These classic Chinese baked char siu bao buns are filled with deliciously juicy and tender char siu pork and surrounded by a soft, light, and fluffy bread roll. Imagine biting into these warm pillowy milk buns to discover a juicy sweet and savory Chinese bbq pork filling that is bursting with flavor and utter excitement.
3tablespoon60 g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Char Siu Filling
1tablespoonlight soy sauce
½tablespoondark soy sauce
⅛teaspoonfive spice powder
2cup280 g char siu pork, diced into small cubes
toasted sesame seedsoptional
Milk Bread DoughBloom the yeast. Heat the milk to about 110°F (38°C) in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar and gently mix. Cover and let the mixture bloom for about 5-10 minutes.
Combine all the ingredients. In the bowl of your stand mixer with a dough attachment, add the sugar, salt, and bread flour. Mix until combined. Then add the egg and milk mixture and knead until it forms a dough about 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add in the softened butter and knead until combined. Then increase the speed to medium-high speed and for 16-17 minutes or until the dough is smooth, stretchy, and passes the windowpane test. (Pull a piece of the dough with both hands until it is thin and translucent. If you can see your fingers through the dough, without it tearing it is ready).
Proof the bowl. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and proof in a warm (100°F) place for about 1 hour or until double in size.
Char Siu FillingMake the Char Siu sauce. In a medium/large saucepan, add the oil, shallots, and garlic. Heat on medium-high and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Next add the hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar, and five-spice powder and mix. Heat until it begins to boil. Mix the cornstarch and chicken stock together to make a slurry. Pour in the slurry and mix on low heat until thickened.
Add the diced char siu. Gently fold the diced char siu and mix until evenly coated. Separate the filling into 12 even portions and shape them into balls with your hands. Set aside.
AssemblyDivide the dough and form them into balls. Deflate the dough and divide it into 12 even pieces (61-62 g each). While you are dividing, cover the dough pieces with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying. Tighten all the dough pieces by pulling the dough under itself a few times, pinch the seam at the bottom, and shape into a ball. Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying.
Flatten the dough balls into discs. When they are all rolled into balls, flatten out the dough and using a rolling pin roll the dough into a 4-5 inch disc. Try to keep the center thicker than the edges. So that the bun will be even when wrapped.
Add filling and seal. Add the portioned filling to the center. Tightly pinch the edges over the filling and seal all the holes. Flip the bun over and roll it in a circular motion on your work surface to tightly seal.
Proof a second time. Place the buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and cover with kitchen linen. Proof in a warm place for 25-30 minutes or until almost double in size.
Bake and serve. Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C). Gently brush a thin even layer of the whisked milk and egg wash on top of each bun, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden browned. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.
Instant v. Active Dry Yeast: for instant yeast, traditionally you do not have to wait for the yeast to bloom for about 5-10 minutes like you have to with active dry yeast. However, I like to do this extra step to make sure the yeast is still alive. Alternatively, You can skip that step and immediately mix everything together in the stand mixer.
Stand mixer v. hand kneading: if you do not have a stand mixer you can do it by hand by mixing the ingredients in a bowl until it forms into a dough. Then knead the dough on a well-floured surface for about 25-30 minutes until the dough is soft, pliable, and passes the windowpane test. Do not be afraid to really work the dough. The more you work it the softer it will become.
Proof the dough in a dark warm spot (preferably the oven): Proofing the dough is key to making it soft and pillowy. Make sure to proof until the dough has doubled in size. The dough will rise quickly if it is in a warm spot like the oven. If your oven has a proofing setting use it. Otherwise, you can place a bowl/cup of boiling water in the oven behind your dough bowl and it will simulate a warm place for the dough.
When rolling out the dough into balls/discs keep the remaining dough covered. If you leave the dough uncovered, the dough will dry out making it difficult for you to shape the dough. Make sure to cover the dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
Storage Instructions: You can store these buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To re-heat simply plop them back in the oven at 350°F or microwave until warm. You can also freeze the buns in the freezer for up to 1 month. Simply, bake them frozen at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes you do not need to defrost them. (Note the texture will not be as soft when you re-bake them from the freezer.)