Sourdough Cha Siu Bao 叉燒麵包

Sourdough Cha Siu Bao 叉燒麵包

My first time making buns and also first time making filled buns. Most Asian people will have fond memories of these types of buns from their childhood, I certainly do.  I still crave these on a regular basis but seldom get to Chinatown to have one.  I decided that I would do a mashup and adapt two recipes, one for a Tangzhong bun and the other for the bbq pork filling and combine them to make these.  I wasn’t able to find a decent sourdough cha siu bao recipe.

I decided to use Maurizio’s soft sourdough rolls recipe and the Omnivores cookbook bbq pork filling recipe and general formula.  However, I will say that following the baking proceedure from the Omnivore website led me astray.  Their baking temperature was 350ºF and was a brief 12-15 mins.  At twenty minutes they were far from done so I had to extend the baking for probably close to 40 mins.  Next time I would bake as I have written below.


Overnight sweet levain build  76ºF 12 hours to peak.  This was way too long, the levain was way past peak at this time.  I assume that Maurizio found that his levain was slow to ferment because of the sugar, I would change the ratio to do an overnight in the future.


Take butter out of fridge before bed.


Prepare Tangzhong first step next morning and allow to cool.

Mix room temperature butter 69 g with 69 g AP flour.  Set aside.  This makes incorporating the butter much quicker.


Mix in a mixer until well developed gluten

131 g water

All Levain

54 g Bread flour 

Use 223 g AP flour (69 g of flour used to mix with butter) so total AP flour as in chart 

All Tangzhong

8 g salt

28 g sugar 


Then add butter AP flour mix until dough nice and strong.


At 76ºF bulk ferment the dough until almost doubled in size about 3.5 hours, dough should be smooth and puffy.  Do 3 sets of coil folds at 30 mins intervals.


Will be chilling the dough at the end of bulk to make it easier to shape.

Make the Filling 


Filling Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 clove garlic , grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 heaping cup (180 g / 6.5 oz) homemade char siu , diced (or store-bought char siu) 1.5 cups is better 


  • Sesame seeds (optional)
  • Egg wash



  • While the dough is resting, combine all the filling ingredients in a small pot except for the diced char siu. Mix until the cornstarch is dissolved fully.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, so you can draw a line on the bottom of the pot with a spatula, about 1 minute. Take the pot off the heat and let the mixture cool off. Once cooled, add the diced char siu and mix until it is evenly distributed.

Place dough in fridge for 15 mins chill to allow easier divide and shape after bulk fermentation is complete.  The longer it is chilled the longer it will take to come back up to temperature to complete final proof.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces rolling each into tight ball, cover with a towel until used.



Shape the buns

  • One piece at a time, pull and pinch the edges of the dough to the top until the dough is round. Flip the piece so that the pinched part of the dough is on the work surface. Place your palm and fingers over the ball forming a domed cage, move the dough in small circular motions while applying light pressure to seal it.
  • Once all the pieces are formed, you can begin filling them. One at a time, use your palm to flatten the ball, then gently spread the edges until the dough has a 4 to 5” (10 to 13 cm) diameter. You should keep the center a bit thicker than the edges so the buns will be shaped evenly once wrapped.
  • Place a tablespoon of filling in the center. Gather the edges over the filling and pinch them together to seal it on top. Flip over the bun and roll it in the same circular motion as before to seal, but be gentle so the filling doesn’t tear through the dough. (If a piece of pork starts to poke out or looks like it’s about to you can pinch the dough over the trouble area and smooth it out with your finger.)
  • Place the buns on a parchment-lined baking tray, at least 1” (2.5 cm) apart, and cover them with plastic wrap or in a plastic bag. Let the buns rise until they’re fully proofed, judge proof by finger poke test.   At 72-74ºF 2.5 hours to fully proof longer if dough was cold retarded.


Prepare egg wash 

Beat one egg with a bit of milk.



  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  • Gently brush a thin layer of egg wash onto the top of each bun. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds to garnish, if using.
  • Bake for 20 minutes rotating halfway through.  Then decrease the temperature to 350ºF and bake until rich brown colour.
  • Let the buns rest until slightly cooled. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store and reheat


  • Once the buns have fully cooled, you can place them in a large ziplock bag. It’s OK to leave the buns at room temperature for a day. Store them in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat the refrigerated buns, heat them in a microwave or a 350°F (176°C) oven until warmed throughout. For frozen buns, reheat them in a 350°F (176°C) oven without thawing until warmed throughout, 10 minutes or so.