Playing with bread is nothing new for me. I make a loaf of normal bread or attempt a sourdough once a week. I love making soft and fluffy bread buns, they’re so satisfyingly squishy, that making bao, the soft as cloud Taiwanese buns, seemed like a natural new thing to try. I was excited to step in the kitchen and try something bread-related as a new thing once more!
Rather than being baked, bao buns are steamed, and only take around 10 minutes to reach the soft and fluffy stage I desired. I’d never used a bamboo steamer like the one above, but I was able to pick a few up really cheaply from the local Asian supermarket.
There are lots of recipes around but I followed a mash-up between vegan Queen Meera Sodha for the buns and a random delicious-sounding recipe for the sticky tofu filling from the Vegan Recipe Club.
The dough was very simple and easy to come together, and I left it to rest and double in size for around an hour and a half before I started shaping it. My time management, normally a strength of mine in the kitchen, was abysmal, and I was left with the filling done before any of the bao buns had been shaped into their clam-like shapes! This meant cooking them on a double steamer, something I’d not used before, became a bit stressful, especially when after 10 minutes there was still some raw dough in the middle.
These steamed buns were a whole new arena for me – they were like no yeasted product I’ve ever made before. They were stressful to make, but that was purely down to my pure planning. I put the sticky tofu from the Vegan Recipe Club inside, as well as some quick pickled red cabbage and some grated carrot. Together, it tasted absolutely incredible, really, one of my favourite meals of recent times. I have to say, it didn’t look very pretty which is why there are no pictures, but trust me when I say it was truly delicious!
I did ultimately enjoy this, especially when they tasted good, and I think I would attempt making them again. They are relatively quick to make and are a nice, light alternative to bread buns, plus, they look like little clouds of happiness on a plate – what’s not to love!