Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Bao, bau, baozi, mantou, bakpoa, paoare, siopao, or humbow; you probably know them best as Steamed Buns or Boa Buns.  They’re those soft fluffy white pockets filled with a sweet or savory filling.

Baos or whatever you call them originated in Northern China where wheat instead of rice is widely grown.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years.  Legend has it that Baos originated during the Three Kingdom Period when a Chinese general needed to cross a raging river with his army.  To ensure safe crossing the people on the other side of the river demanded that the general sever the head of 50 men; instead the general used large meat filled dough balls which satisfied the demand.

Meat filled bao buns have always been a favorite in the Philippines where they are called Siopao, they’re also popular in Hawaii where they’re known as Manapua.  Both places have a large Chinese  population who introduced this delicacy many years ago.  In fact many countries with large Chinese communities have a version of this popular food.  Recently their popularity has increased worldwide.

Baos can be shaped into balls, as they were in the legend, or they can be folded like taco shells.  They can be filled with your favorite savory meats such as char siu or sweet roast pork, pork belly, and chicken curry; or they can be filled with sweets such as black bean paste, taro, or custard.

One of my favorite bao fillings is  Korean Fried Chicken, crispy fried chicken bites dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, sliced onions, and cucumbers.

Click here for the Korean Fried Chicken recipe!

Another favorite filling is Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs, thin slices of beef short ribs marinated in a sweet and salty sauce.  Then grilled and garnished with fresh green onions and sesame seeds.

Click here for the Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs recipe! 


But first things first, before you can fill steamed buns you must make them.  To make homemade buns you will need a steamer, I use bamboo steamer baskets, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Other than that making steamed buns are pretty easy using ingredients that are readily available if you don’t already have them in your kitchen.

So let’s make bao buns, then you can fill them with just about anything you desire.

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Bao Buns – Steamed Buns


3 3/4 Cups flour

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 Tsp. Instant Yeast

3 Tbs. Milk

3/4 Warm water

3 Tbs. Butter – softened

1 Tbs. Olive Oil


Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your standing mixer or a large bowl if kneading by hand.

Place warm water and milk in a separate bowl, stir in butter until it melts.

Using the dough hook of your mixer gradually stir liquid into flour mixtures.

Knead for 10 minutes either in your mixer or by hand.

Turn dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel.  Leave in a warm spot until dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Once dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured surface.  Gently knead dough for a couple of minutes then cut into 20 pieces which you will roll into balls.

Roll each ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.

Place on parchment paper while  you roll the rest of the balls.

Brush dough ovals with olive oil.

Place a chopstick in the middle of the dough oval and fold over.  It should now be shaped like a taco shell with a space in the fold where the chopstick is.  The oiled surface should be inside of the fold.

Slip chopstick out, place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and fold the rest of the ovals.

Cover pan with plastic wrap or towel making sure plastic doesn’t touch the dough as it will stick.

Leave to rise for another hour.

When dough has risen bring water in large pot or wok to a boil.  Place about 3-4 buns into a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.

Remove steamed buns from steamer basket and keep it on a plate in the oven to keep warm.

Fill and serve!

Homemade Steamed Bao Buns
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Cheesy Ensaymada – Filipino Brioche

Cheesy Ensaymada – Filipino Brioche

Ensaymada is one of my favorite Filipino treats.  It has been a popular Filipino roll for over 4 centuries ever since it was adapted from the Spanish pastry called Ensaimada which originated is Mallorca, Spain.

There or many versions of this Filipino roll which like a brioche is sweet and fluffy.  Many bakeries specialize in this yummy pastry, a couple of my favorites are Goldilocks and Red Ribbon.  Unlike the brioche which has no topping Ensaymadas are slathered in butter, dipped in sugar and sprinkled with cheese, in many cases “queso de bola” the Filipino name for Edam.

Since it’s a family favorite it’s no wonder that the aunties have their own favorite recipe.  In fact there are one or two aunties who are known for making Ensaymada, a treat which they bring to most family gatherings.

But one can’t rely on the aunties to make this favorite roll, specially since we all live so far apart.  That’s why I’ve started making Ensaymada at home, using auntie’s recipe of course!

The ensaymada dough is rolled and placed into tart pans, it’s the best way to ensure uniform size and shape.  I use these 5″ aluminum tart pans I buy from Amazon.  I’ve found it was the least expensive way to buy them.  And of course being Asian I wash and reuse them!

If I can’t find Edam cheese I use grated cheddar cheese instead.  The other ingredients are things you probably already have in the pantry and fridge.  It also calls for a dozen egg yolks, I know you’re left trying to figure out what to do with the egg whites!  How about making Pavlovas?  Here’s my Pavlova recipe, it’s definitely worth a try!

The Ensaymada recipe is pretty easy, but it does take several hours because the dough has to rise.  I usually start early in the morning and am done sometime in the afternoon, depending on how fast the dough rises.  I use the dough hook on my stand mixer to knead the dough, but you can also knead it by hand.

Homemade Ensaymada may take time and patience, but it is definitely worth the effort!

Cheesy Ensaymada


1 Cup Warm Water

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 Tbs. Yeast

8 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Cup Whole Milk

1 Cup Sugar

12 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Butter softened

24 Tsp. Grated Edam


1 Stick Butter softened

1/2 Cup Sugar

Grated Edam


Mix Warm Water, 2 Tbs. sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl.

Let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes, it should be foamy.

Add 1 Cup of flour to yeast mixture and mix well.

Let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, set your timer so it doesn’t over rise.

Add milk, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, and butter to the yeast mixture, mix well.

Add remaining 7 cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix well between additions.

Knead dough until flour is all combined, do not over knead.

Divide dough into 24 balls working 1 tsp. cheese into each ball.

Flatten each ball with a rolling pin to about 1/2″ thick then roll into a cigar shape that’s about 10″ long rope.

Coil rope into each tart pan.

Place in a warm place and let rise for 3-4 hour.  Top of roll will be above tart pan rim.

Pre-heat over to 325 degrees. Once it reaches temperature wait 10 minutes then put ensaymada in the over.  (I place tart pans on a large baking sheet and slide the whole sheet in the oven.

Bake 7 Minutes then rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Remove from pans and brush tops with softened butter.

Dip each roll in sugar then sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Wrap each roll in plastic wrap.

Rolls may be frozen by placing wrapped rolls in a freezer bag.  Warm frozen rolls in microwave for about 1 minute.

They are delicious for breakfast!

Cheesy Ensaymada - Filipino Brioche
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Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Greek Kourabies, Melting Moments, Meltaways, or Snowball Cookies; whatever you call them these little balls of sweetness are delicious.

Traditionally made with chopped nuts these sugar coated morsels melt in your mouth. They’re the perfect cookies to serve at tea time, snack time, or anytime.

I’ve always loved these cookies and include them in my holiday baking. But I prefer them without nuts, so when I make them I simply omit them.

Here’s the recipe!


1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired
Powdered sugar for coating


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Fit standing mixer with paddle attachment
  3. Mix butter and sugar together until creamy
  4. Mix in vanilla extract
  5. Add in flour and nuts (if using nuts) and mix until soft dough balls form
  6. Using a 1” cookie scooper or tablespoon form 1” dough balls
  7. Place balls on ungreased baking sheet or one covered with parchment paper or silicone mat
  8. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until balls are set but before they turn brown
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes
  10. Place about 1 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl
  11. Roll each cookie in sugar then place on a cooling rack
  12. Cool completely then roll in sugar again
  13. Store cookies in airtight containers



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