Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lai Wong Bao / Egg Custard Steamed Buns (with fat-reduced filling)

I think we have mastered the ultimate art of enjoying egg custard steamed buns...

Hold a warm steamed buns with both hands...
Feel the warmth...
Take the most tiny bite on the edge of the bun, then...

Slurp... Slurp... Slurp the oozing egg custard filling!
Now break the bun into bite sizes...
Lick... Lick... Lick the custard-coated side of the bun. Satisfy? Place the rest of the bun into your mouth.
Chew... Chew... Chew

As we were slurping and licking the oozing flowy egg custard filling from our Liu Sha Boa, my trying-to-lose-SOME-weight husband is a little concerned with the fat content of the delicious custard filling that we were enjoying...

For the sake of my husband and our waistlines, I have found and tried a fat-reduced custard filling recipe which is surprisingly GOOD too! Due to its fat-reduced content, the texture of this custard is more jelly-like and NOT as rich and creamy as the ones we had in our previous Liu Sha Bao. In fact, the texture of this filling can hold itself pretty well and doesn't ooze out like crazy as we have our first bite. For this reason, I wouldn't call these custard buns Liu Sha Bao as I think they are just Lai Wong Bao.

Liu Sha Bao (流沙包) vs Lai Wong Bao (奶黄包)? What is difference? Liu Sha Bao meaning flowing filling buns (Chinese) is actually a variant of Lai Wong Bao meaning custard steamed buns (Chinese). Typically, Liu Sha Bao contains a flowing molten filling whereas Lai Wong Bao contains non-flowing firmer custard filling.

Fat-reduced custard filling? Yes that this custard filling is fat reduced because it mainly made of custard powder, cornflour and minimal amount of egg yolk. To minimise its fat content, I have used light coconut milk which 13.4g/100g and 99% fat free condensed milk and these ingredients work well with this recipe too. Overall, this fat-reduced custard filling in each bun contains 1.5g of butter and 1/10 an egg yolk which is about 4x lesser in its fat content, comparing to the previous Liu Sha Bao filling that I have made which each either contains 6g of butter and 3/10 an egg yolk or 6.7g of butter and 1/3 an egg yolk.

Fat-reduced or not??? Honestly, I like both. I can always run extra to burn off any extra fat easily but my husband can't... LOL! I have to admit that these fat-reduced custard buns are not as creamy and heavenly as the full-fat ones but they are clearly kind to our hips and thighs and are perfectly good enough to give lots of slurp...slurp... lick... lick...satisfaction. 

Love to make these buns again.... for my husband? *smile* For all of you, Happy Valentine's Day!

lai wong bao egg custard steamed buns
Chinese steamed custard buns with fat-reduced filling
The ingredients that I used
... cook until mixture stiffen, remove pan from heat, then whisk in egg yolk ...
... cook custard again until it forms smooth and firm texture like this, then chill
Meanwhile, make bao dough
Shaping the buns
Ready! ... steam, steam, steam!
Just 8-15 minutes and the buns are ready!
lai wong bao egg custard steamed buns
slurp... slurp... lick... lick... chew... chew...

Before proceeding on to the recipe of these buns, I like to mention that not all bao recipes work well with molten custard bun fillings. I have tried a few, even some curiously with shortening but they are not as good as this one from The 350 Degree Oven. Is this bao recipe the best? Yes. So far until today, this is the bao best that I have ever explored. Best of all to me, it doesn't contains any shortening! Nevertheless, the curious me will never stop exploring... In particularly, I like to try this highly-reviewed recipe from Kimmy, Cooking Pleasure to taste a wide variety of different bao texture.

Here is my recipe (with my notes in blue):

Makes 10 buns

Reduced-fat custard filling, mostly adapted by Viet World Kitchen

1/8 tsp salt
30g custard powder
20g icing sugar
20g cornflour

1 tbsp condensed milk
(It is ok to use the 99% fat free ones or any regular ones)
60ml coconut milk
(It is ok to use the fat reduced ones or any regular ones)
15g butter

1 large egg yolk

Make the filling one day ahead.

Sift salt, custard powder, sugar, and cornflour into a saucepan. Whisk in coconut milk and condensed milk. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Add butter and stir until the butter has melted.

