Super Soft and Moist Chinese Bakery Buns

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Picture of Super Soft  and Moist Chinese Bakery Buns
I recently stumbled upon the bread contest and thought, “Whoa! I can actually submit a half-decent entry for this!” Then it occurred to be that being stuck on campus, it means I am currently without my bread making ingredients/tools. As a result, there will be no photos with the exception of the final product. Instead, you'll get to see the results of my attempts to draw! I'll try to get some photos up when I am reunited with my bread gear.

After much trial and error, this recipe seems to produce a product that is the closest to the soft, moist, and chewy texture of the buns sold at Chinese bakeries. It uses a water roux to achieve the desired texture.

Total time from start to finished product will be approximately 3.5 hours. This recipe will yield about 15 dinner roll-sized buns.

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Step 1: Gather Tools

Picture of Gather Tools
Before you rush out to buy ingredients, make sure you have all the essential tools. Many can be improvised, but the scale is a MUST because all measurements will be given by weight for accuracy.

Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Proofing container (mixing bowl or other large container)
Bowl scraper (stiff spatula works too)
Dough cutter (upside down scraper or large non-serrated knife)
Baking tray/bread pan
Tea towel or plastic wrap

Dough kneader (bread machine, stand mixer, cheap labour…)
Probe thermometer
Parchment paper
Pastry brush

Step 2: Gather Ingredients

Picture of Gather Ingredients
Get all your ingredients ready. You can weigh everything before hand or tare your scale as you add each new ingredient to the mixing vessel (this won’t work for the eggs though).

For the water roux (the secret to soft, moist bread!):
25 g bread flour
125 g water

Rest of the dough:
540 g bread flour
86 g sugar
8 g salt
11 g Instant yeast
86 g whole eggs
59 g whipping cream
63 g milk
144 g water roux (made from above ingredients)
49 g softened butter

1 egg (for egg wash)
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp flour (for dusting your work surface)

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Thank you so much for the amazing recipe, this actually the first comment i write to an internet recipe although, i 've been using internet recipes for like over 3 years now. my bread tuned out so soft and tasty , it's only one thing the amount of roux made was about 118 gms and were suppose to use 144 gms, I got stuck of course and all I did was that I added some more water, the bread was amazing , I didn't't actually get it like urs or the buns in the pic but all in all its so tasty,
What do u think I should do to get ur same texture as well??

The recipe is 25g flour and 125g water so it is around 150g, minus the evapourting during cooking process (perhaps), 144g is doable... however, I made it 50g flour and 150g water hehe, and it turned out a bit thicken so quickly... yet still, the buns turned out great.

jlee1661 year ago
can i use regular white flour instead of bread flour? or would that change the recipe?
evuong1 jlee16610 months ago

Actually, most family recipes posted online call for All-purpose-flour which is plain flour as well (regular flour - somewhere between cake flour and bread flour)... Usually, for soft buns, you might want them to be softer hence the mixture of some cake flour into your bread flour... I suggest you look at the protein ... for this kind of buns, ~10-11% is good... ... Whenever I can choose, I choose not to use bleached flour.

It would be much better if you use bread flour(which has high gluten content). Regular flour may never reach the status because of its low gluten content no matter how long you knead, thus you may not get that soft, pillow-y bread you want in this recipe.

hlfwy.thr (author)  jlee1661 year ago
You could give it a shot. The texture might be a little different (less chewy, more soft and crumbly) and the total kneading time might be a bit shorter for you. Your results should still be pretty tasty though!
evuong1 made it!10 months ago

Cool... I made with some adjustments, and it was reducing the liquid (milk+cream - I used milk only) down to ~100 grams. I used melted butter to brush a thick coat on the buns prior to baking, they turned out very moisture and tender... I only use egg wash when I have it redundant, otherwise melted butter does the job so good! Thanks for sharing... :))

20140430 Soft buns - tangzhong WM2.png
Gembelino1 year ago
I'm getting into my Chinese breads and cakes at the moment and will have to give this a go!
mchia12 years ago
My friend and I made your bread recipe this weekend. They are so delicious! My arms are dead from all the kneading, but it was worth it. Your recipe has been the best bread recipe I've tried so far. The rolls turned out super chewy and soft. Thank you for all of the hard work you've put into getting the recipe just right and sharing it with the internet :)
rizanmsm2 years ago
I tried last weekend it came up perfectly. but I changed the shapes.
Everyone loved it. The instructions are very clear and easy to understand.
Thank you.
(check out some pictures)
chowke3 years ago
Can I use this dough for steamed buns with meat and vegetable fillings?
hlfwy.thr (author)  chowke3 years ago
This isn't the ideal dough for steamed buns. It won't give you that white pillow-y steamed bun texture or taste. I haven't figured out that dough yet!
Tooraj3 years ago
It has taken me almost a year to try this. I tried it last night on Christmas Eve and what a success! Perfect recipe, perfect buns! Truly, outstanding. Absolutely bakery quality bread.

Love the weight measurements and the illustrations.

Thank you very much.

BTW, I did voted when you first published this. You should have won, but runner up winner is great too.

