Beautiful soft fluffy pillowy buns filled with a delicious velvety coconut milk egg custard, which can be eaten just steamed or steamed and fried. A stunning dim sum favourite that you can perfectly recreate at home!
I wanted to share something with you all that is very close to my heart, dim sum! It brought me and my hubbie together and to this day we still have our dim sum dates. It is my favourite food in the world and I can never tire of it, I mean how could you with all the gorgeous varieties! For a long time I would always just get the savoury dim sums and by the time we had finished everyone would be too full for dessert, and that says something as I cannot go to a restaurant and not order dessert at the end of a meal! But with dim sum there would be so many different little gorgeous bites that by the end there would be no room for anything sweet!
Now it was like a rite of passage in my family to take my children for their very first dim sum experience. We did a big hoo ha and lots of pictures were taken! Oh God, I have turned into one of those embarrassing parents! But what to do we really do love our dim sum that much! My son loved it straight away, and we loved our family dim sum dates but unfortunately my daughter is still going through a very picky phase and so we needed to try different things than what we usually order and so for the very first time we ordered fried custard buns. I didn’t think that I could love dim sum anymore but oh my, it was love at first bite and now it is a firm favourite for us all. So much so that I had to try recreating them at home, as unfortunately all the Chinese restaurants near me only serve dim sum at lunch service and so we can not get our beloved custard buns as and when we please.
After a lot of experimenting I am so happy to share my custard buns recipe which is exactly like the ones we have at the restaurant but bigger! I of course have to make them bigger! They are just so moreishly delicious & really are little pillows of fluffy yumminess.
You can either have it just steamed so they are beautifully soft & fluffy or steamed & then flash fried so they are gorgeously crisp on the outside and then soft & fluffy on the inside (best of both worlds in my opinion) & the prize hidden in the centre is a delicate custard which has been made with coconut milk for added flavour & richness. With a cup of tea, and one of these Chinese donuts, as my kids like to call them, I am in heaven!
CHINESE CUSTARD BUNS (LAI WONG BAO)
- 2 cups (260g) plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp instant yeast
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp oil
- ¾ cup (185ml) milk
- Oil for greasing hands
- Milk for smoothing out the buns
- Oil if you want fried custard buns
- Custard Filing:
- ½ cup (65g) wheat starch
- 2 ½ tbsp custard powder
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- ½ cup (125ml) coconut milk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- Step 1 Make Buns: In the bowl of the stand mixer combine the flour, yeast, sugar and oil.
- Step 2 Using the dough hook attachment start to slowly beat the mixture whilst pouring in the milk. Let the mixture come together into a dough and then increase the speed and let the hook knead the dough for at least 10 minutes. Dough will be smooth and soft but not sticky.
- Step 3 Cover the bowl with a wet teacloth and leave to proof in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size. It took my dough approximately an hour but it all depends on the temperature of your kitchen. It is really important not to overproof your dough.
- Step 4 Make Custard Filling: Whilst the dough is proofing make the custard filling. In a large pan, mix together the wheat starch, custard powder, cornflour, salt and coconut milk.
- Step 5 Over a medium low heat whisk the mixture until it is smooth, approximately 3 minutes.
- Step 6 Add in the butter and keep whisking until it has melted and is fully mixed into the mixture.
- Step 7 Reduce the heat to low and whilst whisking continuously slowly pour in the egg yolks. Keep whisking, as otherwise the eggs will scramble. Continuously whisk for at least 2 -3 minutes.
- Step 8 The mixture will start to thicken, keep mixing but less vigorously now with a spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to come together and completely come away from the pan when mixed with a spatula.
- Step 9 Allow to cool completely. Once cooled role the mixture into small balls (12 – 14) depending on the size of buns you want. Mixture should not be sticky and unrollable, but it does help to lightly grease your hands with oil to help with the rolling.
- Step 10 Leave the custard balls in the fridge until you are ready to assemble into buns.
- Step 11 Once the dough for the buns has doubled in size, attach the bowl back into the stand mixer and with a dough hook beat the dough again on medium for 10 minutes.
- Step 12 Cut out 12 -14 square pieces of baking paper large enough to hold a singe custard bun. Set aside.
- Step 13 Transfer the dough onto a work surface and divide into 12 – 14 equal sections. You should not need additional flour on the work surfaces to roll out the dough, but if it is slightly sticky use a little bit of flour.
- Step 14 Take one piece of dough and roll it into a sausage shape, and then fold the two ends into the centre. Repeat one more time. This is to help remove any bubbles in the dough so that you can get smooth buns. Make sure remaining dough sections are covered with a wet tea towel, so they do not dry out.
- Step 15 Roll the dough piece into a circle large enough to completely wrap around a custard ball.
- Step 16 Place a custard ball into the centre and gently bring all the edges in to seal and form a ball shape. Gently roll in your palms to make it smooth. Place on a piece of cut out baking paper.
- Step 17 Using the palms of both your hands gently push the sides of the bun so that it becomes taller and almost oval. This will help the bun to become nice and round once its proofed rather than spread out.
- Step 18 Lightly dip a finger in some milk and use it to smooth the top of the bun.
- Step 19 Place the bun in the steamer, cover with the lid and leave to proof until the bun has puffed up (not doubled in size – please do not overproof). It takes approximately 10 – 20 minutes (depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
- Step 20 Repeat until you have made all the buns. You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your steamer.
- Step 21 Bring a pan of water to boil, place the steamer on top and on medium heat steam the buns for 15 minutes.
- Step 22 Once the 15 minutes are over, take the steamer of the pan but do not open the lid as all the excess water will drip onto the buns. Leave the lid on for 5 minutes and then remove and take the buns out of the steamer.
- Step 23 Eat whilst warm if you want steamed custard buns.
- Step 24 For Fried Custard Buns: Heat enough oil to fully cover a bun and on a high temperature place the just steamed buns into the oil. If the buns start forming bubbles, this means the oil is too hot. The buns will start to turn golden fairly quickly so keep an eye and as soon as it has become golden, remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Eat whilst warm.
- Step 25 To Reheat: This only applies to the steamed custard buns. Resteam on a high heat for 10 minutes.
- Step 26 Enjoy x