buns for buns

On monday I told you about my religious pork experience. It was heavenly. It was sweet and salty and fatty and insanely scrumptious. But it was naked.

Until I made these little puppies to stuff the pork into. Using David Chang’s Momofuku steamed bun recipe, I embarked on a journey. A journey to make homemade steamed buns. And it was a long one.

And fair warning—this may be the world’s longest post because this is one of the world’s longest recipes. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and marvel and how freaking long it took me to make these suckers.

It started with a bowlful of crazy measurements: 4 1/4 cups bread flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, a rounded 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening.

I then stuck the dough hook on my mixer…

And dumped in 1 1/2 cups of room temperature water and 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon active dry yeast.

For some reason it always creeps me out that yeast floats. And that it’s alive. And could eat me.

Next, Chang told me to dump in the bowl of dry ingredients and start mixing. And when Chang tells you to do something, you do it.

Keep the mixer on low for about 10 minutes. The dough will begin to clump…

…then to form a ball…

…and finally, it will form a big ‘ol mass that is weirdly not sticky.

Turn the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and stick in a warm place for a little over an hour or until doubled in size.

Never underestimate the importance of a warm place when you need something to rise. Seriously.

Doubled! Punch it down and turn it out onto a clean cutting board.

Slice in half…

…and then cut each half into 5 (roughly equal) pieces.

Roll each piece out…

…and then slice that piece into 5 pieces.

If you’re any good with numbers at all then you just figured out that this recipe makes 50 buns. Yep. 50. Five. Zero.

Roll each piece into a little ball…

…and place them on a baking sheet.

On the bright side, after all of your hard work you now have a small army of dough balls that will always have your back. They excel at street fighting, shanking and parkour. Don’t ask me where they learned it.

Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut out 50 squares of parchment paper and grab a chopstick,

a rolling pin, and some more shortening.

After the half hour is up, you now have a stronger and more robust dough ball army.

Grab one of your little soldiers…

…and smash him down with your palm.

Grab your rolling pin and roll that little puppy out until it’s about 4 inches long.

Grease your chopstick with the shortening, lay it in the middle of the dough oval…

…and fold over.

Place the bun on a parchment square and remove the chopstick.

Eventually I got into assembly-line mode and rolled three at once.

It still took forever.

But it was a little fun sticking the chopstick into the shortening. I found it helpful to grease it often so nothing stuck.

After you’ve rolled all 50, cover and let them rest for 30-45 minutes.

Ready to steam? Woo hoo! Almost done! I just used my veggie steamer, since I don’t own any other kind. Place a few in the steamer, cover tightly, and steam for 10 minutes.

If you’re doing 5 at a time, it will only take you about two hours. No biggie.

Pouf. Steamed buns.

Let them cool a while before storing in an airtight container or freezing.

Or, if you’re going to eat them right away, they’re ready to go.

They were, for the record, worth the day-long prep time. They were soft, chewy, moist, and completely yummy.

Will I make them again?

Umm…probably not. I’m so glad that I did, but they were a little too labor intensive for a lazy gal like me. Plus, a little bird told me that you can buy them here.

Tomorrow I’ll show you what we filled these beautiful buns with. You’ll definitely want to see the finished product!

Thanks for reading the longest post known to man. You rock.



  1. Hee, I’m imagining your dough ball army running amok in the streets, doing parkour and battling other dough balls, and am now highly entertained.

    Also, these look delicious. Well done!

  2. Oh my gosh….I’m trying to imagine what those taste like with the pork…there are no words!

  3. Day-long prep is a bit much, but I’m convinced that I want to LIVE in one of these. Along with that pork? Gah, so delicious!

  4. It looks like it was totally worth all of the work

  5. Wow! I can find the buns that he uses in Chinatown, but these homemade ones look so much more fluffy and wonderful. I know what I’m doing next weekend!

  6. Steamed bun are my absolute FAVE but I’ve never had the guts to make the buns myself. Brava, madam, brava.

  7. I recently unearthed an unused and sadly forgotten about steamer from behind an army of baby bottles (buh-bye baby bottles!!!). I think it’s high time for me to track down some pork belly and make some of these delicious steamed buns. Right after James fixes my KitchenAid. Again.

  8. Christine says:

    I found thawed Bridgeford bread loaves are an easy substitute. Thaw dough as directed. Divide loaf in six pieces. Follow instructions from “grab one of your little soldiers” and continue as above recipe says. Just a little short cut to save some time.

  9. Im halfway there and having so much fun! The pork is in the fridge, cooling! Thanks for the post!

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