Merry Christmas.
hlfwy.thr (author)  Tooraj3 years ago
Merry Christmas to you too! I'm glad you liked the recipe. Those look super yummy!
target0223 years ago
These look great!
Could I use this recipe for pork buns, with a meat filling?
hlfwy.thr (author)  target0223 years ago
Absolutely! This is the same bread as the one used for bbq pork buns at the chinese bakery.
cjccjc4 years ago
Also love the illustrations - Never had Chinese buns, and going to try this. One question, could these be used for hamburger / hot dog buns?
ktana cjccjc3 years ago
There's a great snack found in many Chinese bakeries that is basically this type of bun wrapped around a hot dog and baked. Very tasty, nice contrast of salty and sweet.
astra284 years ago
Hi! I was wondering if you had a recipe for the chinese coconut bread or egg custard bread? :) those are my favorite! thanks a lot for this recipe!
hlfwy.thr (author)  astra284 years ago
I haven't tried to make coconut ones, but I would probably try the coconut filling section from this recipe:

As for the custard buns...I have never made them either and I hesitate to post a link because I can't find one that I like, as is. I see too much variability in recipes. If you experiment though, let me know how it goes!

okay! thanks!
ElvenChild4 years ago
this tasted really good with rice and chow mein
hlfwy.thr (author)  ElvenChild4 years ago
This looks amazing, i most likely cant make, does it have a particular taste?
hlfwy.thr (author)  Senior Waffleman4 years ago
Umm..They're kinda sweet. I guess they would taste kinda like brioche, as someone mentioned. I've actually never had brioche, believe it or not, so I'm not sure.

I 'd say the defining feature is not so much the flavour but the soft, light texture.
Ok, thanks =)
mybodyby4 years ago
This super. Hi from Minsk. I want to translate it and to place with myself on a site -
hlfwy.thr (author)  mybodyby4 years ago
Sure :)
kojak4 years ago
I followed your instructions. It looked a little hinky with the first addition of liquids, however after the eggs, milk and cream were involved, the 12 minutes showed real progress. I continued for 3 minutes more. I made 20 rolls at 50 g/roll. These turned out beautifully. However, being a FOG (fat, old guy) I am not really allowed to have any thing good. I gave my neighbors 16 of the rolls and I enjoyed the last 4. Each roll was about 155 calories. Calorie counts came from
This is great. I will be serving these dinner rolls at my next party. Thanks for the tut!
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hlfwy.thr (author)  kojak4 years ago
Glad that you liked it!
JoeWirth4 years ago
Do you have the ingredients in cups, tsp.... That be awesome!!
hlfwy.thr (author)  JoeWirth4 years ago
Sorry, no. I only work with weight because accuracy is required for bread. Invest in a scale. You won't regret it!
I'd like someone to explain how a scale is more accurate. In the past, without thinking about it, I was given (and accepted) the explanation that flour (in particular, but also other nominally dry ingredients) could have varying amounts of moisture depending in the humidity, with an impication that weighing (instead of measuring by volume) could somehow compensate for that variation in moisture.

Now that I've thought about it, that explanation doesn't stand up. If there is more moisture in the flour, the (nominally dry) flour will weigh more, and measuring by weight will give you less flour. Measuring volumetrically is very accurate if you consistently use the same measuring devices (spoons and cups), and level the ingredient with a straight edge.

On the other hand, I can imagine that "heaping" measures can vary, But, how does a scale provide more accuracy than "leveled" volumetric measures.

(Just a side note: And I know that with varying moisture content in the flour you might need to vary the amount of water, but that would be done based on the "feel" of the dough. I've never had to do it. (And, I can imagine that in a large scale commercial bakery they actually measure the moisture in the flour or something similar.)
bware rhkramer4 years ago
Whilst moisture will throw off both measures, sifting flour if successful will change the measured volume, but not the measured weight.

However I expect the bigger influence is physiological. If you are developing a recipe in cups, how likely are you to round 1 cup and 1 teaspoon to just 1 cup, where as 110g or 115g are both as easy to measure.

Also no-one has explained either system to the chickens, so don't worry too much, anything needing better then a 10% tolerance is just trial and error.
rhkramer bware4 years ago


BTW, I follow one recipe that calls for breaking an egg into a measuring cup and then filling to a certain level. Interesting.
I have been making bread for about 20 years and have never used a recipe or weighed/measured anything, and incidentally never had a real failure. Every batch is different and every batch is an adventure. To me, making bread to a recipe would be boring, boring, boring, and anyway bread has been made for 1000s of years, yet it is only in the last 100 years or so that most people can read. So for most of those 1000s of years a recipe would be no use, even if they had fancy electronic weighing scales. For most 'every day bread' you only need 3 ingredients - flour, yeast and water and the ratio is self regulating. Technique is the thing.
here is a converter.

BeSomebody4 years ago
I voted! These look soo good :)
t.rohner4 years ago

Hello, very nice buns.

I've been baking for a long time now and i never stumbled upon "roux" in baking. Since my better half has a cooking school, i heard about roux before, and it always was a combination of flour and some fatty component.(mostly butter)
Then i took a closer look on what you do with it and after seeing how you process your "roux", it's a gelatinization of the wheat starch.(I know about gelatinization of starch from my brewing experience)
It helps to retain more water, than in non gelatinized starch mixes.(in this case, your dough...)

When i look at your ingredients, a "Brioche" recipe comes to my mind. (loaded with butter, cream, milk and eggs)

I posted a recipe of a regional sepcialty, which is a little lower in fat.

You can also make a sweet variety of it with hazelnut, raisins, apple filling. This is called a "Russian thread" here.
Or with "prosciutto di parma" and parmigiano, i love this.

Before christmas, the dough is sweetened with vanilla sugar and little figures are formed with the dough. (especially for the kids)

By the way, you have very nice illustrations.

Novembersky4 years ago
that's why it said "scale required"
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