I’m more of a lotus paste filling type of gal when it comes to baos, but I can’t deny the aroma and taste of fresh custard buns when they’re sold on the dim sum carts. They’re usually pretty rich and I can’t eat more than one, but that initial bite always get me - when it’s done well.

The problem is that too many custard buns in the west fall short of what custard buns are supposed to be - super pillowy buns surrounding a creamy, rich, slightly thickened custard filling that is sweet but not too sweet, and ever so slightly salty and gritty from the mashed salty duck eggs, which they are made from.

This vegan version was better than I had imagined and I would put it up against any duck egg custard bun. The secret is chickpea flour, which not only thickens up the filling, but adds a slight savoriness and grittiness that you just don’t get by putting in custard powder.

Tips:

  1. If the filling starts to separate after the addition of oil or Earth Balance, use an electric mixer or blender to get it back to being homogenized.
  2. Make sure to knead the dough enough. You want to roll out the circles in a way where the centers are thicker so that you get more “bread” around the custard filling when you bite into it. For the bottoms, folding them like dumplings will provide a thicker layer of dough and thus bread on the bottom.
  3. Not that if you are not using bleached flour, once the baos are steamed, the colors will turn more of a creamy, off-white color.

VVegan Egg Custard Bun Filling

(Makes 3 Buns)

  • 1 tablespoon Lion’s Custard Powder
    • 1 teaspoon garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance

Bao “Mantou” Recipe

Directions

  1. Mix the custard powder, garbanzo bean flour, salt and powder sugar in a pot.
  2. Add in half of the coconut milk and mix until smooth. Add in the rest of the milk.
  3. Over medium heat, cook custard for 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened.
  4. Whisk in the Earth Balance. If mixture starts to separate use an electric mixer to combine.
  5. Spoon 1 tablespoon amounts into ice cube trays lined with plastic wrap. Freeze filling for 2-3 hours until solid.
  6. Roll out dough into circles 4 inches in diameter, leaving the center a little thicker than the edges. Place the filling in the center and seal the buns. Put buns onto a piece of square parchment and let rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Brush buns with a thin coat of water or oil. Steam on medium high heat for 12 minutes. Serve immediately.