The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chinese Bakery Buns - Lightness

  • Pin It
Pointandshooter's picture

Chinese Bakery Buns - Lightness

I am new to breadmaking and am totally addicted to my weekly dose of fresh bread (only have time on the weekends  :-(   ).

A friend of mine recently introduced me to a couple of local Chinese bakeries.  They make a variety of sweet and savory buns, stuffed with an assortment of meat, eggs, sweet bean paste etc.  I don't particularly like the fillings but I thuroughly enjoy the supremely light texture and soft brown outer shell. 

I have been trying to adopt my tray bun recipes to mimic those Chinese buns and failed.  I have not been able to achieve the lightness of the texture or the soft (yet golden brown) outer shell. 

If you take one of those Chinese bakery bun and weigh it against a standard giant grocery chain tray bun, each one of grocery chain gun would equal two Chinese buns.  Also, even with egg wash, I was not able to achieve the SOFT golden brown outer shell, my buns tend to be a lot more crusty. 

Any tips from the experienced folks here would be greatly appreciated.

siuflower's picture

You may try this web site and there are plenty of Chinese/Japanese  bun recipes.


Caltrain's picture

To get that creamy, soft crust and crumb, recipes often use a water roux, which is made by slowly heating water and flour until it gelantizes. Also, there's almost always milk plus generous amounts of sugar, oil, or shortening to help.

Take a look at this recipe for pointers. But outside of the water roux, there's really not too many secrets. If the bread feels too dense, just keep dumping in more oil, sugar, or whatever else will stop your heart in its tracks. :p

txfarmer's picture

And I started out making those light buns/breads, now expanding my horizon to lean doughs and sourdough breads.


The above link to the Japanese style buns is a good start, and water roux is indeed helpful to keep the bread softer and fresh longer, however I can make them with straight dough method and still get the lightness. The key is in the kneading. Of course you need a slightly enriched dough (<10% butter to flour, with 1 to 2 eggs per 500g of flour, 10% to 15% sugar, maybe milk as liquid, sometimes yogurt/cream cheese in the dough but not necessary), then you knead it to death. It's the opposite of artisan lean breads which require less kneading, more stretch and fold. A stand mixer is REALLY helpful here. I just made a batch with 500g of flour a week ago, kneaded in my KA pro 6 for 20 to 25 minutes. The more you knead it, the more gluten gets streghtened and organized, the crumb becomes finer and lighter. You almost want to experiment to see what's the maximum time you can mix the dough wtihout overkneading and collapsing. If you knead by hand, it's tougher and takes practicing. You might want to start out with a small batch and knead it VERY WELL.


Basically you want to knead it to the point that when you take a small piece and stretch out to do the "windowpane" test, you can get a very thin very strong one. Transparent and wrapped around your hand without tearing - like a silk stocking. To get that you need a strong bread flour (I use KA bread flour) and again, lots of kneading.


example of windowpane necessary for the lightness:

example of light crumb

Note that the rolls in the picture are made with the basic white bread recipe from BBA, variation #1, which is a slightly enriched straight dough.


edit to add: to get the soft crust, I like to brush it with melted butter right AFTER it's out of the oven. Some of my fellow Chinese bakers like to brush with evaporated milk before baking, but I think the color is less golden, and not as fragrant as butter.

Yippee's picture

Maybe the following formula I tried before and the variation of it would also be helpful to achieve what you desire:

 Yippee (Chinese)

Chausiubao's picture

I've been working with a formula that gets a really nice light, fluffy crumb using 10% butter and 10% vegetable oil.

This in addition to milk and milk powder plus an intensive mix makes an excellent "chan bao".


Pointandshooter's picture

Looked at the various pictures, the texture looks just like the ones from the Chinese bakeries here, will definitely try the water roux method.

Never really worked with percentage before, my recipes are all old style cups/tbs/oz type of recipes.  I usually use my breadmaker to mix and knit the dough, for a standard batch of dough with 4 cups of flour, how much butter/oil would that be?  Is there an article which tells me how recipe these numbers work?  I assume I would be reducing my water/milk accordingly to get the consistency right.

Pointandshooter's picture

Hehe, never mind my dumb question above, read the handbook and understand now.  Need to buy a good scale...

Yippee's picture

for intensive mixing.  All the breads shown were kneaded by my Zojirushi but they were baked in the oven.

Glad that I got what you're looking for.