Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baked Chinese Char Siu Buns / Shao Bao 烧包

Boy: Mummy, these are so yummy! What are these?
Mum: Shao Bao!
Boy in Aussie accent: Shao Bao? I love these eeerrr eeerrr... Shao Bao?
Mum? ...laughing out loud!!!

Please pardon my son for not knowing anything about shao bao and can't even pronounce the word, 烧包 in the right way. At least, he is learning that this is one of delicious dim sum or yum cha treats.

Accordingly to its name, Shao Bao 烧包 are baked buns that are filled with barbecue-flavoured char siu pork but mine is made with homemade chicken char siu. I like particularly this shao bao recipe because it works very well for me as it makes light and flaky layers of pastry, ultimately with its outer layer ending with a sweet crunch. Interestingly, it is also the vegan kind of pastry... meaning vegan in the way that it uses vegetable oil and shortening with no eggs and butter. With the char siu filling, these complete shao bao buns are obviously not vegan at all. However, if you are interested to transform this recipe into a vegan recipe, you can always substitute the meat filling with the gluten kind of mock char siu.

Before proceed on, I like to say something about the shortening that I used to make these shao bao. As usual, I strongly discourage the use of Copha shortening as it is bad for our health and wouldn't work well with this recipe. I strongly encourage the use of Crisco shortening as it contains no trans fat and half of the saturated fat than butter and works perfectly well with this recipe. Yes that you can substitute Crisco shortening with soften butter for better flavouring but I'm not entirely sure if the butter pastry can survive as well as the these that are made with Crisco shortening. Please give it a go if you wish to make your shao bao with butter and please let me know if this recipe works well with butter too.

baked Chinese char siu Buns char siew shao bao 烧包
Baked Chinese Char Siu Buns / Shao Bao 烧包
This is the same chicken char siu filling that I have used to make char siu steamed buns.
These are the ingredients (plus flour and water) that I used to make the flaky dough.
These are two ingredients that I used to make the shortening dough.
Make sure that both doughs are smooth in texture and well rested.
Divide both dough into 10 portions.
Wrap the shortening dough into the flaky dough.
Making the multiple flaky layers
These little pieces of dough looks like little puffy pillows :)
I think I might have pinch the pleats too hard...
Please pardon my lousy pleating skill. I might have pinched the pastry too hard and break the flaky layers. Ops!
Ugly or not, I'm eating these!!!
"Mummy, I love these flaky shao bao!"

What can I say? I guess that this recipe must have been pretty forgiving, making shao bao to be all so flaky and delicious despite that my pleating skill is kind of lousy with my bull-pressing fingers! ... LOL!

Here's the recipe to bake these flaky shao bao.

Chicken Char Siu Filling

Similar to the one that I have used to make my Chicken Char Siu Bao and this reduced amount makes about 10 portions of fillings.

Makes about 10 portions
Ingredients A:
150g chicken mince
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

Ingredients B:
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced

Ingredients C:
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp finely ground white pepper

Ingredient D:
150g char siu, roughly diced into 0.5-1 cm cubes
(I used homemade chicken char siu)

Ingredients E:
1/2 tbsp cornflour
40ml water

Ingredients A: Add cornflour and oil into mince and combine all thoroughly.

Ingredients B: Heat 4 tbsp of oil in frying pan with medium high heat. Fry garlic and onion until slightly browned and fragrant.

Ingredients C: Combine all together. Add mince and the combined ingredients C into the browned garlic and onion. Continue to cook with stirring until the mince is cooked.

Ingredient D: Add char siu into the mince. Cook for about 1-2 mins. Keep stirring while cooking.

Ingredients E: Combine cornflour with water. Make sure that the cornflour mixture is uniformly mixed before pouring into the cooking mince to make the filling thick and saucy. Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat. Set aside to allow filling to cool completely. Use immediately or store in fridge until ready to use.

Flaky Pastry mostly adapted from the book, Dim Sum Inspiration by Choong Su Yin

Makes 10
For the Flaky Dough:
300g all purpose flour
35g caster sugar
95g vegetable oil, preferably something light like canola oil
1/2 tbsp golden sugar
130g water

For the Shortening Dough:
75g shortening, preferably trans fat free Crisco
150g all purpose flour

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp milk

To make the Flaky Dough:
Dissolve sugar and golden syrup in water. In a mixing bowl, mix flour and oil together, then pour in the syrup mixture and knead to form a smooth dough. Set aside. Allow dough to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hr. Divide into 10 equal portions.

