BBD#22 – Baked red bean buns

Baked red bean buns

Baked red bean buns

and this is how I like my red beans 🙂

Molecular biologists love genes, and how different gene products interact with each together to generate many of the complex biological processes that keep our body in one piece (or in the case of disease, how all of this falls apart). Why does someone behave in a particular way? It’s because of his or her genetic makeup, some say. Others say there is an equal influence from the environment, or what the individual is exposed to.

I’d like to argue that this is particularly true with first impressions. As a young child in Hong Kong, there were certain smells and sights and sounds that flooded my senses: the freshly steamed rice noodles drizzled with soy sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce and lightly toasted sesame seeds wrapped in paper from the street vendors, the dazzling array of colours from the fruit and vegetable stalls, the constant buzzing and honking from people riding bicycles, buses or taxis, and of course, the aroma of just-baked buns and loaves, wafting from the bakeries.

I’m going to paint in broad strokes and say that Hong Kong bakery-style buns are, in general, very different from those that you can find in European bakeries. True, both place an emphasis on texture and flavour and shaping, but with Hong Kong style buns you’re looking for more pillowy-soft crust and crumb, often flavoured with additional ingredients like coconut or sweet pastes or cubed ham and shaped into individual serving buns.

While I have been on a preferment/sourdough, blistering crust, multigrain kick lately (more on this in future posts), Shiao-Ping’s recent TFL post on Chinese Po-Lo Buns (Pineapple Buns, or 菠蘿飽) evoked memories of these buns that I love so dearly. Some impressions just die hard.

These baked red bean buns (焗豆沙飽) are for those who love Hong Kong bakery-style breads, and for those who sometimes complain that my loaves of bread are “too crackly and crusty.” (“How come they don’t taste softer, like cake?”)

Baked Red Bean Buns

– basic sweet dough, like this one, this one or this one
– lightly sweetened red bean paste
– egg wash: 1 large egg, lightly beaten
– sesame seeds, optional

I used the canned, ready-to-use paste but you could definitely make your own:


I divided my dough into eight portions of ~45g each, and shaped them as follows thanks to a great photo tutorial posted by hidehide here:


Add ~1 tbsp of filling:

2009.07.30Redbeanbuns04and shape away!





Now flip the little bun over to the other and smoother side. Your seam should be on the bottom. Using a bottle cap (I used the lid of my container of vegetable oil…), lightly score the top:


That way, you’ll know how far into the bun your six cuts will have to go:

Yes, this is a 29-cent pan scraper that I'm using instead of an actual dough scraper.

Yes, this is a 29-cent plastic pan scraper that I'm using instead of an actual dough scraper.


and do the same for the rest of the buns:


Proof for ~30-40 minutes, brush with egg wash, top with sesame seeds and then bake in a preheated 350F oven for 17-20 min until golden brown.


Here’s a closeup:


* * *

This is my submission for Bread Baking Day #22 – Sweet Breads.


I’m sending these to Stefanie at Hefe und mehr for hosting BBD#22, Zorra our lovely BBD founder of 1x umrühren bitte, hidehide for the great shaping instructions, and Susan at Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.

Update: the round-up has been posted!

Note: Red beans, by the way, are also known by their Japanese name, azuki beans.

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21 Responses to “BBD#22 – Baked red bean buns”

  1. Cookie Says:

    I love red bean buns from Dim Sum restaurants! I had no idea you could make them at home!

    • toxobread Says:

      Cookie: hehe I didn’t either for the longest time! With the red bean buns from dim sum restaurants, though, you’d want to steam them instead of baking them in the oven. 🙂

  2. Mimi Says:

    Wow. That’s how they get that pretty shape. Good job making these, they look scrumptious!

  3. Shiao-Ping Says:

    Dear Jackie
    I am feeling nostalgic looking at your lovely red bean buns! They are beautifully done!

  4. Leah Weinberg Says:


    these look great!
    i will have to try them out, but I dont think you can get red bean paste where I live. Do you know what I could use as a decent substitute? Thanks!

