Mini baked char siu buns

By now , you've probably heard about Tim Ho Wan . With several branches overseas , you don't have to go to smoggy Hongkong just to taste their ever popular baked char siu buns ! I haven't had those for a while now , the shops here are still teeming with people at any given day . Few days ago , I've passed one of the shops at Sham Shui Po and saw lots of people waiting for their turn .

I have some leftover char siu few days ago and short of making char siu fried rice , again , I decided to try the recipe from one of the cookbooks that I borrowed from the library . I have a hankering for homemade bread lately and what better way to use the char siu than making some savoury rolls ?!

Unlike the original baked pineapple char siu bun , this version , which was popularized ( ? ) by that dim sum chain , is more like a Mexican bun with char siu filling . Mexican bun , a close cousin of pineapple bun , has a pale , thin , sweet crust around the whole bun rather than just a thick and craggy crust on top . According to this site , this bun was invented in 1947 by the Ng family who returned to Hongkong after years of living in Mexico . They created this bun which was a cross between a bo lo bao or pineapple bun and a traditional Mexican sweet roll called concha . 

This is actually a Mexico bun recipe which I just filled with char siu filling . I've been looking high and low for a Tim Ho Wan copycat recipe online but to no avail . I've seen one recipe of this kind of baked buns at the library but it calls for 250 grams of butter and 250 grams of lard for the topping alone , I kid you not  ! I felt my arteries clog after reading the list lol Even if I make half of that recipe , the amount of fats is still jarring - this from somebody who recently made a Swiss meringue buttercream which contains 340 grams of butter ......

These homemade baked char siu buns may not resemble to that of the Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant but I bet these minis will give a good run for their money lol 

Recipe adapted from Homemade Professional Bakery-Style Bread 2 / Charles Ho 

Mexican buns : 

Cookie butter topping :

75 grams unsalted butter , softened
28 grams caster sugar
50 grams cake flour
6 grams vegetable oil

* Beat butter and and sugar at low speed until combined . Adjust to high speed and beat until mixture is light and fluffy . Add the cake flour and mix well , add in the oil and stir with a spatula until well combined . Set aside .

Dough :

25 grams ( whisked ) egg
36 grams fresh milk
25 grams water
36 grams caster sugar
7 grams full-cream milk powder
2 grams sea salt
150 grams bread flour
3 grams instant yeast
18 grams unsalted butter , softened at room temperature

My doubled recipe : 

55 grams ( whisked ) egg
80 grams UHT fresh milk
50 grams water
45 grams caster sugar
14 grams milk powder
4 grams fine sea salt
300 grams Casarine bread flour
5 grams instant yeast
36 grams unsalted butter

Char siu filling :  Please check original recipe here

220 grams char siu , cut into small cubes
16 grams unsalted butter
35 grams shallots
20 grams oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
30 grams caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon chicken powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
100 grams water

Thickener :

Mix together 18 grams cornstarch and 40 grams water , set aside .

* Place butter and shallots into the hot pan , stir and cook over medium heat for 1 minute . Add in the oyster sauce , sesame oil , dark soy sauce , sugar , chicken powder , pepper and water . Let boil . Add in the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickens . Add in the char siu and mix well , immediately transfer mixture into a heatproof bowl , let cool completely before using . You can make this a day ahead and store in the fridge until needed . 

*  If using the bread machine : Place the egg , milk and water inside the bread machine , followed by milk powder , sugar , salt and bread flour . Make a shallow hole on top of the flour and add in the yeast . Choose the dough program , add in the butter after about 12 minutes and let the machine do the work , until the first rise .

* By hand : In a mixing bowl , whisk the flour , milk powder , sugar and salt then add in the yeast . Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture , add in the egg , milk and water . Combine ingredients until it forms a cohesive dough . Tip dough onto the clean work surface , knead for about 10-15 minutes then add in the butter . Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic or until it passes a window pane test , about 15 minutes . Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly-oiled bowl , cover with plastic wrap or tea towel . Let rise until tripled in size , about 1 hour or so , depending on the ambient temperature . Tip dough into the work surface and knead for few seconds to get rid some of the trapped air bubbles in the dough .

* Weigh dough and form into a small balls , cover with tea towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes . For the original recipe , dough is divided into 6 pieces at 50 grams each . I doubled the recipe and made 12 pieces at 40 grams each plus 2 52 grams buns . My final dough is 584 grams .

* Working with 1 piece of dough at a time , roll dough into about 3 to 3 1/2-inch diameter , the middle part should be much thicker than the sides . Place 25 or 30 grams , I mostly guesstimate , char siu filling in the middle of the dough and seal edges well . Place filled dough seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet , cover and continue with the rest .

* Let dough rise until doubled in size , about 45 to 1 hour , depending on the ambient temperature .

* Towards the end of the rising time , preheat oven to 150ºC .

* Place butter topping into the piping bag and pipe on top of each dough , the topping will be enough for 11 buns . If you want to completely cover the whole bun , which I was trying to do but didn't do a better job piping it , try to pipe the topping almost halfway over the sides .

* Adjust temperature to 180ºC and place the baking sheet at the middle rack . Bake until bread starts to turn brown ,  lower down to 150ºC and use only upper heat , overall baking time takes around 15 minutes . We have a small oven so I baked mine in 2 batches - for the 1st batch , breads are baked at 180ºC for 15 minutes . For the 2nd batch , I followed the original instructions . See the difference in the photo below .

* Serve piping hot or at room temperature . Leftovers can be stored in a plastic bag or a plastic container . Consume within 2 days .


  1. That extra cookie topping makes these classic char siu buns even more appealing.

  2. WOW a different twist to this char siu bun, at least for me because I never tried one. Must be so delicious!! I like your char siu fillings...I might try this in a siopao. Anne, would you make and post your version of siopao one day?

  3. Wow, I've never tried them but I'm sure I would love them, look yum!:)


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