Thursday, 8 May 2014

Farm Animals Liu Sha Bao (Salted Egg Custard Steamed Buns)

"Mama, can you make liu sha bao?"

My kids have been requesting for steamed buns since I have been baking cakes lately and they crave for other bakes. Time to get back to my "first love encounter with baking"... steamed buns! I can't resist making these buns cute almost every time I make them. This time round, I decided to make a collection of farm animals!

Are we too cute to be eaten :P??

I decided to adapt the recipe for the salted egg custard filing from Bake for Happy Kids. I have been using another one previously that used evaporated milk and condensed milk as the base. It was yummy but some comparison would be good. As I did not want to use only a teeny bit of coconut milk from one big packet, I decided to replace it with whole milk. The bao skin recipe is same as my previous bao posts, except that I replaced water with milk to make this a truly dessert bao. I also chose to use only natural ingredients to color the bao skin.

Ingredients (makes about 9 buns): 
Salted egg custard filling
2 salted duck eggs, cooked and shelled. Use only the yolks.
40g unsalted butter, softened
30g icing sugar
20g custard powder
30g dry milk powder
3g cornflour
20ml whole milk

Bao skin
150g Hong Kong bao flour (plus extra for dusting)
28g cornflour
26g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1/6 tsp double acting baking powder dissolved in 1/2 tsp of water
1 tsp dry yeast
95g milk
10g vegetable shortening
Some extra water if necessary

1/4 tsp charcoal powder dissolved in a bit of water to make a paste
3g cocoa powder dissolved in a bit of water to make a paste
Pinches of tumeric powder with a bit of water as necessary

1. Prepare the salted egg custard. Mash egg yolks into fine crumbs. Use a wooden spoon and beat the butter and sugar until combined. Add remaining ingredients until well combined. I sieved the mixture to make the custard smoother.
2. Refrigerate the custard until firm. Scoop out 16g portions, cling wrap each ball and freeze overnight.

3. Prepare the bao skin. Mix well flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add milk and use a wooden spoon to mix well until a dough is formed. Pour the dough onto a non-stick mat or lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough comes together. About 5 minutes.
4. Gradually add the baking powder a bit at a time, taking care to stir the mixture before adding into the dough. Knead until the baking powder is absorbed into the dough. Knead in vegetable shortening gradually until it is absorbed into the dough. Continue kneading for another 15 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test. Add water/ flour during the kneading if the dough feels too dry/ wet.
5. Try to work quickly from here. Take about 30g of dough and add charcoal paste to it. Knead until the coloring is even. Take about 65g of dough and add cocoa paste to it. Knead until it is evenly brown colored. Take about 3g of black dough and add to 65g of plain dough and knead until it becomes evenly grey. Cover the balls of dough loosely with cling wrap and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes, not necessarily double in size. Punch down the balls of dough to expel the air. Take a pinch of plain dough and color it with some tumeric powder until a desired shade of yellow is reached (don't worry, you won't taste much of it).
6. Each bao is made from 30g of dough plus extra stick-ons for the animal features. LIGHTLY dust your work surface with flour and fingers so that the dough doesn't stick when you are shaping. I find that if the dough pulls off from a surface during shaping, the final effect will be baos with rough skins. I only used a bench scraper, toothpick and my fingers to shape the animal features. There is no need for fancy cutters or tools to have some playdoh fun ;). Flatten each 30g of dough with your hand/ small rolling pin, making the edges thinner than the center. Place a ball of frozen custard in the middle, wrap it up and pinch seal. Place the seal side down on a small piece of baking sheet in a steaming basket/ plate for steaming. I made 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 pigs and 3 chickens with the portion of dough that I have.

Waiting to be steamed!

7. Let he buns proof for 45 minutes. It is not necessary to cover the buns in hot and humid Singapore as condensation will form on the bao skins in no time because the fillings are frozen when wrapped. Prepare the wok/ steamer for steaming towards end of proofing time.
8. Steam for 8-9 minutes, turn off the heat and let the baos sit in there for another 5 minutes before opening the cover. Both my cows "exploded" a bit during steaming so be careful not to over-steam. Be careful not to let the water drip onto the buns when you remove the lid. Serve immediately or let it cool completely, store in an air tight container and freeze it. Re-steam for 15-20 minutes before consuming and it will be almost as good as freshly steamed.

The salted egg custard wasn't lava-like this time round, unlike the ones I used to make but still yummy when eaten hot! (Thanks Zoe for the recipe!) Maybe that's because I replaced coconut milk with cow's milk. My younger kid was just in time to enjoy some of these freshly made when he came back from school and he loved it! So nice to see a smile from the little one enjoying the food made with love :).

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Bake For Happy Kids, and My Little Favourite DIY, hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House


With love,
Phay Shing

*Update: My next attempt at liu sha bao was more sucessful as none of the baos exploded and the custard was runny. Check it out! 


  1. Play Shing, hoho...your farm animals baos look so adorable, even the liu shao bao is not lava like, I believe your kids still enjoy eating them.

    Thanks for linkup with LTU!

  2. Thanks Tze :). Yes my kids had lots of fun eating the buns! I think using coconut milk would taste better too, more fragrant, but I thought I would just give it a shot to use milk as substitute. I learn something new :)

    Thanks for hosting!

  3. Hi Phay Shing,

    Glad that you like this filling recipe but it is really a shame that they didn't liu... Yes, you can't over-steam the bao, they can explode.

    I realise that it is important to make the filling with high fat content so that the fat can melt and flow... maybe the water content of the milk cook with the custard and cornflour... hmmm... I can't really explain :p


  4. Hi Zoe,
    I will definitely try this filling recipe again but with coconut milk :). I treat each "failure" as learning opportunity. Next time know for sure what NOT to do :). Can't exactly say fail for this round because the baos are still soft fluffy and yummy, and kids really loved it. Thanks for the pointers!

  5. Thank you once again for your encouragement 向日葵葵!

  6. This is so cute! I love Liu Sha Bao but I have yet to try baking it. Shall try it soon! :D

    1. Thanks Wei Lu :). Have fun making your baos!

  7. Hi Phay,
    This animal farm liu sha pao are so so cute.