Updated: Jul 25
These char siu buns are infamous throughout China towns across the world. What makes a really good char siu bun is a crispy fresh out of the oven bun with a soft and springy dough. The buns base is similar to milk bread and for the centre I decided to add a little texture to the char siu by adding cashews and sliced spring onions. Im genuinely excited to share this recipe and its one of those that you need to make asap! For this recipe I use a kitchen aid to kneed the dough, however, it is possible to be made by hand. With all that said let's get straight into it!
Prep Time 60 mins + 1hr 20mins proving time / Bake Time 15 mins
To yield 12 buns
400g bread flour
245ml whole milk
60g salted butter
7g active dried yeast
2 medium eggs (1 for egg wash)
Char Siu and Cashew Filling:
350-400g Char siu (Recipe here)
4 spring onions
50g cashew nuts
2 garlic cloves
10g minced ginger
4 tbsp hoisin
2 tbsp sake or cooking wine
2 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornflour + touch of water to dilute
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp honey + 1 tsp water
Let's begin this recipe with making the dough, this will take the longest due to the proving time. For this recipe I use a kitchen aid to assist as the dough can be quite wet when kneading. Start by heating 245ml of milk either in a microwave or in a pan. When the temperature of the milk reaches approximately 45°c add 7g of active dried yeast and mix well. Leave to sit for 10 minutes until the milk starts to foam. Now in a mixing bowl add 400g of bread flour, 45g of sugar, 60g softened salted butter, 3g of salt, 1 medium egg and the yeast and milk when ready. Place the bowl with all the ingredients into a kitchen aid fitted with a dough hook.
2. Next we want to mix the dough in the kitchen aid on a mid to high setting for 10 minutes until the dough becomes silky smooth and elastic. (If you are kneading by hand then you may want to dust your hands generously with flour before kneading as the dough is quite sticky at this point). When the dough is ready place into a bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with clingfilm and allow the dough to prove an a humid area for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Char siu and cashew filling:
3. Whilst we wait for the dough to prove we can now move onto making the filling. Begin by slicing approximately 350-400g of cooked char siu into a medium sized dice then when ready place into a bowl. Now finely chop 10g of ginger and 2 garlic cloves then add to a small pan with a touch of cooking oil. Sweat the minced garlic and ginger for 2 minutes on a low heat until fragrant. When ready now add 2 tbsp sake or cooking wine, 4 tbsp hoisin, 2 tbsp light soy, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice and 1 tbsp sugar then mix well. Bring to a low simmer then to thicken dilute 1 tbsp of corn with a drop of water then add to the sauce. Turn the heat up to high and cook out almost like a roux until thickened. When ready place into a bowl and leave to chill to one side.
4. To finish the filling we now want to add 50g of cashew nuts to a dry hot pan and toast. When the cashews are ready, roughly crush with a knife to leave a little texture. Now in a mixing bowl we want to add the sauce when chilled, the diced char siu, the toasted cashews, 4 sliced spring onion and season with a pinch of white pepper. Mix well then place the filling to one side.
5. Now back to the dough, by this point the dough should have finished proving and have doubled in size. Knock back the dough to release any air within the dough then place onto a work surface. We now want to divide the dough into 12 equal pieces approximately 64g in weight. When the dough is divided shape each piece into smooth balls of dough using your palm then place all the shaped pieces to one side and cover with clingfilm.
6. We now want to shape and fill each ball of dough individually. Take out one of the balls of dough and flatten with your palm. When flat use a small rolling pin to roll the dough into into a disk approximately 3 inches in diameter. To fill place 1 tbsp of the filling into the centre of the dough then pinch the edges together to enclose the filling. Pinch the seal tightly to form a ball and ensure there are no openings within the dough. Carefully reshape the dough back into a ball and repeat this process for each ball of dough.
7. When all of the dough is filled spread each ball out evenly onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with clingfilm and allow the filled balls of dough to prove 1 final time for 15-20 minutes.
8. Now we are ready to bake, whisk 1 whole egg in a small bowl then lightly brush each of the buns. When brushed we can make the buns slightly fancier by sprinkling over some toasted sesame seeds. We can now bake in a preheated oven set at 170°c and bake for 15 minutes or until nice and golden brown.
9. Now to serve, personally these buns are on a whole other level when eaten fresh straight out of the oven. To step the buns up again I like to dilute a tbsp of honey with a touch of water and brush the honey glaze over the baked buns when ready. Have fun making these char siu buns I'm sure you will love them!
Instead of filling these buns with char siu I also wanted to try some braised beef brisket with 5 spice. I guess you could go crazy as to what to add to these buns I will leave you to use you imagination...Have fun and I'm sure you will love this recipe!