe temperature if added raw.
  • Shaping the Buns:
    Deflate the risen dough and divide into balls.
    Flatten each ball, add filling, and seal.
    Scientific Explanation: Deflating (or punching down) the dough redistributes yeast cells and evens out temperature, ensuring a uniform second rise.
  • Second Rise:
    Arrange the buns on a tray with space between them. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
    Scientific Explanation: A second fermentation period allows for additional flavor development and a finer crumb structure in the final bun.
  • Steaming:
    Steam buns in a preheated steamer for 12-15 minutes.
    Scientific Explanation: Steaming provides moist heat. The baking powder reacts under this heat, releasing carbon dioxide, which contributes to the rising of the buns. The moist environment ensures the buns remain soft and don't form a crust.
  • Serve and Enjoy!
    The combination of fermentation (yeast activity) and chemical leavening (baking powder) ensures a fluffy and soft texture in the Banh Bao. Using a blend of cake and all-purpose flour strikes a balance between softness (from the cake flour) and structure (from the all-purpose flour).
Keyword banh bao, baozi, steam buns
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