Steamed Buns with Sugar

This is simple recipe for buns that you can make ahead and freeze, then quickly steam to reheat – served with a little warm soy milk, it’s a great quick breakfast for kids (of all ages) on cold mornings. The kids can also get involved in the making of the buns – no intricate coordination required!


  • 1 recipe yeast dough
  • brown sugar, approximately 1/2 c


  • 24 squares of wax or parchment paper, 2×2″
  • steamer: for this recipe, if you have been rigging up a steamer as I discussed in the Steamers post, you will need to add some sort of rack to the pot over the plate – if you steam the buns on a plate, the bottoms will get too soggy.


  1. Divide the dough in 1/2, keeping one half in a bowl under a damp cloth.
  2. Roll or pat the first 1/2 into a rough circle, being sure to press out any air bubbles as you go. If your dough is the right texture, you shouldn’t need to add extra flour, but it’s okay if you need to flour the counter a bit.
  3. Poke your thumbs through the middle to make a doughnut shape, then cut that on one side to achieve a cylinder. (figs. 1 & 2 below)
  4. Roll the cylinder between your hands and the counter until it is approximately 1 foot long. (fig. 3)
  5. With a bench scraper or very sharp knife, cut the cylinder into 12 sections. (fig. 4)
  6. Roll the dough pieces one at a time into a ball, then flatten each into a small circle.
  7. Place 1 tsp brown sugar (unpacked) in the center, then fold the sides of the circle up to make a triangle: your thumbs will make the bottom edge, and each hand makes a side edge. (fig. 5)
  8. Pinch the edges VERY tightly, or your filling will leak as it melts. (fig. 6)
  9. Place each roll on a square of paper and transfer to the steamer rack. (fig. 7)
  10. Repeat steps 2-9 with the second 1/2 of the dough, then stack and cover the steamer racks.
  11. Allow the buns to rise 20 m.
  12. Steam for 8-10 m. Be careful when removing the steamer cover to catch the condensation on the lid with a towel – don’t let it pour onto the buns. (fig. 8 below)

figure 1

figure 2

figure 3

figure 4

figure 5

figure 6

figure 7

figure 8

do ahead:

Unless you get up insanely early (like I do!), you won’t want to be making these for breakfast the day you plan to consume them. The buns can be steamed and either refrigerated or frozen for another day – just pop them back in the steamer to heat through – from frozen it will take about 10 minutes. I don’t recommend microwaving them, although some people swear by wrapping an individual bun in a damp cloth or paper towel and microwaving it.

nutritional data:

These figures assume 24 buns per recipe, 2 per serving. I used the numbers for white unbleached enriched all-purpose wheat flour (but the pictures above are of buns made with white whole wheat flour) and light brown sugar.

  • Total calories 157, calories from fat 6
  • Total fat 1 g, saturated fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 24 mg
  • Total carbs 34 g, dietary fiber 1 g, sugars 10 g
  • Protein 3 g

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