Tips For Making Dough At Home


A couple of our dishes this week require you to cook a dough-based recipe using two different methods. The Spring onion pancakes are made using an unleavened dough and fried on the stove in a pan. The bao buns are created using a leavened (raising agent added) dough. They need to prove (rise) twice before being steamed into a soft, fluffy bread which will hold your sticky braised pork.

Tips For Making Dough At Home


If kneading dough by hand, start with a clean workspace. Take any unnecessary items off the bench to allow yourself more room.  If using a stand mix with a dough hook attachment, ensure your equipment is clean and secured on a sturdy surface.

When kneading any dough, you want to ensure all the flour is incorporated with the liquid properly. There should be no lumps, dry or crusty bits left. It should feel silky and soft. This can take 5-10 minutes to achieve and develop gluten (giving you a stronger bread structure). A sign the dough is kneaded enough is it will stop sticking to your hands and the bench.

If you aren’t using an electric dough mixer, make sure your hand kneading technique is correct. Look at some videos online, they will show which part of your hands to use, folding and pushing procedures. Dusting a little flour on the bench as needed will help the dough stop sticking.


Resting your dough is vital! If you’re making an unleavened recipe (without yeast), a minimum of 30min rest is required. Placing the dough in a bowl with a wet tea towel over the top or wrapping it in clingfilm/beeswax wrap will prevent it drying out. You can rest the dough for hours, but if you intend to use it the next day it is best to store in the fridge. Resting the dough makes it easier to roll out.

If making a yeasted (leavened) dough eg. For steamed bao, you must rest it in a covered bowl in warm place (aprox 30-40 degrees) until it’s doubled in size. This usually takes 1-2 hours. Do not wrap it in clingfilm as you want to leave room for the dough to expand. 

Dividing & Rolling

To divide the dough, use a knife or dough scraper to avoid any tearing or breaking. Think of how you’d cut a pizza into even pieces. You can use this method of wedges when dividing the dough to achieve uniform size.

When rolling the dough out into circular, pancake shapes, dust the bench and rolling pin with flour. This stops any dough gluing itself to your equipment. 

Cooking The Pancakes

First you have to make sure you grease your pan well. There should not be too much excess oil in the pan, you want just enough to ensure that the dough doesn’t stick. Frying the pancakes this way makes the surface extra crispy. Your frypan should be hot before adding the uncooked dough. It can be a fine balance adjusting the heat, this skill will improve the more you practice. Medium- high heat is the general rule.

You also want to be sure that the pancake dough forms some bubbles before attempting to flip it over. Have a peek at the underneath side, you’re aiming to see a golden crust before flipping. Use tongs or a spatula to do this. When cooked on both sides, stack the pancakes up on a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm before serving. 

Cooking The Bao

Once the dough has risen to double its size, roll it out and use your hands to rub some oil onto the surface. This will prevent the dough from sticking together later when you shape the buns. Fold over each round in half and then use a rolling pin to gently flatten the dough to form the bun shape. Place all of the shaped buns onto a large tray, cover with a tea towel, and place in a warm place for 30 minutes for the buns to rise again.

Meanwhile, prepare the steamer baskets on the stove. Steam the buns on a low-medium heat in batches until they are pillowy, soft and cooked all the way through. Do not overcook the buns as they will become sticky and soggy. Bamboo steamers are great for steaming bao buns and Asian grocers tend to stock a large variety of sizes at inexpensive prices. Any leftover cooked bao buns can be stored in zip-lock bags in the freezer. To reheat, simply steam the frozen buns for about 5 minutes to warm through completely.