INSTANT POT BAO BUNS 3 WAYS

Prove and steam perfect Bao Buns in the Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker. The result is steamed bao that are light and fluffy. I am presenting you my 3 top favourite vegetarian and vegan bao bun fillings!

soft and fluffy chinese bao buns served with vegetarian filling in a bamboo steamer


INSTANT POT BAO BUNS

Bao Buns or Gao Buns are a flat steamed bread also known as lotus leaf bread. They are folded and filled traditionally with pork belly but the modern take on bao buns has allowed for a huge variety of fillings to suit many diets!

I first tried these in a restaurant close to where I work and I was immediately hooked! I later found a recipe on BBC Good Food and adapted it to suit using the Instant Pot. I tried creating these for the first time at home and luckily found a method that worked in the first go!

Why use the Instant Pot? It's a good question! Like I've mentioned in many of my previous Instant Pot posts, we just aren't blessed with warm weather for most of the year in the UK! Since our purchase, the Instant Pot has been a great way to prove dough with speed!

The Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker with similar functions has two uses in this recipe. First, to prove the dough, and secondly to steam the bao buns. 

White soft and fluffy steamed bao buns ready to eat



Bao Buns Ingredients


Plain flour - use plain white flour. Bleached white flour will get you whiter buns. You may use BAO BUN  or MANTOU flour which is easily available in the Asian/Chinese groceries. 

Milk - any milk works fine

Fast action yeast

Caster Sugar - we have used white caster sugar

Baking powder 

Rice wine vinegar if not available you may use apple cider vinegar. 

Sunflower Oil - use a light coloured and mild flavoured oil

(See ingredients for the fillings below)


Bao buns filled with 3 different stuffing, garnished with green coriander



Vegan Bao Buns


These bao buns can easily be made vegan. 

Instead of dairy milk, use non-dairy milk such as oat. 


How to make the dough for Bao Buns and Prove dough in Instant Pot

We used an electric stand mixer to mix our dough, however, you can easily knead by hand. 

Mix together the flour, caster sugar and salt.

Add fast action yeast, oil, vinegar and milk if using. 

Now add water and knead the dough on medium speed for 10-12 minutes until the dough is very smooth.

Remove and knead the dough with your hands for a couple of minutes. 

Place a parchment paper in the inner pot of Instant Pot.

Cover the pot with glass lid (DO NOT USE ACTUAL IP LID)

Select YOGURT mode and prove the dough for 1 hour.

Remove the dough and punch it down all the air bubbles from the dough, knead the dough again for a minute or so. 

Divide the dough into equal portions and make balls.

Roll it out using a rolling pin, apply some oil and place a wooden skewer in the centre of the circle. 

Cut out 8-9 squares of baking parchment or use white cupcake cases or wrappers and place the bun on each paper.

Cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise again for 30-40 minutes in a warm place.



Tips on kneading the dough


● Do not use self-raising flour for bao buns. 

● Knead the dough until it becomes very smooth, whether kneading by hand or using a stand mixer. 

● After the dough has risen the first time, knead the dough again until it returns to its original size and 
becomes smooth again.

How to fold Bao Buns without any sticking


To get the best results, ensure all of your rounds are the same size and thickness when rolled.  

Apply a small amount of oil before folding.

Place a small and thin skewer in the centre of the round and then fold over. 

Remove the skewer after the bao buns are steamed. 

How to steam Bao Buns in Instant Pot?

We have steamed the buns in our Instant Pot. 

You will need a Bamboo Steamer (stainless steel works fine too) - 7 inches to fit the Instant Pot. 

Place the folded bao onto small pieces of parchment paper that have been greased with oil - this will prevent the bread from sticking to the paper

Place the bao into the bamboo steamer and shut the lid. 

Add a cup of water to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Place the trivet in the centre. 

On the trivet place a stainless steel ring or a round cake tin without the base so steamer stays high

Arrange the buns in a bamboo steamer and place it in the pot (you need to steam these in batches)

Put the bamboo steamer onto the trivet and close the Instant Pot lid.

!REMEMBER TO KEEP THE PRESSURE VALVE VENTING AND NOT SEALING!

Choose STEAM mode for 5 minutes (remember to set another timer as Instant pot timer doesn't work in venting mode)

Once you start hearing the pressure releasing, set your timer then. 

Once done, open the lid and you'll have soft, fluffy and cooked all the way through bao buns ready to fill with the stuffing. 

Remove the skewer before you fill the stuffing. 

How to steam Bao Buns on a stovetop?


1. Place the buns in a steamer with parchment paper underneath of each bun. Keep at least 2 cm space between.

2. Add cold water in a big pot, put the steamer and cover it. Bring it to boil on HIGH heat. Turn the heat down once it starts boiling.

3. Cook for 12-15 minutes. 


Bao Bun Fillings

I couldn't decide on one filling - so I went with three!

I love my fusion food, so chose our popular Chilli Paneer recipe which went wonderfully with the soft buns. Tofu is a great vegan option. 

Sweet Potato works great with bao buns because of the texture difference. Recipe for Panko Sweet Potato is given below. 

