Steamed Bao

Red Banana and Cocoa Steamed Bao, adapted from Dim Sum by Ellen Leong Blonder

Think almost bananas foster, without the rum.

Steamed Bao Dough


  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  1. Mix the yeast with the water and sugar and let stand for 10 min.
  2. Stir in cake flour till blended.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or till puffed and bubbly (and it will be bubbly).


  • 1/2 tsp salt (I always cut the salt by at least half)
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbs vegetable shortening (I used vegetable oil)
  1. Stir salt and vinegar into the starter.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and stir into yeast mixture.
  3. Add shortening and work till the dough becomes a sticky, shaggy mass.
  4. Knead till smooth, adding flour as necessary.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Punch down dough.

Steaming the Bao

  1. Line a steamer basket with several layers of cheesecloth. Cut 2 inch squares of parchment paper (admittedly annoying, but some of the bao WILL stick to the cheesecloth and prying bao off of steaming cheesecloth with chopsticks (better than fingers) is NOT fun).
  2. Divide the dough into approx. 24 pieces. Create 3 1/2 inch circles. Place filling (see below) in center.
  3. Gather sides and pinch closed around the filling. Place seam down on the parchment paper (otherwise the seam will split).
  4. Place boa in steamer roughly 1 inch apart. Let rise for 30 min.
  5. Steam boa in a single layer for 12 min.

I didn’t serve the bao hot, which meant that they were tougher than they should have been. This was a trade off to avoid steaming bao while guests arrived, and to make them finger food. They are much better fresh, but still good cold.


  • 3 red bananas
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Cocoa powder (maybe 1 tsp)
  • Champagne vinegar (maybe 1 tbs)
  1. Smash bananas (I find that using a muddler works REALLY well)
  2. Mix over low heat with brown sugar and vegetable oil.
  3. Add cocoa powder and vinegar to taste.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling bao.  The filling can be made in advance, and then refrigerated.  It would need to warm to room temperature before filling.



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