To make the Shortening Dough:
In a mixing bowl, mix flour and shortening together until it forms a smooth dough. Chill dough in the fridge for about 30 mins or until firm. Divide into 10 equal portions.

To prepare:
Line baking trays with baking papers. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced.

To assemble:
Wrap each portion of shortening dough into each portion of roughly flattened flaky dough. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a long strip. From its shorter end, roll the dough tightly like a Swiss roll. Using a rolling pin, roll dough again into a long strip. Fold 1/3 of the dough inwards and another 1/3 of the dough from the other end to form three layers. Using a rolling pin, roll it into a flat circle and place a portion of the filling in the center of the dough. Pleat the sides. Pull the pleats together and seal.

Place the buns on the prepared baking trays. Apply egg wash on the buns and bake 
at 160°C fan forced for 30 mins (plus an extra 10 min baking at 180°C fan forced for deeper golden colour) or until golden brown. Allow the buns to cool slightly for 5-10 mins before transferring them to wire rack to cool further but not too long as they taste the best when they are slightly warm.

Happy Baking

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  1. Love these Shao bao, look amazing Zoe!!

  2. We call these 叉燒酥 in Hong Kong, which are also a very popular dim sum here! :)

  3. OMG, you are so clever la, siew pau also you know.. If you are my neighbour, habisssss, I will always find excuses to come to your house to get some free buns/pastries, hehe.. I can wallop about 3-4 siew paus if they are good.. Your looks so so good, very buttery flaky pastry, I can eat 10!

  4. looks yummy. by the way I noticed you use shortening very often in pastries like these is there a difference in texture when using shortening and butter

  5. These look so yummy!!! I am craving one so bad! :-)

  6. Hi Zoe, they still look very delicious, and the glorious golden-brown colour is so appetizing!

  7. Thanks Zoe for the info on shortening - now that I understand shortening consists half saturated fat than butter, I am less frighten about trying out the Shao Bun recipe in the near future.

    Priscilla Poh

  8. I love these baked char siew pau too.... best with a cup of hot Chinese tea!

  9. Hi Zoe, You're making me craving for this delicious bao ! How I wish I can have some now for breakfast . SEdap -sedap YUMMY ;)

  10. Its 4 pm now and it is raining. Looking at your shao bao makes my tummy growls! Shao Bao is one of my favourite snacks for tea breaks.

  11. No doubt I would them too! And also that weird name :D

  12. Zoe,you make my hungry...look soooo yummy~ drooling!!

  13. Zoe, what a lucky little boy your son is! Love your shao bao. I really must get into pau and bread/bun making! Lazy me hee..hee...

  14. I love the flaky layers, Zoe. These look amazing! ^.^

  15. I don't know how great I am at pronouncing it either!

  16. You are one busy lady.
    I'd be so fat if I were your neighbour, but I sure would be happy!

  17. Hi Zoe,
    I love siu bao or shao bao. Seeing these yummy-licious flaky shao bao making me drooling!

  18. Really amazing buns..... love this... :)

  19. Oh these look so damn good! A friend of mine made her pastry with this type of home made two dough flaky pastry with a pineapple and pork filling! I absolutely love the sweet meat of char sui sou! This I know isn't the isn't pastry to make either so that's fabulous that you got it down! Like I've said before your son is so lucky to have such a skilled chef at home! I'm currently holding a beauty giveaway right now, check it out if you'd like!

  20. I like how these buns look with all the layers...beautifully done Zoe...delicious!
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  21. Hi Zoe, may I know where in Melb did you buy your Crisco shortening? I am also in Melb and have checked out few chinese grocery shop and coles but can't find it. Sandy.

    1. Hi Sandy,

      I bought my Crisco shortening from online shops like USA food. This product is not commonly found in Asian grocery shops and Coles.


    2. Thanks for replying. Safe me for searching for it when i go grocery shopping. Your shao bao looks great and I will like to try making it.

  22. Zoe, your 烧包 is so well done!. I love shao bao and I had eaten a lot during my last trip to Hong Kong. I have bookedmarked this and will take your recommendation to use only Crisco shortening. Thanks for the such a useful info :)

  23. Hi Zoe,
    Your char siu bao looks delicious and flaky! These are so perfect to eat anytime of the day! With a cup of warm Chinese tea would be lovely indeed!

  24. I would love to win the tea, I sip some when I read your blog each morning early, they look great as well as the recipe! from Mary at!!!!!

  25. Gosh, I love the crust, Zoe! Honestly, I'm not a fan of the tradional steamed pao, but this is definitely my kinda good! xoxo