Makes approximately 12 buns

You need

500ml cake flour

10ml baking powder

15ml canola oil

5g dried yeast ( ½ a sachet in SA)

50ml castor sugar

150ml warm water

To prepare

I prefer to mix the dough in a food processor, but you can also use a bowl mixer with a dough hook. As it is a soft sticky dough it does not lend itself to hand mixing.

Place the flour and baking powder in the food processor.

Whisk together the yeast, sugar, oil and water in a small jug. Set aside to activate. It will begin to froth on the surface.

With the food processor or mixer running, pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Allow the mixer to run for about 20 seconds. The mixture should start coming together to form a ball. If the mixture is too dry add 5ml warm water while the machine is running. If it too wet add 20ml flour at a time. Let the machine run for a further 45-60 seconds until most of the dough has formed a ball. There may be a few dangly bits but when you press the dough with your finger it must be light and soft, slightly tacky, but not sticky.


Knead using a dough hook on a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until smooth.

If you don’t have an electric stand mixer then you can knead this dough by hand but make sure you put the time and effort into it. It needs to be smooth and well kneaded. It might take you around 15 minutes by hand depending on how energetic you are.

Use a large, strong plastic bag. Either spray the inside with a non-stick spray, or lightly oil it with about 5ml canola oil.

Place the dough in the bag and in a warm place. In summer sunny spot or at room temperature or in winter close to a heater. If you have warming draw that can be set at about 30⁰C then use it, but place the bag on a wooden board. It should double in size in about 40-60 minutes.

Allow dough to double in size in a plastic bag

Remove the dough from the bag and knead it lightly using a little flour on the surface. To shape the buns you have a choice of 2 methods:

  1. Roll the dough to about 8mm thick. Using a 10-12cm cutter cut out circles.




  1. Roll the dough into a sausage about 4cm thick, divide into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball then roll out with a rolling pin into a circular shape around 8mm thick.

Using a floured chop stick placed in the centre of the circle, fold the circle in half.

At this stage you can use the same dough to make boa buns…. but I will save that detail for another day!

Place each bao on square of baking paper. Fold in half to enclose the baking paper. Lay on a steamer tray lined with baking paper.

Place the tray in a warm place at about 30˚C for 15-20 minutes. If at a slightly cooler temperature they will take longer to rise.

At this stage they can be frozen for later use (defrost at room temperature for an hour)

Place the buns, on the paper squares into a steamer. Steam for 10 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I like to put the fillings out for guests to help themselves: chicken, pork, seafood, sprouts, fresh herbs, strips of cucumber, carrot or spring onion. I always have chilli on the side,