Dou Sha Bao (Red Bean Paste Steamed Buns) – Soft and fluffy steamed buns stuffed with sweet red bean paste filling. Homemade is best.
SWEET RED BEAN PASTE BAO
I had been on a mission to learn how to make soft and fluffy Asian steamed buns EVERY TIME!. The family had eaten enough steamed buns for the past few months 🙂 Nobody complained though. That’s what I love about tinkering in the kitchen. I felt like I’ve learned so much in the process. One of the family’s favorite sweet steamed buns is this dou sha bao (red bean paste steamed buns). The dou sha (red bean paste) is sweet but not overwhelmingly sweet, which I like. I love dessert, but I can’t say I have sweet tooth. I’m one to pick savory food anytime and most of the time never save room for dessert 🙂
HOW TO MAKE GOOD DOU SHA BAO AT HOME?
1. The basic bun recipe
That goes without saying right? You can read more in details on how to make those soft tearable steamed buns because I use that basic dough in this recipe as well
2. Dou sha filling
Yes, that goes without saying too! Dou sha is actually pretty straight forward to make. You only need red beans,sugar, and water. A good dou sha filling for steamed buns should be “stiff” and thick. The process of cooking the beans is also to cook off the water. You want to cook off as much water as possible. Too much moisture in the dou sha filling may cause your steamed buns to collapse during steaming. You don’t want your hard work goes to waste because of this. Details on how to make your own dou sha is here
3. Do not overproof the buns
Overproof the buns will create more air bubbles and causing the steamed buns to be not smooth. You don’t need the buns to double in size. If it puffs up to only about 50% of its original size, it’s good to go. It’s ready to be steamed
HOW TO PROPERLY WRAP STEAMED BUNS WITH FILLING INSIDE
1. Roll the filling into balls
It doesn’t have to be a perfect round ball. This makes it so much easier to wrap the filling later and the finished wrapped steamed buns will be “tall” and when you steam it your buns won’t appear flat and wide if that’s making any sense.
2. Follow this video on How To Shape Ultra Smooth Steamed Buns
The goal here is to push out as much air bubbles as possible from the dough so your steamed buns will be much much more smoother
3. After that, flatten into a round disc with middle part thicker than the edge
Gather the edge to wrap into a round ball or you can create pleats by folding (Sorry, it’s hard for me to take a photo of how I pleat the pattern with one hand!)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Steamed buns with filling inside will not be ultra smooth as the plain ones. I still manage to make the pretty smooth because the filling does not have lots of moisture. Like I mention before, the moisture can cause the surface of the buns not to be as smooth and sometimes even some “burn” spots.
I wrote in length about most of the common issues people encounter while making steamed buns in this How to Make Soft Fluffy Asian Steamed Buns. I think it helps if you read through that first before jumping on making any steamed buns. It’s really not complicated, but sure is helpful to know some pointers.
Now, let’s eat shall we?
Best Homemade Dou Sha Bao (Red Bean Steamed Buns)
- Divide the red bean paste into 12 equal portions. Roughly shape them into ball as that makes it easier to wrap later
SHAPING AND FILLING:
- Once you have the basic dough recipe and follow "shaping into ultra smooth round buns" number 7 instruction, flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll the sides thinner to form a circle with a thicker middle part. This is to support the weight of the filling
- FOR ROUND SHAPE: Place the dou sha filling ball in the middle and gather the edge to enclose into a round ball and place the seam side down. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Place on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly dab the surface of the bun with some milk using your finger to smooth the surface. Loosely cover with a saran wrapper to prevent drying. Work with another dough and do the same
- IF YOU WANT TO PLEAT SOME PATTERNS: Place the dou sha filling ball in the middle. Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Place on a piece of parchment paper. You don't need to dab the surface with milk if you have patterns. Loosely cover with a saran wrapper to prevent drying. Work with another dough and do the same
- Most likely your steamer won't be able to accommodate steaming all buns at one go. You may need to steam in 2-3 batches, which means, the rest of the batches will sit longer and continue to proof while waiting for the steamer. Not good for the buns! Here's what you can do: Make sure the cover them with plastic wrap and then place them in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity or halt it all together until they are ready to be steamed
- Prepare your steamer. Wrap the lid of your steamer (like wrapping a gift basically) with a clean kitchen towel and secure with rubber band/ string or whatever you have on the top. This is to prevent the condensation from the steam drops back to your bao and this will create "burn spots" later. When I steam with a bamboo basket, the condensation is not a problem
- Bring the water in the steamer to a boil and then lower the heat to medium to low (mine is more at the low side). Place the steamed buns in there and steam on medium heat (never on high heat) for 15 minutes or 18 minutes if the buns are larger
- Turn off the heat. Do not open the lid of the steamer. Let the buns sit there for 5 minutes like this. The buns will not sink or wrinkle due to the sudden change in temperature
- If you make extra and plan to store them, place them on a baking sheet, not touching each other, and then put the entire tray inside the freezer for about 1 hour. They will harden, but not completely frozen yet. Transfer to a freezer bag and they will not stick to each other anymore. Try not to keep for more than 1 month
- They can go straight from freezer to steamer when you ready to eat them. Steam on high heat for 5 minutes and they are as good as new