Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Flower Buns

Flower buns are steamed buns in the shape of a flower and have no fillings, so they have to be eaten with stewed meat like Hong Bak or Tong Po pork. I have made them from quite a number of recipes but this one is from Jo's Deli Bakery.

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Dough Starter:
135g cake/superfine flour, sifted
45g pau flour, sifted
1 tsp instant yeast
A pinch of salt
100g water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix and knead (by hand or by mixer) until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and covered with cling film. Prove for 11/2-2 hour until dough is double in volume.
Divide dough to 70g portions. Reserve one portion for this recipe and store the rest in an air tight container and freeze. Thaw to room temperature the next time you want to use the dough starter.


Main Dough:
200g cake/superfine flour
100g pau flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
6g soy flour
50g castor sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
130g water
70g Dough Starter
10g shortening

For greasing:
2 tbsp shortening
2 tbsp castor sugar


Prepare main dough: Sift cake flour, pau flour, baking powder and soy flour into a mixing bowl. Combine flours with sugar, yeast and water. Beat until a smooth dough is formed.
Add in dough starter and shortening. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth, elastic and close to the stage where a thin membrane can be formed when dough is stretched
To prepare greasing, mix shortening and castor sugar in a bowl. Mix well using a spoon until sugar dissolve a little.

To prepare Flower Bun:

Divide dough into 11 portions of 50g small doughs. Roll each portion out to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a knife or pizza cutter, cut a few lines on the dough. Leave both ends of dough un-cut
Apply the sugar greasing onto dough . Twist the dough . Tie dough into a knot . Repeat for other dough.
Cover Flower Buns with a damp cloth and prove for 30 minutes.
Boil water in a steamer. Reduce fire to medium heat. Steam Flower Buns for 10 minutes.
Serve while Flower Buns are still hot.


The dough starter recipe will give you about 4 portions of starters. Store the rest in air-tight container in freezer. Just bring a portion of starter back to room temperature when you need it for other pau products. Use it for making e.g. Steamed Man Tou, Meat & Vegetable Pau, Char Siew Pau (Barbecued Pork Pau) etc.

Unlike bread dough, dough for pau product does not have to be kneaded to the thin membrane stage. Knead until gluten is formed in dough.
Please adjust water content of this recipe. Remember amount of water required depends on types of flour used, type of liquid used, temperature and humidity of atmosphere at the time of making the pau.
Unless the dough is too sticky to work with, avoid using too much flour to dust your working surface. This may result in thick and hard pau skin.
Avoid water condensate at steamer's lid from dropping to the man tou. Dry lid with a cloth every time you uncover the steamer.
Don't worry if your product is not as white as those sold in the restaurant. This is because you do not use 100% bleached pau flour in this recipe. I mixed pau flour with superfine/cake (low protein) flour so that texture of pau would not be too chewy.
If you are not able to finish all the flower buns at one time, keep them in an air-tight container or plastic bag and freeze. Just reheat them whenever you want to have them. Estimated storage period is 2-3 months.


Edith said...

so pretty!!!!!

Anonymous said...

looks delicious. can you tell me where to find pau flour? i live near a chinatown so should not be difficult to find, but i have never purchased this before. thanks!

Unknown said...


forget about pau flour if not available. just use all cake flour

Unknown said...

hi lily thanks for the recipe. i tried it out and it turned out ok but i think i didn't knot it 'tight' enuff cos it seemed to spread out while steaming so didn't look as nice. also it wasn't as soft as i'd wanted it to be. any idea where i went wrong? it was just slightly tough/chewy. thanks

Unknown said...

thanks for the recipe. just tried it. was ok but think it cld've been softer. any idea where i could've gone wrong? thanks

Unknown said...


the only thing that make the buns chewy is the type of flour. a less gluten flour will make softer paus

Anonymous said...

can i use bread flour instead of pau flour?

Unknown said...


bread flour has too much gluten and the buns will have a sticky bite to them

Anonymous said...

Lily, about this - could I use just the pau recipe you have?

Secondly, on another note, remember "mie koo"? Red colored buns with no fillings, usually served during "gau wong yeh" - ninth month fest.
i remember it has a slight buttery taste. More moist than pau and the texture is slightly more crumbly, like rougher than pau.

Would you have the recipe for "mie koo"?

- Ling

Unknown said...


here is a mee koo recipe from Lucy

Anonymous said...

Perfect. Thanks!

- ling

Anonymous said...

hi lily, i'm doreen, i would like to ask about the ingredient soy flour, it that a protien type powder? Tks.

Unknown said...


i think that protein type powder is gluten flour.

soy flour is flour ground from soya beans. It is present in this recipe to make pau softer but i have made without it and the pau is just as soft. Omit it if not available.

Wa-Wa said...

hi.. do you have step by step show how to make this?? i have problem to shape the bao.. :(

Unknown said...


here is a link where there is a step by step instruction on how to -

issa said...

hi there,
Is it possible that i use all purpose flour instead of cake flour and soy flour?
I can't find cake flour in my nearer store.
Also, can i substitute shortening with margerine?

Unknown said...


absolutely, sub all-purpose flour for cake flour and margarine for shortening.

BPLow said...

Hi Lily,

I intend to try this recipe but since this is my first time making bread, I am unclear how to get the 70gm Dough Starter which is needed in the recipe. Please advise. Thanks!

Unknown said...


using the weigh as you would the other ingredients.

the dough starter ingredients and method are on top. when ready, weigh 70 gm and put the rest in the fridge for later use

Carris said...

Hi Lily,

Have been looking for this recipe a long time and thank you for sharing it. Will definately try this recipe but before i do so, can you please tell me how long should i prove the dough starter? It says here 11/2-2 what does that mean?

Hope you can tell me soon so that i can start trying this recipe.

Thank you very much.


Unknown said...


the starter dough will be double it's original size by 1 to 1 1/2 hour. Time is only an estimation. I would suggest that you leave dough in a straight sided container - mark the dough height on the outside of container, then make a mark which is double this height. When the dough has risen to the second mark, then the starter dough is ready.

Carris said...

Hi Lily,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Can't wait to try this and will definately let you know the result.


maliah said...

It looks great. I would like to try out this flower bun. Thank you for sharing.

aira said...

hai lily
why my pao skin look glossy/shiny?did i use to much water,acctualy my dough was little bit stiky but still manageable.. I ussualy use you super soft pao recipes to make pao,but i cant troubleshoot why my pao's skin look shiny after steam.
Could u help me which recipes should i try to make mantou which is cottony soft,fluffy but dense in texture(just like mantou that i ussualy buy in store,freeeze pakage)

Unknown said...


if you have used too much water then the pao pattern will not hold up and more flat. if your pao skin look glossy and shinny, you are getting it right. it is shinny cos there is alot of fat used in this recipe. Use this recipe for the mantou, it should be fine

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