Keep stirring while mixture thickens substantially. Continue to stir and cook at medium-low heat until mixture thickens to form firm texture and leaves itself off the side of the pan. Remove the pan off the heat and whisk in egg yolk. This will thin the mixture out slightly. Return the pan to the heat and keep stirring to ensure that the yolk is well-incorporated and mixture thickens again.

Transfer the filling to a bowl and allow it to cool down completely. Once it is cooled, cover the surface of the custard with cling wrap to avoid any condensation form on the cling wrap dripping on the custard. Chill mixture for 1hr or more in the fridge.

Bao recipe, mostly adapted from here

280g flour, preferably with 7-9% protein content
(I used Lighthouse low protein, self-raising bleached flour which is also suitable to make steamed buns.)
1/2 tsp baking powder
(If you are using flour which is NOT self raising, please add this. Otherwise, please omit this.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
15g sugar
1 tbsp canola oil
125-140ml water (depending on the humidity of the day but I usually use 140ml)

To make bao dough, place the sugar, salt, oil, and water in the bottom of the breadmaker pan. Top with flour (with or without baking powder). Add yeast the last and switch on the machine with "dough” setting.

If breadmaker is not available, combine all bao ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough (at least 20 mins) and then let it rise for 1 hr.

When the dough is ready, divide into 10 portions. Meanwhile, set water to boil in a steamer.

Flatten the dough pieces with your hands, and place about 1 tbsp custard filling in the center. Pinch up the sides of the dough to completely enclose the filling.

Place each bao on each paper cup liner or a small piece of baking paper with its seam sides down. Rest the bao in warm mist for 10-15 mins.

Steam baos for about 8-15 mins until done. The steam timing varies if you have multiple layers of baos to steam. The layer that is closest to the direct steam will take 8 mins to cook.

Serve immediately but beware that filling can be steaming hot!

Happy Steaming!

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  1. Hi Zoe
    Aaah......this "Nai Huang Bao" I have made before and I like it too. But of course there is no harm yo try out your recipe one of the day and who knows....I like yours better leh.... your last pic makes me drool looking at the golden filling.

  2. Zoe, This steam bun look very soft. Let me take note this recipe first. I start to learn how to do steam bun on this 2014 new year. Ha! ha! ha!

  3. these looks so good... buns with custard filling, wow!!! bookmarked!

  4. You make them sound and looks so irresistible :) I just would like to grab them from those pictures :D

  5. Zoe, much as I love custard, I'm definitely more of a molten flowing filling kind of person ;) Your custard buns still look seriously good!! I'm in a mood for desserts :)

  6. my hubby loves lai wong bao at anytime... even when he's watching his waistline, his achilles heels is simply LWB..... as i'm writing this, i'm chilling the liu sha bao custard! *rubbing hands gleefully*... can't wait to put it into use soon... hubby's not in town but will get onto this over the weekend...

    p.s..... i love your steamer!

  7. Hi Zoe, I personally find that both buns are quite similar because of the ingredients, but I like liu sha bao more ^_^ Anyway, I have never try to make bao because I have not been successful making it in my first few trials several years ago...hahaha

  8. Oh my, my fave buns! Your buns make my mouth water!

  9. Wow, your steam buns look amazing Zoe! You make all these chinese pastries and buns look so amazing! You should definitely open up your own bakery - they look fantastic!

  10. Hi Zoe , you have another winner , so soft , yummy and delicious , a must make . Thanks for sharing :)

  11. Hi Zoe, I have made both nai hung bao and liu sha bao before, I know is not easy to make a perfect bao. Love your post on liu sha bao, i have looked into it many times, the custard filling for liu sha bao is awesome! And I think the bun texture looks seriously good too!

  12. Slurp - Lick - Chew! Definitely sounds like dinner time at our house! Super bun -- I really need to get into the habit of making steamed buns. This looks wonderful -- thanks.

  13. Looks really good! Will give it a try since it is not so sinful:D

  14. That looks really good. I don't mind either, but my kids prefer the lava one... they will usually break the pau in half, squeeze out all the filling then dip the pau in it before eating. LOL! The things kids do.

