food 4 tots

Steamed sweet potato buns


Yields: 24 buns


White dough
500g Hong Kong flour (low protein flour) – sieved
250g water (lukewarm water)
125g castor sugar
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tbsp shortening

Orange dough
Use the same white dough ingredients plus 2 extra items as below:
– 200-250g orange flesh sweet potatoes
– A few pandan leaves/ screwpine leaves (washed and tied into a knob)


(A) How to make orange dough:

  1. Sweet potatoes: wash, peel skins, cut into chunks and soak in water for 10 minutes. Steam them together with pandan leaves until soft. Mash it with a fork until it has become puree. Set aside.
  2. Add sugar into 125g water. Stir to dissolve. Add in instant yeast. Let it stand until the yeast becomes creamy.
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes with some flour until well combined. Then put it into the bread machine together with the remaining flour, yeast mixture (step 2) and shortening. Let the bread machine knead until a soft and smooth dough is formed. If the dough is too dry, slowly add in the remaining 125g water but stop once the desired consistency is achieved. (It is also the first time I witnessed how amazing a bread machine can do the kneading job even though I had heard about it for many times. It is indeed a great kitchen tool to own if ones has no constraint on both budget and space.)
  4. If you don’t have bread machine, follow step 1 and 2. Then, put the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well. Add in yeast mixture (in step 2) and mashed sweet potato. Knead to form a dough. Then add in shortening and knead well until a soft and smooth dough is formed. If the dough is too dry, slowly add in the remaining 125g water and stop once the desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Cover dough with damp cloth or cling wrap. Leave aside to rise for 30 minutes, or until they have doubled its size. To test, press with a finger. The depression should not rise up.

(B) How to make white dough:

  1. Repeat the same process as per orange dough.

(C) How to make buns:

  1. Gently deflate the dough.
  2. Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface.
  3. Knead the dough into a long roll. Cut the dough into 24 slices for each colour. Let to rise for 10 minutes.
  4. Place one slice of white dough on top of one slice of orange dough and press both ends gently to seal it.
  5. Hold both ends and pull slightly. Twist the combined slices and bring both ends together to form a bun shape.
  6. Place on a piece of square grease-proof paper and arrange it on a steaming tray. Leave about 1 inch gap in between the buns.
  7. Cover the buns with damp cloth or cling. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes, or until they have doubled in sizes.
  8. Steam in a preheated steamer under high heat for 10-12 mins. Do not open the lid during the steaming process.
  9. Remove buns from steamer and cool on rack.


  1. During kneading, if the dough is too wet, add some more flour. If it is too dry, add a bit of water.
  2. The top and bottom of the sweet potatoes should be discarded.
  3. It is easier to mash the sweet potatoes when they are still hot from the steamer.
  4. You can simplify this recipe either by reducing the required amount of ingredients by half or just make the orange dough and shape into round shape buns.

pao1 Left: Add yeast in the sugar mixture; Right: The yeast becomes creamy.

pao2Left: Mix the mashed sweet potatoes with some flour until well combined. Right: A soft and smooth dough is formed.

pao3Top left: Cut the dough into equal slices and let it rise for 10 mins.
Bottom left: Place one slice of white dough on top of one slice of orange dough.
Right: Form a bun shape and place it on a piece of square grease-proof paper.
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  1. mycookinghut says:

    You know what, my mom told me a few weeks ago she made steamed sweet potato buns!! After I heard that, I wish I could just fly back and enjoy the buns! Now I have your sweet potato buns in front of me.. sooo unfair! :(hahah..
    Where can I get Hong Kong flour? πŸ™ Do you think the normal flour is suitable?
    I also need to find out where I can buy shortening…
    By the way, I have a hillarious buns-making-experience (after seeing the sausage buns you and Gertrude made).. I will share with you guys later.. LOL!!

    • food-4tots says:

      Lee Mei: I am sure your mom will make them again when you go back. She must be a great cook. Any great recipes for sharing?
      Hong Kong flour is also called superfine/ cake/ low protein flour. You can try to find it at those baking ingredients section. You will not get the soft and fluffy texture if you subsitute it with normal flour. For shortening, you can try either at supermarket or shops selling baking ingredients. Looking forward to your bun making post. πŸ˜‰

      • mycookinghut says:

        Yeah… my mom’s recipes are all in her head!! *LOL* I will think of something that she has been cooking for the family and share with you! πŸ™‚
        OK – I will check out the flour and shortening. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

        • food-4tots says:

          Lee Mei: Tks in advance!! I think all mommies’ recipes are in their heads including my mother and mother-in-law. Better start compiling them before they become history. πŸ˜‰

        • Carolyn Wilkerson says:

          You measure each ingredient next time you go home or she comes to you. We had a family recipe for a sweet chocolate sauce for breakfast over biscuits (Chocolate Gravy) and my sister did that. Measured every little bit she added. We have a better success rate than Mom did as every once in a while her recipe didn’t quite work out as well. Ours works every time because we had her take it out of her head and put it on paper for all the family. Good luck.

  2. Little Inbox says:

    Wah, got sifu to teach. Finally you pick up the skill. πŸ™‚ I never try to make pao or bread before. Wait till I build up the foundation first, hehe. As a newbie, your outcome look good!

