Introduction: Wholemeal Vegetable Steamed Buns

About: Angie Liew (known as Huang) is the founder and author of Huang Kitchen. Being a self taught chef, she focuses on improving cooking recipes, documenting and creating step-by-step how to guides. Her recipes span…

Wholemeal Vegetable Steamed Buns is definitely a healthier version of Chinese Steamed Buns. That’s because it uses wholemeal flour and the FILLING for these buns is mainly vegetable, with no meat at all. With the wholemeal grain, the texture of these buns may not be as refined and soft as the normal steamed buns. However, these buns are actually rather delicious, with a soft and chewy bite in every mouthful.

These buns only take 15 minutes on the stove top and they're done. That makes them the perfect summer bread too!


400 gram Pau flour or any low protein flour (cake flour)

100 gram wholemeal flour

1 tbsp instant yeast

1/2 tsp salt

100 gram sugar

3 tbsp shortening

250 gram water

2 tbsp white sesame seeds,toasted

1 tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted

See the original recipe on my website.

Step 1: Start by Cooking the Yam Bean Filling for These Steamed Buns.

This yam bean filling can be cooked ahead of time and keep refrigerated until needed.

The recipe for the yam bean filling is available on my website titled STIR-FRIED YAM BEAN

However, you can also choose to use other kinds of filling for this bun dough as steamed buns can be eaten with sweet, savoury meat or vegetable fillings.

Step 2: To Make the Wholemeal Buns, Prepare All the Ingredients Needed to Make the Dough.

It is always encouraged to prepare and have ready all the ingredients needed before you start making the bun dough. This is to make sure you do not leave out any ingredients which are vital to making this bun a success.

Step 3: Also Toast Some Black and White Sesame Seeds.

The toasted sesame seeds add texture and a distinctive, nutty flavour to the steamed buns. It also gives the buns a delicate, almost invisible, crunch in every bite.

Step 4: In a Mixing Bowl of a Stand Mixer, Add in Pau Flour, Wholemeal Flour and Salt. Mix Well.

Chinese steamed buns uses bleached, low-protein flours so besides pau flour or more commonly known as Hong Kong flour, cake flour can also be used. Wholemeal flour, on the other hand, adds flavour and nutrition to the buns.

Using a wire whisk, mix thoroughly the salt into the flour. This is to prevent the salt coming in direct contact with the instant yeast. Keep in mind that direct contact with salt without flour to buffer it will kill the yeast and will cause the bun not to rise.

Step 5: Then Add Sugar Followed by Instant Yeast.

Then continue to add in sugar and the dry yeast. Mix well after each addition. Be sure that the yeast isn't too old. Otherwise it may not be active.

Step 6: Next Mix in the Black and White Sesame Seeds.

Use the same whisk to mix thoroughly the sesame seeds into the dry flour mixture.

Step 7: Lastly Add in the Shortening.

Shortening is used for smoother texture. Use vegetable shortening as they are extremely shelf stable and require no refrigeration. You can use vegetable oil (except olive oil or peanut oil) to replace shortening as this will generally not affect the taste or texture. However, it will make the buns yellowish in colour.

Step 8: Place the Mixing Bowl Onto a Stand Mixer With a Dough Hook Affixed. Then Slowly Add in Water.

Add water JUST enough to get a soft dough and add in slowly as you turn the mixer on to medium speed. Make sure you don't over-hydrate the dough. It's better to add less water first as you can always add more. You could salvage the dough by adding more flour if you have added too much water but this will cause the dough to be tough.

Step 9: Knead Until a Soft, Smooth and Elastic Dough Is Formed, About 5 Minutes.

The dough should leave the bowl clean and does not stick to the fingers when touched.

You can also do this by hand if a mixer is not available. Just pour the water into the flour mixture in a mixing bowl and stir with a chopstick. Then knead the flour into a smooth and soft dough. It may be a little sticky at the very beginning when you first knead.

Step 10: Transfer the Smooth Dough Onto a Medium Size Bowl.

You can also leave the dough in the mixing bowl that you used to knead the dough.

Step 11: Cover With a Damp Kitchen Towel and Leave the Dough to Rise Until Double in Size, About 30 to 40 Minutes.

Make sure the kitchen towel covers the entire opening of the dough bowl. Exposure to air will cause the dough to develop a tough skin on the surface.

During summer, just place the covered bowl in a warm place and wait until the dough has doubled in size. If you do this during winter, just put into a preheated oven of 35 degree C and leave the bowl in it until dough has doubled in size. Do not use a high temperature as it will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise.

Step 12: When Dough Has Doubled in Size, Sieve Double Action Baking Powder on the Top.

To ensure the dough has fermented well, make sure the dough has doubled in size or have rich honeycomb texture. Also if you poke a hole with your finger in the centre of dough, the dough should not collapse.

