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Bao Dough

A simple approach to making springy, light bao dough. This is enough dough to make a ten large bao (~75g of dough each).

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: ~80-90 minutes


  • ⅞ cup warm water | 7.4 oz | 210g

  • ½ cup granulated sugar | 3.5 oz | 100g

  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast | 0.4 oz | 12g

  • 3½ cups all purpose flour | 14.9 oz |  420g

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder | 0.4 oz | 12g

  • 2½ teaspoons unsalted butter, softened | 0.4 oz | 12 g


  1. Add sugar and yeast to the warm water, and stir to dissolve. Make sure your water is not above 115°F/46°C or you may kill your yeast!
  2. Mix baking powder into the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook and set the mixer to medium-low. Add the water-sugar-yeast mixture to the mixer bowl. The dough should come together in a minute or so. Scrape down the sides if needed. If the dough does not come together, detach the bowl and try using your hands to press the mix into a dough ball. As long as you can get a shaggy dough ball, the mixer should be able to knead the dough into a relatively smooth dough. If it won’t hold together, add a little water, no more than a teaspoon at a time. Knead for about 7-8 minutes with the stand mixer.
  3. Add the butter to the dough and let the mixer continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes until the butter is completely incorporated.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large rectangle to about ½” thick. Fold the dough over onto itself (in half) so you have two layers. Roll out again, and repeat the fold again. Roll out one more time, then along the long edge, roll into a long rope, then divide into 10 equal-sized portions (see note 1) by cutting “coins” from the rope. Place the coins on one face. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Flatten each coin with the heel of your hand, then use a rolling pin to make a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Ideally, thin the edges of the circle by rolling with the pin with one hand across just the edge of the circle of dough while using your other hand to rotate the dough between rolls of the pin.
  6. Place assembled bao and place into your steamer basket on squares of parchment paper, cover, and let them rest for an hour.
  7. Steam for about 8-10 minutes then turn off the heat and let them sit covered for another 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Bao can be frozen once cooled, bagged, and stored for at least a few weeks. Reheat by steaming them again for about 5-7 minutes.


  1. I like large bao buns, so I use about 75 grams of dough per bao. This recipe should make enough for a dozen bao that size. If you like smaller bao, see the ingredients lists below scaled to use one standard packet of yeast (¼ ounce or 7 grams). This amount could make 8 bao of about 57g each.
  2. I’d like to test this dough using milk as well as scalded milk to see what impact that may have on the final texture as well as the rise. Additionally, I will test more with low-gluten flour (cake flour), but I wanted to first get a solution with all purpose flour since that’s the easiest type of flour for most people to purchase at the store.


Weight (g)

Baker’s Percentage

All purpose flour



Instant yeast



Baking powder



Unsalted butter



Granulated sugar



Warm water



Total Mass



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