  15. Hi Zoe, Just to tell you, I don't know why I've never tried custard steamed bun before. Sounds funny huh?...hehee But you've changed my mind by looking at your yummy custard bun. Looks really good :)

  16. Gosh Zoe, I'm so DROOLING here! Can I have a few of these buns pleaseeeee.... Salivating here ! The filling is my favourite. Btw, am sending an early wishes to you & your loved ones. Happy Valentine's day. Enjoy & have a fun !
    Blessings, Kristy

  17. I love the look of that steamer. Can't say I've seen that before. But those buns are incredible!

  18. Hi,

    You have a very nice blog; I liked the way you presented it.

    Great looking food and interesting to read. This is the first time i entered your blog so haven´t had the time to go through everything but I’m in love with your blog...

    I also have a blog. I recommend food dishes and talk about the service and ambiance of a Best Restaurants in Pune .


  19. I need some bao recipe myself , gonna check the link of the recipe :D I haven't had these in months :P Yours really look great and the reduced-fat filling sounds good :D

    Btw , did you email Kit ? Still can't access to here site :P

    1. Hi Anne, I have email to Kit last week but hasn't hear anything from her yet. The last thing I hear from her was thru Joyce before CNY and I was visiting her blog too when she was linking with us at Bake along. After you have mentioned me about her, I have lost my communication with her too! How??? Louise is helping us to look for her too...


  20. I have never seen this oriental, exotic recipe before, but it looks intriguing :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. Oh Zoe! Fat reduced or not I want both! This one I guess is less "messy" to eat as it is not runny.

  22. Hi Zoe, been a long time since I visited; working full time has really hampered blogging and visiting blogs! Anyway, these look amazing! I'd love to eat one!

  23. These look amazing! I'm really craving them now but I don't happen to have any custard powder. Is it ok to omit that?

    1. Hi,

      Custard powder is one of major components in this recipe and I don't recommend you to omit it completely. Without it, it wouldn't make a good custard filling. Cheers!


  24. Hi Zoe, can i substitute custard powder with fresh custard? can you teach me how to?

    1. Hi Phoebeluv,

      Yes that I have made firm type of fresh custard from scratch before but I was using it for other purposes.

      Taste-wise and texture of custard made with custard powder and freshly made custard are very different. For now, I will stick to this recipe for its coconut-y fragrance. Having said that, I wish to explore any other custard recipes that doesn't custard powder in the near future.

      Sorry that I can't help you much if you still prefer to do this substitution.



  25. I love the denser cosistancy of the custard in this lovely recipe. Thank you for this recipe. I will try to make these very soon. :-)

  26. I had these in a dim sum restaurant and never thought I could recreate their delicious flavor but your recipe worked like a charm! The hardest part was finding all the ingredients, thank you for helping me create my favorite dessert at home!

  27. Hi Zoe,
    I'm new to your blog and I really enjoy the photos you post of the ingredients you use, makes shopping easier! In this recipe do you have to activate the yeast? I usually use the 'tadanco' brand active yeast from Coles.

    1. Hi Fiona,

      Yes that tadanco yeast from Coles works well for this recipe too. You don't have to activate the yeast before you use it. Just mix all, knead and prove the dough. Easy!

      Have fun making these buns :)


    2. Thank you Zoe, can coconut cream be used as a substitute for the coconut milk?

    3. Hi Fiona,

      Yes you can if you prefer a richer custard filling. Cheers!


    4. Can I omit the condensed milk for the filling?

    5. Hi Sereen,

      Should be ok but the filling will be less sweet and milky.


  28. I made these a couple of weeks ago, my only issue I had was, when I lifted up the steamer lid after they were finished steaming, the buns started to wrinkle up. How can I prevent this from happening? I want to achieve a smooth all over appearance

    1. Your steaming heating is too high and rapid. The high heat will make the buns puffed up very quickly but too quickly and so they will shrink very quickly. The excess moisture from high heat will also make them winkly subsequently.

  29. I MADE IT!! Just!! May I ask what’s the different in dough between this and mantau? Thank you

    1. This has filling. Mantau is plain with no filling. Cheers!