  5. Stefanie Says:

    A unsual filling for me but it sounds nevertheless fascinating. I think, as soon as my brain get adjusted to the thought of using beans in combination with sweet, I have to try it. I love new tastes!
    And the shape is so pretty!

  6. Hefe und mehr » Blog Archive » Bread Baking Day #22: Round-up Says:

    […] Baked red bean buns […]

  7. Susan/Wild Yeast Says:

    I didn’t realize you could buy canned bean paste. Scoring with the bottle cap is brilliant, and I love those hard little scrapers, good for so many odd jobs. Lovely buns as usual!

  8. Laura Says:

    Oooh. cool beans! (sorry)
    No, really, very interesting shaping technique. Could I make my own bean paste with canned adzuki beans and some sugar to taste?

  9. lisamichele Says:

    I’m n Asian bakery stalker/buyer, aand I buy bags of these! Yours are prettier than any I’ve ever bought! Love the photos, and beautifully done all around. Great idea for the BBD #22 and your tummy!

  10. toxobread Says:

    Mimi: thank you!

    Shiao-Ping: and thank *you* for making me think of these red bean buns with your lovely creations!

    Leah: Hmm, I would say any sort of paste or filling will do. For sweet breads, you could try a bit of jam (you’ll probably only need a little though depending on how sweet your jam is), or sweetened cream cheese, custard, or even a combination of nuts and chocolate. You could also make a cooked, seasoned meat filling (with cheese?) and stuff the buns with that too – just reduce the amount of sugar in the dough to maybe 1/2 – 1 tsp for the savoury buns. Good luck and happy baking!

    Stefanie: I grew up with all sorts of sweetened bean pastes and dessert soups (we call them “tong sui” in Cantonese) that it never occurred to me sweetened bean paste sounds a bit exotic. 😀

    Susan: I found the canned bean paste in the [one of two] Asian grocery stores remotely close to where I live, ha ha. Oh, and that pan scraper is the designated dough scraper for now! I haven’t yet scraped a pan with it yet.

    Laura: 😉 thanks! I was very inspired by hidehide’s page of the cutest shaped buns I’d ever seen. I haven’t tried making my own red bean paste but know for sure that you can make your own using dried azuki beans, e.g.:

    Lisa: I wish there were an Asian bakery nearby for me to stalk and take notes from 😦 Thanks for the kind compliments!

  11. sara Says:

    I have never made anything like this, very intriguing. I would like to try it sometime.

  12. meg Says:

    thanks toxobread, i made these with okra filling will post a link if i make them again wonderful site ue so talented…………..

  13. toxobread Says:

    Thanks, Meg! I’m glad they turned out well for you!

  14. Candy Says:

    I ate tons of these in japan (they were boring round shaped though) and have been missing them ever since. I’m a pretty dense baking student for not finding your recipe sooner. I’m making them soon, and I hope I get a chance to make these as a project in class to show my classmates a taste of asia!

    • toxobread Says:

      Hi Candy,
      There are no Asian-style bakeries anywhere close to where I live in Vermont, so I’ve been missing them too! It’s always fun to make your own though. I’m happy that you came across my blog and wish you the very best when you give these a shot. Hidehide’s baking page is a fantastic resource for these types of buns and the shaping methods are very creative too.
      Happy baking!

  15. Lily Says:

    Hi Jackie,
    I live in Helsinki, Finland and there’s no such bakeries that exist here–I’m originally from Toronto where there’s like 3 chinatowns!!
    Thanks for posting your recipe. I shall do my best and make these tomorrow!
    Have a lovely day! : D Cheers!

    • toxobread Says:

      Hi Lily,

      I grew up in Toronto! 😀 Good luck with the baking tomorrow – I hope the buns turn out well!
      Thanks for dropping by my blog,


  16. Cynthia Says:

    Great buns! However I wouldn’t use this method of shaping the buns again. I found that all the dough at the bottom of the bun (from joining the folds) pushed the bean paste out when the buns rose. The next time I would form a ball and put the paste inside before flattening and cutting them.

  17. toxobread Says:

    Hi Cynthia:

    Yup, that’s another way to shape buns with filling inside – that’s in fact what Mark of The Back Home Bakery does with red bean buns:

    Thanks for stopping by,


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