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Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns Recipe 莲蓉包 (with Photo Tutorial)

Friday, February 18, 2011 | Labels: , , , , |

I am so pleased to present today steamed Chinese lotus paste buns from my humble kitchen - I'm still a little surprised at how good they were since this was my first attempt at making steamed buns or pao/ bao at home, I guess with a bit of determination and a decent recipe, one can't go too far off the mark, yes even for a novice like yours truly.  Biting into these piping hot soft buns with just the right amount of lotus paste oozing out was pure bliss - steamed buns are one of my favourite Chinese snacks and are something I must order whenever I have dim sum at restaurants.  I was a tad apprehensive before and while making the buns as I have heard that the dough for the buns may be a little tricky in different weathers but luckily the stars were aligned right today - oh and did I mention that it was a really fun process?  I used pao flour which is a highly bleached version of all-purpose flour and this is because if you use regular all-purpose flour, the buns will take on a yellowish tinge as the flour is not bleached.  The dough was quite easy to make and proofing time required was only around one hour.  I used store-bought lotus paste as the filling but of course if you are ambitious enough, you can opt to make your own lotus paste.

Chinese Lotus Buns

Whenever I eat steamed buns, I actually prefer to eat the skin more than the filling - I loved the soft texture of the skin on these buns and you can also substitute the filling with red bean (azuki) paste or coconut jam (kaya).  Chinese steamed buns can be either sweet or savoury, fillings range from meat and vegetables or just vegetables, custard and of course the version presented today, lotus paste.  I made these buns totally by hand - it is quite important to ensure that you don't skimp on the kneading parts, if not the skin will turn out too doughy.  In addition, steam the buns over high heat to ensure the skin does not turn mushy.  I love steamed buns piping hot and served with some good Chinese tea (also piping hot!).

Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns

Do give this easy recipe a try and have some homemade Chinese steamed buns whenever you want!

Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns

Step-by-step photos after the jump.



1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup pao flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 tbsps butter, melted


Enough lotus paste (You should be able to find packets or canned lotus paste in most Asian grocery stores)

Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns


1.  Combine yeast with 2 tbsps of warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp pao flour.  Mix well.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let stand for about 15 minutes, until the mixture becomes frothy.  If your mixture does not froth, it means the yeast is no longer active, you will have to redo this step.


2.  Sift remaining pao flour and self-rising flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar, yeast mixture, warm water and melted butter.  Use a wooden spoon to mix to form a soft dough.


3.  Dust your work surface with some pao flour.  Turn the soft dough onto the surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  This took me about 10 minutes as I wanted to make sure the texture would turn out soft.  You should knead until the dough no longer feels sticky.  Add more pao flour as you knead as and when required.


4.  Place dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel.  Allow to proof about 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.


5.  After the proofing, remove the dough from the bowl and place on a well-floured work surface again.  Gently punch down the dough and knead again for about 5-8 minutes until smooth.  Roll the dough gently.  Divide the dough into about 12 pieces.


6.  Roll each piece into loose ball and flatten with the palms of your hands into a flat circular shape.  Place about 1 heaped teaspoon of lotus paste into the middle and wrap around with dough.  Twist gently to seal.



Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns

7.  Place the dough on baking or parchment paper (cut larger than the dough) and set aside.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  The buns will expand further while being steamed.

Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns

Steamed Chinese Lotus Buns

8.  Steam the buns over high heat for about 15-20 minutes, checking frequently to make sure there is enough water in your wok. Use a bamboo steamer if available, you can then present your freshly steamed Chinese buns straight from the wok to the table. Serve hot or warm.

Chinese Steamed Lotus Buns


Smallkucing said...

yum.........tempting..the way you put it seems so easy.

Cheah said...

I too prefer to eat the pau skin rather than the filling. Yours look great, not yellowish. Can imagine the soft fluffy pau and the sweet lotus filling .....mmm!

Xiaolu said...

Mmm beautiful and delicious. Steamed buns are a favorite of mine, especially with this filling or black sesame or custard filling.

Lafwino said...

I ran across your blog a few weeks ago and have been enthralled by the recipes and photos ever since. Your posts are inspiring, authentic, and erudite. The nearly daily updates give me something to look forward to a couple days a week. Thank you so much for you dedication and for sharing your knowledge.

tigerfish said...

Reminded me of the song abt 包 - 叉烧包,莲蓉包 ....:D

Jen said...

Lafwino, thanks so much for your extremely kind words! It is my pleasure to be able to share what little I know and readers keep me inspired to post more. Truly appreciate your feedback :)

Carolyn Jung said...

I couldn't agree more. Like you, I enjoy the actual buns so much that I can just eat them warm and plain. The texture is so fluffy and soft, you just can't resist.

Food For Tots said...

The soft and fluffy texture of your paos is much better than those sold outside. Congrats on your first attempt! I am so inspired. Will try out your recipe one day.

Ellie said...

Delicious looking steamed buns! Lotus seed paste is my faovurite bao filling. YUM!

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Kristy, thanks so much! Yes, I think this pao dough will work great with kaya too :) You too!

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi Elizabeth, I have not tried making this in the bread machine - I suppose the kneading parts will be easier in the machine but you are right on the yeast question. I am not entirely sure on that part. Sorry I'm not of much help in regards to that but I will try to find out and I will let you know once I do. Thanks for stopping by! These are actually quite easy to make by hand :D

Anonymous said...

The 'pau skin' reminds me of my young young days. My dad used to buy this type of paus. Taste very, very good. I love this type of texture for 'pau skins'

Elizabeth12 said...

