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Make Bao Dough: In a large mixing bowl, add 500g all-purpose flour, 2 tsp (8g) baking powder, 5g fine salt or table salt, and 25g granulated sugar. Mix them very well. Add in 6.25g instant yeast, and make sure to mix them very well. Push all the flour mixture to the side by creating a well in the middle. Gradually pour 250ml (108°F/42°C) lukewarm water and 2½ tbsp (37.5g) vegetable oil into the well, then mix the flour mixture until blended to form a relatively dry dough. *Note: The dough shouldn't stick to the hand too much once it's fully mixed. *Pro Tips: Make sure all the flour is mixed in. Depending on your flour, you may need another tablespoon (15ml) of lukewarm water. However, be careful not to add too much additional water. The dough should not feel sticky. Form a large ball with the dough. *Pro Tip: If the dough is a bit hard to knead, cover the dough and let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes. If the dough is soft enough to knead, proceed to step 2.
Knead & Rise Bao Dough: Knead the bao dough for 8 - 11 minutes until the dough is relatively smooth. *Pro Tip: You can use a stand mixer to knead the dough. It should take roughly 6 - 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball shape, then place it back into the original large mixing bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel or food wrap.Place the mixing bowl in a warmer part of your kitchen, then allow the dough to rise for roughly 45 minutes - 1 hour.
Make Bao Fillings: Finely slice the green onions. Use a microplane grater to grate the garlic and ginger directly into the mixing bowl.a) Pork Buns Filling: In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1lb (454g) ground pork, 1 (60g) large egg, 3 grated garlic cloves, 2 tsp (14g) grated ginger, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tsp (5ml) dark soy sauce (optional), 1 tsp (6g) oyster sauce, ⅛ tsp (0.2g) five spice powder, ⅛ tsp (0.3g) ground white pepper, and ½ tsp (3g) table salt.b) Beef Buns Filling: In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1lb (454g) ground beef, 1 (60g) large egg, 2 grated garlic cloves, 1 tsp (7g) grated ginger, 1 tbsp (15ml) regular soy sauce, 1 tsp (5ml) dark soy sauce (optional), 1 tsp (6g) oyster sauce, ⅛ tsp (0.2g) five spice powder, ⅛ tsp (0.3g) ground white pepper, ½ tsp (3g) table salt, and ½ tsp (1.8g) ground cumin powder.When the filling ingredients are well mixed, mix in ½ cup (125ml) cold water one third at a time (around 42ml each time). *Pro Tip: Let the filling fully absorb the water before adding in more water. Add the finely sliced green onions and 2 tbsp (10ml) roasted sesame oil to the filling mixture, then mix well. Cover the filling mixture with food wrap, then place it in the fridge.
Make Dough Balls: Your dough should be almost double in size now. Stick your finger into your dough and it shouldn't bounce back that much. Place your dough on a clean surface. Deflate the dough by pressing on it. Fold the dough a few times, then divide it into 16 equal pieces. Each piece should weigh around 50g. Form each small dough into a ball shape. Place the 16 dough balls on a plate, then cover them with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
Roll Bao Dough: Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. With the lower part of your palm, flatten the dough into a circular shape by pressing down on the dough ball. Roll the flattened dough 2 - 3 times with a rolling pin. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll the dough for another 2 - 3 times. *Note: The dough should look like a circle at this point. 2 Methods to Roll Bao Dough: Roll the edges of each dough so the center is thick while the edges are thin. Method 1: Use your rolling pin with an outward rolling motion to flatten all the edges to thin them out. Method 2: Rotate the dough with one hand while using the rolling pin to thin out the edges. *Note: Each round dough should be roughly 5" in diameter. Dust both sides of dough with flour to prevent them from sticking onto one another. Place the flattened bao dough on a plate, then cover it with a damp towel.
Add Filling to Bao Dough: Take out the meat filling from the fridge. Place a round dough on your left hand. With a spoon, place 34g - 36g meat filling in the center of the round dough. Flatten out the filling a little.
Wrap Bao: Your right thumb should be on top of the round dough and your index finger should be on the outside. Use your right index finger to fold and pinch the edges against your right thumb. Rotate the dough as you fold the edges. Make sure to keep the filling inside the dough with your left thumb. *Note: You can also use the left thumb to help with the folding. Close the hole on top by using the same folding method.
Rest Bao: Place the assembled steamed buns into a steamer basket with parchment paper at the bottom. Let the steamed buns rest for 30 minutes before cooking. *Note: If you're not cooking the bao immediately, place them in the fridge.
Cook Bao in Instant Pot: Method 1 (Small Batch): 8" bamboo steamers will fit in a 6 quarts Instant Pot. Add 1 cup (250 ml) of cold water and a trivet in Instant Pot. Place the steamer basket on the trivet. Close the steamer basket lid if you're using a bamboo steamer. Close the Instant Pot lid, then turn Venting Knob to the Sealing position. Pressure cook at High Pressure for 4 minutes, then Natural Release for 10 minutes. Open the lid carefully. Method 2 (Big Batch): Stack the bamboo steamers into tiers, then batch cook them and freeze for later. For 6 quarts Instant Pot: use 10" bamboo steamers. For 8 quarts Instant Pot: use 10" or 12" bamboo steamers. Fill Instant Pot's inner pot with 2 cups (500ml) of water. Bring the 2 cups of water to a rapid boil with the "Saute High" function or "Steam" button. Carefully stack the bamboo steamers on top of the inner pot. Make sure the bamboo steamer's lid is closed properly. Steam the bao for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Serve Steamed Buns: Your Instant Pot steamed buns are ready! Serve the piping hot Instant Pot Bao with some tea on the side. :D