1. Choose your main filling:

CHILLI PANEER - see our Chilli Paneer recipe

VEGAN TOFU CHILLI - Drain tofu and cut into chip style pieces, then follow Chilli Paneer recipe above but substitute the paneer for tofu. 

PANKO SWEET POTATO FRIES - cut sweet potatoes into matchsticks. Either roast in the oven or cook in the microwave until soft. Prepare a batter of cornstarch and coat the cooked fries. Dip into panko breadcrumbs and shallow fry in a non stick pan until crispy and golden outside. 

2. Spread hoisin sauce to one side of the bao bun.

3. Add pickled cucumber and carrot (prepare by adding slices of cucumber and shredded carrot with a pinch of sugar to vinegar and leave to sit for 30 mins)

4. Add roasted crushed peanuts.

5. Add finely chopped spring onion

6. Add chopped coriander leaves - optional

7. Add a drizzle of sriracha  - optional



Can I make the Bao Bun in advance? 


Yes, once the buns are made, allow to cool completely then cover and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Before you reheat allow to come to room temperature. These can be reheated in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or steam again for 2-3 minutes. 

Can I freeze the Bao Buns?


Yes, you can. Ensure the buns cool completely then freeze it in a suitable container. Allow defrosting at room temperature before reheating or steaming. 

Or steam straightaway in the steamer for 10-12 minutes. 

Other Instant Pot Recipes




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instant pot recipes, steamed bao buns, vegan bao buns recipe, instant pot bao buns, bao buns filling, vegan bao buns filling
Snacks, mains
Chinese
Yield: 8-9 BUNS
Author: Hayley Dhanecha
Print
INSTANT POT BAO BUNS 3 WAYS

INSTANT POT BAO BUNS 3 WAYS

How to make the perfect, fluffy and soft steamed bao buns in Instant Pot with a video recipe. With lots of tricks and tips you can make the perfect bao buns in your own kitchen.
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 10 Mininactive time: 1 H & 45 MTotal time: 2 Hour

Ingredients

Equipments/Tools
  • Electric stand mixer
  • Instant pot
  • Bambo steamer
  • Parchment paper or white large cupcake cases or wrappers
  • Long toothpick or bamboo skewers
Steamed Bao Buns {1 cup = 250ml} {1 tbsp = 15ml} {1tsp = 5ml}
  • 265g plain flour - 2 1/8 cup
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fast-action dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 25ml milk
  • 1.5 tsp. sunflower oil + 2 tbsp. more
  • 1.5 tsp. rice vinegar 
  • 100ml warm water

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer bowl add flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, milk, oil and water.
  2. Using a dough hook, mix everything on medium speed (you may need more warm water to bring everything together and make a sticky dough)
  3. Continue on medium speed until the dough turns glossy, soft, smooth to touch. This step may take 10-12 minutes. 
  4. Knead the dough in your hand or on a worktop for a minute or so.
  5. Arrange the inner pot of Instant pot by placing a parchment paper in it. 
  6. Place the dough in the pot and cover it with the glass lid. 
  7. Turn the Yogurt mode on and PROVE the dough for 1 hour. 
  8. The dough should be doubled in size.
  9. Remove the risen dough from the pot, punch it down to remove air bubbles and knead for a couple of minutes on a lightly floured surface. 
  10. Roll out the dough into a long sausage, then cut into 8-9 pieces. 
  11. Roll out each piece into the round ball.
  12. With using a rolling pin roll out each ball into an oval shape, about 5-6mm hight.
  13. Apply some oil on the rolled dough, and place a toothpick or bamboo skewers in the centre of each oval.
  14. Fold the dough into half, do not press. 
  15. Cut out 8-9 squares of baking parchment or use white cupcake cases or wrappers and place the bun on each paper.
  16. Cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise again for 30-40 minutes in a warm place.
  17. Now prepare the instant pot to steam the buns. Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot and place a trivet.
  18. On the trivet place a stainless steel ring or a round cake tin without the base so steamer stays high. 
  19. Arrange the buns in a bamboo steamer and place it in the pot (you need to steam these in batches)
  20. Close the lid and MAKE SURE THE PRESSURE VALVE SET ON VENTING position. 
  21. Choose STEAM mode for 5 minutes (remember to set another timer as Instant pot timer doesn't work in venting mode)
  22. Once you start hearing the pressure set timer then. 
  23. Once done, open the lid and you'll have soft, fluffy and cooked all the way through bao buns ready to fill the stuffing. 
  24. Remove the skewer before you fill the stuffing. 
  25. Enjoy warm bao buns.

Notes:

This recipe can be halved or doubled.

For the stuffing recipe check the post above.

Don't have the Instant pot? use the traditional steaming method, check the post above.

Calories

98.20

Fat (grams)

2.65

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.63

Carbs (grams)

16.79

Fiber (grams)

0.68

Net carbs

16.12

Sugar (grams)

4.76

Protein (grams)

2.00

Sodium (milligrams)

58.56

Cholesterol (grams)

2.06
The nutritional information provided is an approximation calculated by an online calculator. Please consult a professional dietitian for nutritional advice.
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