Then only add in sifted baking powder on the surface.

Step 13: Knead Well to Distribute the Baking Powder and Until the Dough Is Smooth Again.

Knead lightly but well. Work the baking powder into the dough thoroughly. This will help the finished buns to have a smooth surface.

Step 14: Cover With the Damp Towel and Allow the Dough to Rest for Another 15 Minutes.

Make sure again the kitchen towel covers the entire dough in the bowl for the second rise. A double rise results in a finer, more tender texture.

Step 15: Then Transfer the Dough Onto a Floured Working Surface.

Place the risen dough onto a large floured working surface so that you have more room to work with.

Step 16: Divide the Big Dough Into Small Portions (22 Pieces), Each 40g

Roll the dough into a cylinder or long log and cut it into small and equal pieces. You can just eyeball this or use a scale for extra accuracy.

Step 17: To Make Sure All the Buns Are of the Same Size, Weigh Each Small Dough.

Using the weighing scale to weigh each small pieces of dough will ensure all the finished steamed buns to be of the same size.

Step 18: Shape the Small Pieces of Dough Into Small Balls.

Shape each piece into a ball by pinching and stretching it. Then place each dough ball, seams-side down, on the work surface. Continue until you have shaped all the small pieces of dough.

Step 19: Roll to Flatten Out Each Small Ball Into a Round Shape.

Using a small rolling pin, lightly flatten out each of the small dough balls before putting in the fillings. Shape the flatten dough so that it is thicker in the centre than at the edges. This is for ease of wrapping the filling and pleating the edges of dough.

Step 20: Add 1 Tablespoon of Filling in the Centre of the Flattened Dough.

You can choose to put how much or little filling you like in your bun.

Step 21: Form Pleats in Dough by Gathering the Edges and Pinch to Seal.

There is no need for a perfect pleat. Just keep pinching the edges together in folds, working in one direction, until you come full circle.

You can also shape the buns into any shapes that you preferred. If you are running short of time, you can just shape them round. Continue to fill and shape until finished.

Step 22: Place Finished Buns on Parchment Papers or Cupcake Liners.

You will also need a plate with holes to allow steam to pass to put the finished buns before you place them to steam in a steamer.

Step 23: Leave to Prove Again for Another 15 Minutes.

Put the buns to rise in a warm spot. You know the buns are ready when they have puffed up and the tops look smooth and taut. The dough will have risen by about 1.5x. Do not overproof or buns will wrinkle when steamed.

Step 24: Meanwhile Prepare Steamer to Steam the Buns by Heating Up Water in a Wok.

Prepare the steamer by bringing water to a boil. Make sure the water is gently boiling over medium heat when you put in the buns to steam.

Alternatively, use a bamboo steamer to steam these buns.

Step 25: Place the Buns on the Steamer.

Do not overcrowd the steamer. So steam in batches if needed.

Gently lower the buns into the steamer, positioning them in such a way that allows for expansion. Make sure the buns are not touching one another or the sides of the steamer. Be sure the bottoms of the buns do not touch the water.

Step 26: Cover and Steamed Over High Heat for About 15 Minutes.

Don't let the moisture collected on the lid of your steamer drop on the buns so wipe the inside of the lid before using to cover and steam the buns.

When done, turn off the heat, open the lid of steamer a little to let steam escape. Wait for about 5 minutes before removing buns from the steamer. This is to prevent shrinkage. By allowing the steam to subside gradually, you prevent the dough from collapsing on contact with cold air.

Remove the lid carefully to prevent condensed steam from dripping on the buns.

Step 27: The Buns Will Almost Double in Size When Cooked. and We're Done!

Steam until the buns are puffy and soft. Carefully lift the lid and remove the buns gently from the steamer.

Step 28: Immediately Transfer the Steamed Buns to Cool on Wire Rack.

This will prevent the bottom of the steamed buns to turn wet and soggy.

Step 29: Once Cooled, Trim the Edges of Baking Liners on the Buns.

Cut squares of baking liners if you have not done earlier. These baking liners make for easier packing and re-steaming.

Step 30: These Soft and Chewy Buns Are Best Eaten Hot.

Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the buns and serve immediately. To reheat buns, pop in the microwave for 30 seconds or re-steam in steamer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 31:


Keep the dough covered at all times with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

To make steamed white buns, you have to use BOTH bleached Hong Kong flour or Pau flour/ cake flour and shortening. If either one is replaced, you will end up with yellowish buns.

The extra bleaching from the Pau flour also produces softer and fluffy buns. If you don't like the idea of using bleached flour, substitute with cake flour or plain flour and some wheat starch. The end result is still good but the buns may not be super white and soft.

Add several drops pf white vinegar into the steaming water to produce whiter buns.

For steel steamer, use high heat all the time as there is not enough vapour. For bamboo steamer, use medium heat.

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