Asian Sweet Bread & Mung Bean Filling

Have you been to a high-end Chinese bakery before? It goes like this: 

An attendant in uniform greets you as you walk in. There is a very subtle sweet smell. Everything is kept behind polished glass, arranged neatly on gleaming smooth shelves. You won’t find a sugar overload here; subtle is key. When they say “No Sugar Added,” it legitimately means it’s not sugary at all (fun fact!). Almost everything toes the line between being bread and cake. Everything is soft, a delightfully pale yellow, and slightly sweet. It’s cute and quaint, and it’s almost disappointing to taste buds accustomed to more in-your-face pastries.

Well today, we’re exploring a particular Chinese bakery. In my house. It’s called “Cici & Oven Bakery.” Oven is my business partner.

Asian Sweet Bread With Mung Bean Filling

The mung bean filling is optional. As an Asian, I have a ready supply of mung beans in my kitchen, but you can leave them out and it’s still all good. Also, I like the technique of using a water roux. It’s basically a water-flour mixture that gives the buns springiness and softness (and it’s very easy to make).

Taste & Texture: In true Chinese fashion, these aren’t too sweet. You’ll definitely taste the sweetness in them, but it’s nowhere near overwhelming. The texture can only be described as “soft.” Learn that word, friends. Love it. Live it. Bake it. 


For the Roux

  • 2.5 tbsp all purpose flour. Love that wheaty flavor.
  • 1/2 cup water. Aych too oh. 

For the Bread

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flourYum!
  • 2/3 cup sugarEat the other 1/3 cup. 
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeastIt’s basically Instant Messaging 2.0. 
  • 1/2 teaspoon saltOne time I mistook salt for sugar. Story for another day.
  • 1 large egg. Organic dinosaur eggs, preferably.
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk. You can make your own if you have vinegar and milk. It makes bread fluffy. Makes muffins delicate as a doily. I’ve tried; crumbled at the touch. Bad stuff.
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened. Butter = magic.

Steps You Knead To Know: 

1. Make the water roux. Mix together flour and water, heat it up gently until it coagulates into a custard-like paste. Set aside, let cool to room temperature.

Go ahead. You know you want to taste it because it looks like pudding.

2. Combine everything (including roux) into a bowl and mix. I cut to the chase on this blog, in case you haven’t noticed.

I like big messes and I cannot lie.
I like big messes and I cannot lie.

3. Knead for 15 minutes. Dear parents, I want a stand mixer. Sincerely, The Struggling Cici In The Kitchen.

Who needs dumbbells when you have dough?

4. Cover and let rise for 1.5-2 hours. The rising time is longer than most breads because the higher sugar content disrupts gluten formation, so you’re going to have to let it rise longer to compensate. More time to dance.

5. Meanwhile, make mung bean paste. It’s this recipe here. Just thicken it up by zapping it in the microwave for a couple minutes.

6. Take out the dough and shape. I like rolling the dough into a log because it helps give the dough some structure. I’ve tried just balling it up before, and it flattened out later on because it was just a glob of underdeveloped gluten.

Yes, I’m aware that mung bean paste is not the most photogenic food ever.
Mung Bean Rollups
Cup your hands underneath the log and rotate it around until it’s a little cute bun.

7. Cover and let rise another 1.5-2 hours. Patience is a virtue.

8. Brush with egg wash. It’s just an egg beaten with 2 tbsp of water. I actually don’t have a brush, so I improvised with a wet napkin. It worked!

Got some buns in the oven.

8. Bake at 325F, for about 15 minutes. Finally.

The Extra Mile:

Um, haven’t you had enough of baking for one day? Go watch Honey Boo Boo or something.




Ahhhh look at it. Look at it. Look at it. With your eyes. You’re in a Chinese bakery. 



10 Comments Add yours

  1. aryana0821 says:

    Thanks stopping by and visiting my blog 🙂

    1. Kitchen Cici says:

      Likewise! And I didn’t even have to get out of my seat. Love technology.

      1. aryana0821 says:

        Your recipes are great .Good job 🙂

  2. kittyroxx says:

    OMG – I was just perusing your blog and saw some of my favorite eats from childhood. Red bean is one of my most favorite things to consume the most gluttonous fashion – and here you are with the recipe for it AND the buns I dream about! Also died a little when I saw your recipe for scallion pancakes. My dad is chef who used to make all these delicious eats when I was a kid, but like all brilliant chefs, he is more than secretive with his recipes – even with his family. Well, suffer no longer – thanks to the internets, I got the recipes here. Thank you for sharing, I will let you know when I try them!

    P.S. If you ever want more ideas for delish Chinese eats, I have a ton cluttering space in my head 🙂

    1. Kitchen Cici says:

      Ahhhh that is so cool!!! Haha I can’t believe your dad would hide the recipes from you! I’m totally jealous that you got to enjoy chef-quality Chinese food though. And yes, please do let me know when you try this stuff!

      And I would LOVE your ideas! Haha I will gladly and greedily take a stab at all of your ideas!

      Okay. I need to calm down and stop using exclamation points. (!!!!!)

      1. Annie says:

        My dad is just weird. Can you believe that I once thought I finally got his famous Hot and Sour soup recipe from him, only when I tried it, it became obvious that he left out a few necessary ingredients? Rude! But sooo my dad. Heh.

        Oh boy, I am so excited to see what kind of goodies you can come up with that are easy to put together like your other recipes.

        Here are some ideas:

        Sesame laughing balls – like the ones here: Do you think there’s a way to make it without lard?

        [Chinese style] Egg custard tart – Next to red bean, these are my favorite treats. I will eat them as they are, but I’m also wondering if there is a way to make them without it being 6000 calories?

        Swiss Roll – There are jelly rolls that we all know of, then there’s these freaking amazing rolls that Chinese bakeries sell. The cream ones are terrific (as in, I can eat an ENTIRE roll, ha) but my very picky fiance actually likes the lemon one. The unique thing about these rolls the way the Chinese make it is that the creams, cakes and jellies are never too sweet like Western pastries.

        Mooncakes – Red bean ones are the best!

        Ma Po Tofu – This is one of my favorite things my Dad used to make but is super secretive about how to make. There are a few versions, i think, but Szechwan style is the best.

        P.S. Exclamation points are the best!

      2. Kitchen Cici says:

        Haha I’m up for all of those! Ah so many things to do! I love ma po tofu though, but I didn’t know there were different versions. Do you know what he uses in the Szechwan style? Like, Szechwan peppers or something?

        I definitely think the Swiss Roll is doable though, and the egg custard tart. The Mooncakes tempt me but they might take longer, haha. Oh man my parents are gonna have a blast with my future Chinese food adventures… I might even do laughing sesame balls tomorrow morning! Thanks for the ideas!

  3. megaciph says:

    This looks delicious, can hardly wait to make it!!

    1. Kitchen Cici says:

      For sure, let me know how it goes!

  4. Jill says:

    The bread came out good except that it doesn’t get brown. I made it the second time making sure to check the upper element is working on the oven & preheating oven for at least 30 mins…still not browning. What’s up? Any thoughts?

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