Thanks jen! I look forward to hearing from you! Is the yeast you buy the instant dried yeast? That seems to be the most readily available in the shops here (Australia). Thanks!!!

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi Elizabeth, yes I use instant yeast (usually found in little packets and they look like tiny granules right?)....your bread machine has a separate yeast dispenser right? I will try to find out for you.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Elizabeth, you're welcome! Hope it works for you :)

Priscilla Poh said...

Hello Taste of Home

I wud like to try out ur bao recipes tomorrow. Noticed that u used half cup SR flour. Cud u kindly advise me can I skip SR flour as I do not have any at home. If I shud skip SR flour, how much bao flour shud I add in place? And do I add baking powder since SR flour is taken out? And how much shud the baking powder be?

Await your reply.

Thank you
Priscilla Poh

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi Priscilla, Yes I did use half cup of self raising flour. I am not sure if you can skip it, it's quite hard to deduce how much baking powder if you use all bao flour since each brand has different ratio of baking powder in it. Is it possible for you to buy some SR flour? Also, I used pao flour so that it won't be yellowish which will be the case if you use unbleached flour. Hope that helps. Thank you for stopping by and let me know if you further questions.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi again, I googled this and to get 250g of self raising flour from all purpose, add 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda but I have not tried this myself so I can't vouch but hope it helps!

Pudding Pie Lane said...

This is amazing, your photography is beautiful, I'm lost for words. I'm going to try and make this now when I'm next home with my parents :)

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope you like this, it's quite simple too :)

priscilla poh said...

Dear Taste of Home
Thanks for the effort in googled to provide me with SR flour concortion. U know what, after I posted questions to u, I forget which blog to return the next day for ur answer. Only today 6 Apr 11, I managed to remember ur blog and was happy to read ur response. Sorry for the long time to come back and thank u.
OK, during the time I forgot which blog to look for u, I managed to go ahead and made some paus using pau flour. The results were not great. The dough turned hard 20 mns ater stamed. I dont know why. I let the yeast mixture (which consisted 6g Inst yeast,5g baking powder, 50g sugar+ 50g pau flour stirred with 135g lukewarm water stood for 1 hr before mixing mixture into 250 g pau flour + 10 g shortening. I furthe proved dough for 2 hrs before filling n shaping the paus. After that, I proved for another 30 mins before steamng.

20 mins after steamed, the paus started to harden. The overall resultof the paus = not soft.

Perhaps, u can advise me why is it not soft and fluffy. I suspect the brand of pau flour is the culprit. I used Sunflower brand.

Any hints/tips from u would be helpful.


Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi Priscilla,

I'm sorry your paus didn't turn out good, apart from the brand, perhaps it will be easier for you to just use self-raising and pau flour together for a better result? As I mentioned earlier, different brands of flour might have a slightly different ratio of baking powder etc in it. Btw, I did not proof the paus before steaming and I only proofed them or 1 hour the first time, also I only let the yeast and water mixture stand for 15 minutes before mixing into the flour to form the dough. The method that you used seem to be modified quite a bit.

Anyway, also you should steam the paus over high heat to ensure the soft and fluffy texture.

Do let me know if you have any other questions. For tips, I would suggest to get SR flour and not proof the buns before steaming or proof for too long as that will affect texture. I also did not use shortening and do note that butter and shortening are not perfect substitutes. I hope I helped a little!

Good luck for your next attempt and let me know if you have any questions!


Prispoh7 said...

Thank u Jen again for ur kind advice.
I will let u know the outcome the next time I made the paus. Thank u again.

Will take sometime cos' lots of food yet to finish.

Priscilla Poh

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Dear Priscilla, I hope my advice helps :) Sure, take your time! 'see' you soon!

Sherry Buddy said...

If I cannot find Bao flour, what other flour can I use. I live in the States.

I also used the bread and coconut buns recipe from christinesrecipes.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

hi there, you can get bao flour from most Asian grocery stores in the US, I used to go to Ranch 99 for most of my stuff while living in SoCal. Hope that helps! If not, all purpose is fine but it may just turn out yellowish since it's not bleached as much as bao flour.

Sherry Buddy said...

Thanks for your reply. I will go and find the Bao flour in our Asian stores in Florida. I might try them with chinese BBQ pork. Will let u know how they turn out if I do make them.

Sherry Buddy said...

Thanks for your reply. I will go and find the Bao flour in our Asian stores in Florida. I might try them with chinese BBQ pork. Will let u know how they turn out if I do make them.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Great, good luck with the buns!

mimie said...

hi is pao flour equivalent to bapao wheat starch? thanks. 

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi there, I'm not quite sure about that - pao flour is essentially a bleached version of all purpose flour hence the paos you make will turn out whiter, if you use unbleached AP flour, it still works, just has a yellowish tinge.. hope that helps!

Olivier Oh said...

Hi, thanks for the simple recipe.
I hope you don't mind, but I have reposted your recipe on my own blog (not to take credit for it, but I thought it would be a nice way to document the stuff I have tried!).
Please let me know if you would rather I took it down.

The buns turned out great btw! =)

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Hi Olivier, am glad that you liked the buns, if you posted my recipe, kindly provide a link back and that's totally fine with me..btw, what's the address to your blog? wld love to take a look!

Sharonlai said...

I want to make these. Miss pao so much! Thanks for the recipe. Sharon Lai

Timmers5 said...

yes! this recipe looks very good and easy to make!  I will go shopping next week, purchase my ingredients and make them!  thank you for the instructions!

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