Steamed Scallion Flower Bao 花卷

These flower knots, 花卷 hua juan, are a simple, but pretty variation on basic steamed buns. Layers of scallions, oil and salt add additional flavor and texture. They make a great snack or part of a traditional Shanghai meal.

Basic Bao

  • 425g flour
  • 275 ml milk
  • fresh yeast cube or 1/2 tsp active yeast + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp honey

If using a fresh yeast cube, bring ingredients all together in mixer bowl and knead with dough hook for 15 mins gradually increasing speed to med-high. Dough will naturally pull away from sides of bowl as it develops.

If using dry active yeast, proof the yeast with a little water and 1tsp sugar before adding to remaining ingredients to knead. 

Place in a sunny location in a deep bowl covered with plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Let proof 3-4 hours or until at least doubled in size.

 Dough mixed and ready for first proof

Dough mixed and ready for first proof

 Risen dough

Risen dough

Scallion Mixture

  • 3 tblsp scallions (aka green onions) chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil

Mix all the scallions, salt, sugar and oil and let macerate

Roll proofed dough into a long log and cut into 12 equal sized pieces. You can also use a scale at this point if you want to be very precise

Roll each piece into a oval shape. Then create horizontal slashes down the dough, spread the scallion mixture on top, and twist into individual knots. Place each knot on a square parchment paper and cover with tea towel

 Knots ready for proofing

Knots ready for proofing

Cocoaclaudhopper has a great video on the technique of creating these knots:

Proof completed knots for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat your bamboo steamers over boiling water. When steam rises and water is at a rolling boil, add your proofed buns on their parchment squares to the steamers one at a time, making sure they aren’t too crowded. Put lid on steamers and steam 15 mins. Turn off heat. Do not open the lid! Opening the lid immediately after steaming results in deflated buns. Allow steamers to rest with lid on for 1 minute and then remove your steamed buns.

 Steamed Hua Juan

Steamed Hua Juan

These buns taste best fresh from the steamer. However, if you have leftovers you can refrigerate them and re-steam them the next day.

Yields: 12 bao