Red bean buns are one of my favourite comfort foods because of the soft bun texture and the red bean sweetness. I love Asian bread and steamed bread tends to have an outer skin layer that you can peel off and nibble on. To make the red bean bun “explode”, roll the dough thin enough so that the top layer would burst through during steaming on high.
Serves 12 buns (approx. 144 calories per serve)
Prep time 30 minutes + 1 hour proofing + overnight soaking
Cook time 10-15 minutes
1 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
240ml cup warm water
50g caster sugar
125g bao flour (you can substitute with all purpose flour but the buns will just take on a yellowish tinge, you can find bao flours in most Asian grocery stores)
65g self-raising flour
3 tsps of melted butter (unsalted)
Filling (makes 1/2 cup of red bean paste)
1/2 cup dried red beans
Water for boiling
1/2 tbsp oil
Note: You will need to cut 12 squares of baking paper and steam the buns. I used a bamboo steamer like this.
Wash the red beans and soak overnight (this will shorten the cooking time).
The next day, boil the beans for 1-1.5 hour letting it simmer on a low heat until the beans are soft. Drain and blend into a smooth paste.
Stir in the sugar and the oil. Reheat in a small pot until the flavour comes out a little bit. Set aside. You can store this in the fridge for up to a week.
Meanwhile, mix the yeast with 2tbsp of warm water, 1tsp sugar, and 1tsp of bao flour in a small bowl. Leave it in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it bubbles up (i.e. yeast is active). My kitchen was quite cold so I had to leave the bowl in a larger bowl of warm water to ensure the yeast grows.
Sift the bao flour and self-raising flour into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, the yeast mixture, warm water, and the melted butter. Mix until it becomes a soft dough with a spoon.
Flour a work surface with bao flour and knead until smooth and elastic, approximately for 10 minutes. The dough will be quite soft and sticky so be prepared to add quite a bit of bao flour when kneading so it doesn’t stick to your hands. I felt like I was fighting against the dough to not stick to my hands.
Prepare an oiled bowl and place the dough into it, cover, and let it rise for an hour or so or until the dough as doubled. Heat will play a large part in how quickly the dough rises and since it was cold in my kitchen, I had to turn on the heater near the bowl to make it warm enough to rise in an hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about five minutes on a floured surface. Divide it up into 12 balls.
Heat up a wok with a bamboo steamer until the water boils rapidly. Meanwhile, flatten each ball in the palm of your hands and fill up with a teaspoon of the red bean paste. Close up the ball and place it with the sealed side to the bottom and place on top of a baking paper square. Ensure adequate space between the buns when laying out on the steamer as they will expand during steaming.
Steam the red bean buns for 10-15 minutes. Try not to over-steam as the buns will start to get little brown spots (steam burns).
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