  3. wah…. i will wack this la!! πŸ™‚

  4. Selba says:

    the buns look cute! Like the way you made them πŸ™‚

  5. Alice says:

    *clap* *clap* congrats on your success of making bao! I made those steamed bao once and end up to be too dry! Looks like this is a great recipe and tips to follow! Let you know if I have successfully make some later! πŸ˜€

    • food-4tots says:

      Alice: Tks! Tks! I only helped to shape the buns, the rest was done by my friend’s mother. Looking forward to your success story on making these paos. πŸ˜‰

  6. BT says:

    Hi LK,
    In fact, thanks for compiling my mum’s recipe for me. I have been saying that I will jot it down ONE DAY……. but I only keep on enjoying the bun without bothering to learn how to make.

    The pictures look nice and thanks for your systematic approach.


    • food-4tots says:

      BT: You are welcome!! I had a very “foodful” session that day. Besides learning all the useful tips, I also got to takeaway some of the buns. πŸ˜‰

  7. Beautiful steamed buns! The color very attractive. Thanks for sharing the recipe with step-by-step pictures. It’s very useful. Cheers!

  8. Piggy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! I tried to make my own bao before but it’s hard and also turned yellowish after steaming. I’ll try out your recipe soon!

  9. Dora says:

    Good try! These look for tempting for tea breaks. πŸ™‚

  10. I really like this pao. Everytime I go back to Penang, I will buy the “huan choo pao” which is all yellow in color. Yummy!

    • food-4tots says:

      Rasa Malaysia: Oh…it’s your favourite! Tks for informing me. I will look out for these “huan choo pao” in my next Penang trip. πŸ˜‰

  11. I am totally steamed now after staring all you love steamed food creation! joyly awesome!

  12. Chin says:

    Looks like a really fluffy buns for tea. I won’t mind the extra calories.

  13. Ah I gonna ask if my MIL know how to make this. lol If not will asked her to join me and try this recipe. ^-^

  14. Marsha says:

    The buns are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  15. perfeccttt!
    My fren is comin frm Sg tis Sat, and bought me a SGD130 Red Man breadmaker!
    He actually recom the BlueSky in Carrefour which is like SGD69 only but whn i wanted it its discontinued!
    so now i’m waitin for my Red man! *rub hands in glee*

    cant wait!!

  16. gertrude says:

    Wish I can have some of your pao for breakfast now. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe and step by step on how to make it with it.

  17. Great photos showing step by step instructions of doing the bun instead of just recipe.

  18. ck lam says:

    Just great to see this healthy bun done by you will full illustration…keep it up LK!

  19. Ching says:

    Oh, looks so beautiful! I love the colors combination.

  20. These look incredible! The color is so lovely.

  21. look so soft and pretty!! i bet it’s really taste good!!

  22. noobcook says:

    uneven meh … looks pro to me. can open bakery liao! πŸ˜‰

  23. Just figured I missed so many of your wonderful posts! My google reader didn’t update your rss feeds for some weird reason!

    • food-4tots says:

      Pigpigscorner: Hi, nice to hear from you again! Ooops.. sorry to inform you that my old feed is no longer valid. Dun mind to subscribe to my new feed again. πŸ˜‰

  24. mindy says: from m’sia.i love all ur recipe.i saw the recipe steamed sweet potato buns,may i know what is shortening in chinese.thanks

  25. Sabrina says:

    Hi I tried a couple of your recipes and my daughter and husband loved it! Am interested to try your steamed sweet potato bun recipe but the link for page 2 does not seem to be working.

    Would it be possible for me to get the recipe via email?

    Thanks heaps! Sabrina

  26. PThao says:

    I was thinking of making Paos for quite sometimes but never had enough courage to try once. I stumble upon your sweet potatoes paos a short while ago and keep coming back looking at it lovingly (I love orange color foods ;). I have to make it this weekend (I mean “try”) and hoping that it will be a success. I just wonder if you ever try or think of subtitute pumpkin for sweet potatoes.

    • food-4tots says:

      Sorry for the late reply. Tks for dropping by at my blog. I haven’t tried making this bun on my own but I think it should be alright to subsitute it with pumpkin. Otherwise, you can try this pumpkin bun recipe from this food blogger. Hope it helps.

  27. C says:

    may i know what brand and model of bread machine you are using? I’m looking to get one but dunno which brand is better. Thanks

  28. Ad says:

    Hi, am looking forward to try this out! looks great! i do not own a bread machine. would it be possible to use the normal electric mixer?

    • food-4tots says:

      Ad: Yes, it is possible provided that your electrical mixer has the dough hooks. The whisk and whip used for making cake are not meant for kneading dough. Looking forward to receiving your feedback. πŸ˜‰

  29. Good Day Food4tots
    Are u able to share recipe on basic dough for chinese steamed bun? I wud like to use dough for pork, char siew buns. I am trying to figure out how to use the dough in your steamed sweet potato bun but I had better not take the risk. I rather request from you just the basic bun dough.

    Thanks & rgds
    Priscilla Poh

  30. Thanks Food 4 tots for the recipe links.

  31. Rachel Lim says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m wanna try it out soon but I have a few questions.

    1) is there any way I can substitute shortening with something else?

    2) when I place one slice of white dough on top of one slight of orange dough, seal the sides and pull slightly, I just twist them and finally pull the top end down to meet with the bottom end? Is that correct?


  32. Claire says:

    I love this recipe but if i’m going to make only around 8 buns, what are the changes for the ingredients?
    Thanks in advance

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