Making Taiwanese steamed buns (gua bao) has been on my to-do list for quite some time. I’ve enjoyed my fair share, but I’ve never taken the time to make them. The commitment is much like making your own bread. It involves kneading, requires time to rise, and like baking your own bread – the reward is just as great! Though unlike freshly baked bread, these little babies will keep for months in the freezer without any degradation in deliciousness! So make a big ol’ batch and have these cloud-like buns at the ready whenever you need them!
Try them in these Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Buns!
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees
- 4 1/4 cup bread flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, rounded
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening + a little extra for greasing, at room temperature
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, outfitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast and water. Allow the yeast to bloom, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and the vegetable shortening. Mix on the lowest speed for 8 – 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and cover with a clean tea towel. Place in a warm area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch down the dough and turn out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log, and then cut each log into 5 equal pieces. You should end up with 50 pieces of dough and they should be about the size of a ping-pong ball. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place them on a large sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut out 50 4-inch squares of parchment paper. You can do this fairly quickly by folding the parchment paper in half over and over until you end up with an approximate 4×4 square. Then just cut along the folds. (Don’t worry, they don’t have to pretty).
- Working with one ball at a time (keep the others under the plastic wrap), flatten with the palm of your hand. Then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 4-inch long oval. Grease a chopstick and lay it across the middle of the oval. Fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun. Remove the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and then place it on a parchment square. Place it back under the plastic wrap and make the rest of the buns. Allow the buns to rest for 30 minutes.
- Set a steamer over the stove. Working in batches (do not let them touch), steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes.
- You can use the buns immediately or you may allow them to cool completely and then seal them in a freezer bag and freeze up to several months. To reheat the frozen buns, steam for 2 – 3 minutes, until soft and warmed through.