Brilliant Beautiful Buns
Two doughs, seven spectacular bao
We handed some of our favorite cooks two versatile doughs — one for baked bao, the other for steamed — and asked them to shape, fill, and top them however they saw fit. The buns they created range from sweet to savory and classic to contemporary — but they’re all equally irresistible.
Use a single base dough recipe, created for us by Joy Huang, to make four distinct types of steamed buns, including ones filled with juicy steamed pork; umami-rich, mushroom-stuffed buns; buns loaded with gingery custard; and buns that only look like tiny toadstools — but are filled with molten dark chocolate. (Need a primer on how to steam these? Here’s a step-by-step guide.)
Mushroom and Cabbage Pan-Fried Buns (Sheng Jian Bao)
Hetty McKinnon’s savory, umami-rich vegetarian buns are first pan-fried until golden and crisp, then steamed until tender.
Steamed Pork Buns (Xian Rou Bao)
Betty Liu’s Chinese pork buns are gingery and juicy. A typical Shanghainese breakfast, they are good any (and every) time of day.Get the recipe
Chocolate "Mushroom" Buns
These adorable buns, created by Clarissa Wei, aren’t filled with fungi — they just resemble them. Instead, they’re stuffed with dark chocolate, which melts when the buns are steamed.Get the recipe
Steamed Carrot Buns with Fresh Ginger Custard
Frankie Gaw adds carrot juice to his dough, giving it a warm hue; the buns are split and filled with a vibrant fresh ginger custard.
This collection of tender, fluffy baked bun recipes uses our incredibly versatile Japanese Milk Bread dough as its base. Slightly sweet and incredibly plush, the dough is the perfect foil for buns filled with vanilla custard, black sesame, and, yes, even hot dogs.
Pineapple Buns (Bolo Bao)
A Chinese bakery classic, these cookie-crowned buns resemble the fruit after which they’re named. In Tatiana Bautista’s version, the pastry cream filling is optional (but very highly encouraged).
Scallion Sesame Hot Dog Buns
Hot dogs swaddled in sweet scallion scented dough? Fans of pigs in a blanket, take note: Betty Liu’s recipe is just as good as it sounds.Get the recipe
Black Sesame and Coconut Buns
An earthy combination of nutty black sesame and coconut fills these feathery buns created by Hetty McKinnon.Get the recipe
Meet the Bakers
Food writer and doctor-in-training Betty Liu is the author of My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories From a City on the Water. She lives in Boston.
Frankie is a designer by day and food writer by night; his debut cookbook, First Generation: Recipes from my Taiwanese-American Home, will be released on October 24. Find his recipes and photography on his blog, Little Fat Boy.
The author of five cookbooks, Sydney, Australia-born Hetty frequently contributes to The New York Times and Bon Appétit. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
Clarissa Wei is a Taiwanese-American freelance journalist and video producer. She is currently working on her first cookbook, Made In Taiwan.
Tatiana spent years traveling (and of course, eating) throughout Asia-Pacific before pursuing a food-related career that landed her at King Arthur, where she is the Editorial Coordinator.
Boston-based Joy started her food blog, The Cooking of Joy, because she was inspired to document her mom's Taiwanese dishes.