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I am making roasted duck bao for a dinner tomorrow night.

I will form them all tonight and then refrigerate them until tomorrow. Is it best to steam bao before refrigerating and then steam again before dinner or just wait to steam tomorrow? Will they still have the slightly cakey, slightly chewy consistency of good bao dough? Or will they come out hard and gummy?

EDIT! The recipe I use does call for yeast which I happily use. I have tried two methods now: retarded rise (refrigerator method) and double steam. I am much happier with the freshness of making the bun right before eating. Double steam works best for keeping longer, but nothing beats making it right before eating. If you have the time and room, try the retarded rise.

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@Jay - thank you for your help! Your refrigerator dough saved me. – Aliya Mar 24 '14 at 16:49
up vote 3 down vote accepted

As Jefromi mentioned in the comments, what you do is highly dependent on the recipe for the Bao you are making. Traditionally Bao is made with yeast but if your recipe includes baking powder as the main leavener, then you would need to steam the Bao as your recipe indicates. Otherwise the leavening will expend itself and you will get tough Bao.

If the Bao recipe you are using have yeast as the main leavening agent, then you can do either.

If you want to steam it the next day then you can leave the dough in the refrigerator to rise the first time overnight. You might want to decrease the amount of yeast used in your recipe in this case. The next day, take the dough out 2 hours before you want to steam it and let the dough sit for about 1 hr to get to room temperature. Then cut and form the dough into the Bao shapes and let it rise for another 45 minutes at room temperature. Then you can steam it.

Resteaming Bao is not an issue if thats the route you want to go. A lot of places that sell Bao actually premakes it, steams it and then refrigerates the Bao. Then it is resteamed when it is needed. You can even freeze the Bao if you make a particularly large batch. The quality of the Bao won't degrade too much as long as you resteam the Bao.

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I haven't made any Bao myself before, but I have bought Baos from supermarket and shops. I know shops steam their Baos before they go on sale and I think it makes lots of senses.

Firstly, if you refrigerate the Baos before steaming them, the Boa dough would get dehydrated and become rock hard. Your Baos will crack when you steam them afterward.

Secondly, it's fairly common for Boas to be reheated by re-steaming. The re-heat process will still retain the softness and slightly chewy texture of the Baos.

One advice I have is to make sure you cool down the Baos after the you first cook them before refrigeration. If you don't cool them down, the Baos will become too wet and the re-heat will make too soft.

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If you cover dough when you refrigerate it, it doesn't dry out or become rock hard. The real problem is presumably leavening expending itself - the recipes I found just now all had baking powder in them. – Jefromi Mar 31 '13 at 2:00
Agreed with the part about expanding itself – Foodrules Mar 31 '13 at 2:15
I've refrigerated bread dough covered with plastic wrap for a few days; it didn't dry out and the bread actually came out delicious. – Kareen Mar 31 '13 at 4:44
I just want to note that traditionally, bao is made with yeast and not baking powder. – Jay Mar 31 '13 at 6:49
@Jay Ah! In that case, there's no longer a good reason in this answer not to refrigerate before steaming. Thanks for posting another answer! – Jefromi Apr 1 '13 at 1:59

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