I have made Char siu bao many, many times and I had always considered it a chore until I found this recipe. It is not only easy, it is delicious. It is the closest one that I have found to the Char siu bao that I used to buy in the International District in Seattle in a little bakery called ‘Piece of Cake’. You had to get there early because they were usually sold out by 10.
If you would like to go to the original site, this is IT.
The pictures are mine.
David Soo Hoo’s Bread Machine Bao
Makes 6 buns (Bao)
2/3 cup water
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
3 1/2 cup bread flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Pork Bao Gravy
1/4 C. water
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Bao BBQ Pork Filling
3 tablespoons diced yellow onion or stalk of green onions
4 oz. prepared char siu (Chinese barbecued pork)
Bao Egg Glaze
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Rising the dough in the bread machine
Place all the dough ingredients in the bread pan according to manufacturer’s instructions, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Program for the Dough cycle; press Start. (This recipe is not suitable for the Delay cycle.)
About 5 minutes into the Knead 2 cycle, slowly add the remaining flour. Dough will be stiff, but by the end of the kneading cycle be pliable and smooth. This is important; if the batter is too moist, the bows will flatten as they bake.
While the dough is rising, prepare the gravy. Combine the water, rice wine, oyster sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Whisk in the flour. Place over simmering water and, stirring constantly, cook until thick and smooth. It will be the consistency of mayonnaise. Remove from the water bath and cool in the refrigerator.
For the filling, chop the pork into a large dice and place in a large bowl with the onions. Add the gravy and mix with the pork. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. At the beep, remove the dough from the machine and place on a clean wooden work surface. Roll into a fat 3 inch wide log. Cut the log into 6 equal portions. Place a disc of dough on a wooden work surface (don’t shape on cool marble or ceramic because it will stiffen the dough). With the palm of your hand, press down on the center and rotate your palm, spiraling out from the center. The dough will grow into a 3-inch diameter circle (not lopsided, please) with a pretty spiral-pattern radiating from the center like a flower. Don’t use any flour. Using a 1 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop (size 40), place a scoop of filling in the center of the round of dough. Bring up the dough over the filling, and holding the two sides between your thumb and third finger, and pinching with your pointer finger, pleat the edges to encase the filling. Place, seam side down and at least 4 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until double in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the filling is cold, it will take 1 1/2 hours to rise. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350º. Brush each bao with the egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the center of the preheated oven 30 to 40 minutes, until big, puffy, and golden brown. If you have a convection oven, they will bake about 20 minutes.
Eat the day they are baked, or freeze in plastic freezer bags up to 2 months. Reheat in a microwave (no need to defrost) for 2 to 3 minutes for a quick dinner
My Notes: I followed the recipe faithfully with only the following exceptions. My bread machine does not have a double knead cycle so I put all of the ingredients in at once, adjusting at the beginning to ensure that I had a fairly stiff dough. I made 12 buns instead of 6 and as a result they cooked perfectly in 20 minutes.
I also prepared the gravy very successfully in the microwave.
The one advice that I would give in forming the Buns is to have the center much thicker than the edges. Roll the edges very thin so that you don't have all the bulk at the bottom when you pinch the edges together. Do not overfill the Buns! I have made this recipe several times and no matter how small or large I make them the filling always seems to miraculously come out exactly even.