Baked Bao With Black Bean Paste

READY IN: 3hrs 25mins
SERVES: 5-10
YIELD: 35 buns




  • In a small bowl or cup, combine 1/4 cup lukewarm water with the yeast. Let stand for five minutes, while you do the following step.
  • In a large bowl, sift or stir together 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the sugar. Add the shortenning with a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • In a microwave safe bowl or in a small saucepan, combine milk and 1/3 cup water and heat until warm, but not hot. Add the yeast mixture.
  • Add milk and yeast mixture to the dry ingrediants in the large bowl, mixing well. Add the remaining flour, little by little, until mixture forms a shaggy dough. You may not need the full amount of flour.
  • Using an electric mixer with dough hooks, mix the dough until it is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. (If you prefer, you can knead the dough by hand on a well floured surface - it takes 5-10 minutes).
  • Grease a large clean bowl with a bit of oil, butter or shortenning, and transfer the dough to this bowl, turning it so that the grease coats the dough. Cover with a towel, or with plastic wrap, and leave dough to rise in a warm place for two hours.
  • Punch down the dough, and transfer it to a well-floured surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten dough to just over a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a knife, divide dough into pieces roughly 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches - the exact shape is not particularly important.
  • On the floured surface or in the palm of your hand, flatten the dough slightly around the edges. Place a rounded teaspoon of black bean paste in the center, then gather up the edges of the dough and pinch them firmly together, making certain that the filling is sealed inches.
  • Place the bun on a baking sheet that is well greased or lined with parchment paper, pinched side down. Repeat for remaining pieces of dough. Place buns about 2 inches apart, to give them room to rise. Cover them with a clean towel and let rise for half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • With a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush the tops of the buns with the beaten egg.
  • Put buns in preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until buns are golden brown. The bread should look airy and cooked if a bun is torn open.
  • If you want to mark the tops of the buns with a red dot, mix the red food colouring and 2 tsp water in a small bowl and use the end of a chop stick to put a drop of the red water on the top of each hot bun.
  • Transfer the buns to a wire rack and let cool a little. Buns can be served warm, refrigerated and reheated (either for 10 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the oven) or frozen for later.