Breakfast Steamed Buns: Chinese Baos with Ham and Cheese

I wasn’t planning on doing a spin-off on the bun post. But this is for a reader by the name of Mike C. Why? Because he asked. (Thanks to you, Mike, not only do I have something to blog about, but I am also equipped with two dozens grab-n-go breakfast baos in the refrigerator.) Also, another commenter, gagz135, mentioned an idea which I had done for quite sometime, i.e. to fill the plain buns with ham and cheese. That’s essentially what these breakfast buns are about.

There’s not a recipe, really. It’s just a matter of filling the buns (either the original recipe or the one that produces buns with lighter texture) with the protein parts of your breakfast. A combination of soft-scrambled eggs, cold cuts, and any kind of semi-soft cheese, works well. The cheese is important, because it will melt during the steaming process and “glue” the egg bits and the meat bits together. Without the cheese, your filling will be very crumbly which is fine tastewise, but makes it pretty darn hard to eat without spilling stuff all over yourself.

For the batch shown here, I mixed two large eggs, scrambled, with a quarter of a cup each of cubed salami and cubed smoked Gouda (with built-in coarsely-cracked peppercorn). I like the combination of cured meats and smoked cheeses, because it introduces a smoky element to steamed bread which is intrinsically bland. Fire and smoke teaming up with vapor, if that makes any sense. But, of course, you use what you like. Pre-crisped bacon bits are also delicious. If you like a little zip in your breakfast buns, add chopped pimiento or peperoncini. Anything you want, really. Be the master of your filling domain.

All you have to do is divide the dough (after the first rising and after another teaspoon of baking powder has already been incorporated into it) into 12 equal pieces. With your fingers, flatten each dough ball into a circle, approximately 4 inches in diameter. Place about two tablespoonfuls of the filling into the center and carefully gather up the edges and pinch to form a good seal. Then what I do is place each one of the filled buns on a piece of waxed paper seams-side down to get a smooth top. The filled buns are then left to rise the second time and steamed for 10 minutes. (See more detailed instructions in the original post.)

Related Posts:
Plain Chinese Steamed Buns: Ancient Sword Heroes’ Power Snack
Chinese Steamed Buns Revisited
Chinese Steamed Buns with Sweet Almond Cream Filling

12 Responses to Breakfast Steamed Buns: Chinese Baos with Ham and Cheese

  1. Mike C March 6, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    Thanks for posting this, Leela! I think I may need to try filling these with some kind of lychee or plum paste or some such…

  2. Leela March 6, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    Lychee? Whoa Mike … 🙂
    That’s very creative. I’m planning on messing around with some fruit-based fillings this weekend. But lychee… That has never crossed my mind.

    Hmm … I think you’ve just an idea in my head.

  3. Anonymous March 6, 2009 at 3:09 am #

    Even I would eat these …


  4. Sapuche March 7, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    What a great way to combine Chinese steamed buns with ham and cheese! I often take onigiri with me on hikes or to the beach, but these would be great for a morning outing, too. With coffee, of course! Oh, and please let us know how the fruit-based fillings turn out. They sound really interesting!

  5. Carolyn Jung March 8, 2009 at 12:07 am #

    Great breakfast idea! When I was a kid, I loved the buns with just a tad of hoisin sauce. I didn’t even need the Peking duck that came with it. As an adult now, though, I totally appreciate the crispy, slightly fatty skin, and tender meat. 😉

  6. Dietitian for Hire March 19, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    love it

  7. Murasaki March 21, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Thanks for the great recipe. I will definitely try that.
    I’m wondering whether it would be a good idea to mix fruits and chocolat-chips or maybe Nutella oder would the dough soak up the melted chocolat?

  8. Leela March 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    Everybody, check out Murasaki’s knitting blog! Too cool.

    To answer your question, yes. In fact, I just experimented with mixing half plain dough and half chocolate dough into unfilled chocolate marbled buns. But I’ve found that they needed some kind of sweet filling. And my first thought was, “Nutella!”

    Your instinct is right about how the consistency of something like Nutella, when used as a filling to be steamed/baked along with the bread, could be too gooey. The traditional Chinese fillings are starch-based (beans mostly) because of this reason. Your filling needs, to borrow Alton Brown’s terminology, a “dryer” meaning some kind of dry ingredient which will add body to the filling. I once experimented with pastry cream filling and found it to be too wet and runny and cause the bread to be too soggy.

    I will be posting a few filling recipes in the next week. Please check back.

  9. Anonymous May 14, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    I made these several years ago with a blueberry and goat cheese filling. Excellent! Strawberries or peaches were just as superb. I love the soft, pillowy texture of steamed buns and the burst of flavor inside.

  10. Caroline at Engineer and an Oven January 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I just wanted to thank you for your in-depth information regarding the bao dough and fillings! I was coming off of a dissapointing batch of bao and was searching for a great recipe to try – this was it! If you’re interested, you can see my Char siu bao post using your dough recipe here:

    My husband was so happy that I finally made a successful bao that he can’t wait for me to make them again (and I plan to experiment with all sorts of fillings in the future!)

    Thank you!

  11. Mollie May 31, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

    Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog after living in Thailand for the last year or so. I’m beyond excited to get cooking with more recipes than the few that I have. I’m particularly excited about Pad Ka-phrao and Phak Bung Fai Deng. I’m wondering–do you cook the scrambled egg mixture before you put it in the bun? Thanks!

    • Leela June 1, 2015 at 11:26 am #