Gua Bao (割包)

Gua Bao (割包)
Who knew? Chinese buns, or bao, are actually easy to make at home!  ‘Gua Bao’ (割包, which literally means ‘sliced-wrappers’) are a popular snack (小吃) in Taiwan and are said to have originated in Fuzhou. These sandwich-style buns are probably one of the easiest Chinese buns to make in terms of shaping as well. I used a simple braised pork in sweet soy sauce as a filling for these, but you could also fill them with roast duck slices with green onions and generous dabs of hoisin sauce, hong shao rou (红烧肉), or the traditional braised pork belly. This recipe makes about a dozen decent sized bao.
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup pao flour*
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

*Cook’s Note: Pao flour is essentially a fine textured, bleached all purpose flour, you can find it in Asian grocery stores. You can use all-purpose flour in this recipe, but your buns will turn out slightly yellowish and may be a bit chewy. A better substitute is cake flour, which has less protein (about 8%), and a very fine texture and light colour. This means it won’t produce as much chewy gluten when you knead the dough, which in turn will produce soft, fluffy white bao.


1.  First, prepare the yeast mixture by mixing the yeast and 2 tablespoons of warm water, 1 teaspoon of pao flour and 1 teaspoon of self-rising flour in a small bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.  The yeast mixture should froth, if not redo this step as it means your yeast has ‘died’.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift in the remaining self rising and pao flour together.  Add in the yeast mixture, sugar, melted butter and the rest of the warm water.  Stir with a wooden spoon gently to form a soft dough.

3.  Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and start kneading for about 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

4.  Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough into the bowl.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave in a place away from drafts for proofing about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

5.  Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and gently punch the dough down.  Knead again for about 5 minutes until smooth.  Roll to form a log of sorts.

6.  Divide the dough roughly into 12 portions, shape each portion into a ball and roll flat with a rolling pin.

7.  Place the folded buns onto parchment/ baking paper squares (cut larger than dough) as they will expand while steaming.

8.  Steam over high heat for about 15 minutes.  Gently open up the buns and put in whatever fillings you desire.  Serve hot or warm.