June 16, 2018

Silver Thread Buns 銀絲卷

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread
By Published: 2018-06-16
This playful and tasty bread is a great childhood favorite of mine.  When I was little we used to get to eat it only when we happened to go to Shanghai or Northern Chinese cuisine restaurants, a special treat.  These Silver Thread Buns 銀絲卷 (or Gold Thread Buns 金絲卷 if deep fried to a golden crispy brown) were a real treat for us kids, delicate fluffy strands of sweet white bread all wrapped inside a bun, a surprise every time!  It was so much fun to slowly tear into the bread and pick out the delicate threads of bread, eating them slowly, one amazing stick at a time.  There's nothing like food you can play with, amirite?  But, shucks, I gotta admit that I still secretly love to pick these buns apart now that I'm grown up.  (Shhh...don't tell!)  The only difference nowadays is that I can make these Silver Thread Buns myself and enjoy their sweet, delicate white fluffiness (and play with my food!) in the comfort of home!

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread

This recipe starts with same dough used for the basic Chinese Steamed Bun Mantou recipe. With this basic dough you can go on to easily make all kinds of Chinese breads.  Once your batch of Basic Chinese Bread dough is risen you are ready to take the special steps to make Silver Thread Buns.

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread
Brushing lard on the dough

The trick for the making of the thin threads of bread is using oil to separate the dough and make sure that it stays separated when steaming.  The traditional oil used is lard, which is an excellent choice for the extra fragrant tastiness it gives the buns.  (Make your own lard with our recipe or get high quality lard here.)  If you would like to use a substitute I would suggest organic coconut oil or sesame oil (look for a 100% pure sesame oil like this) if you don't mind a strong sesame flavor.

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread

The dough is rolled out, oiled generously, then folded.  Twice.  Then a sharp knife is used to slice the dough into thin strips.  If your knife is sticking to the dough, oil the edges.

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread

The strips of dough are then gently grasped at both ends and pulled out lengthwise, thus achieving the very thin strips, before being snuggly wrapped in the outer layer of dough.

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread
A lazy day, we made really long buns instead of 6 buns.  Worked just fine!

Wrap the dough in the outer skin, pinching the ends together and tucking all seams under.  The bread is placed on parchment paper to prevent sticking as it steams.  Also remember that the bread will expand a lot, so leave at least two inches between.  Once steamed the buns can be sliced into portions or served whole.  

These lovely Silver Thread Buns 銀絲卷 are so much fun to make and extra fun to eat.  And to serve with a traditional twist, provide a saucerful of sweetened condensed milk for dipping your bun.  Creamy sweet milky goodness on fluffy tender sweet bread...OMgosh!  Yummy in my tummy!  And there's the proof of the pudding: my little girl was over the moon with these buns and savored it slowly thread by thread, playing happily with her silver threads, as children will do, even after all these years!  

Bread, buns, chinese, recipe, rolls, silver thread, 銀絲卷, gold thread buns, 金絲卷, sweet bread

Silver Thread Buns Recipe  銀絲卷
(makes 8-10 buns, adapted from Wei-Chuan's Chinese Snacks Cookbook)
Rising time: 1 hour, 30 mins  Prep time:    Cook time:

1 portion Chinese Steamed Bun dough (recipe here)
6 tbsp lard (or sesame oil or organic coconut oil)
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk (optional)

Prepare your dough according to our Chinese Basic Bread dough recipe.  When dough has had it's first rise, becoming double or triple its original size,  punch down and divide 6 equal pieces, then divide each piece into 1/4 portion (outside dough) and 3/4 portion (inside dough).  

For each piece of outside dough: Sprinkle working surface lightly with flour, then take the 1/4 portion and roll out into a 6" by 6" square and put aside.  

For each piece of inside dough: roll out the 3/4 portion of dough into a 4" by 8" rectangle.  Brush on a generous layer of lard all over rectangle.  Fold rectangle in half to a 4" by 4" square and brush top with lard.  Fold square in half to a 4" by 2" rectangle.  Use a sharp oiled knife to slice rectangle into 1/4" strips.  Gently grab the two end of the strips and pull until 5" long. 

Set inside dough on top of outside dough.  Wrap the outside dough snuggly around the inside dough and pinch closed.  At the two ends be sure to tuck and pinch so that any seams are on the bottom of the bun.  Put wrapped buns, seam side down, on top of pieces of parchment paper cut slightly larger than the buns and place into the steamer 2" apart.  Repeat for rest of dough.  Cover steamer and let rise for 30 mins or until the dough is springy to the touch.  Steam over boiling water for 15 mins.  Serve it the traditional way with a small dish of sweetened condensed milk for dipping if you like, it's super yummilicious!  

Store covered in the fridge for a week.  If keeping longer keep in freezer.  To reheat, steam for 2 mins for buns from the fridge and 8-10 mins for buns from the freezer.

Tip:  For Golden Thread buns 金絲卷, steam the buns, then deep fry until golden brown, around 2 mins.  Drain oil on kitchen paper, slice and serve hot.

More Bodacious Breads at The Hong Kong Cookery:

cake, chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, malay cake, malaysian cake, recipe, Sponge, steamed, 馬拉糕Chinese Ma Lai Gao Steamed Sponge Cake 馬拉糕

asian, chinese, hokkaido milk bread, method, Milk Bread, recipe, roux, sandwich bread, Tangzhong, 湯種, 牛奶麵包, 麵包Milk Bread Tangzhong 湯種牛奶麵包

bake, bo lo bao, chinese bread, chinese bun, hong kong, no ammonia powder, Pineapple Bun, recipe, traditional, 傳統, 菠蘿包, 香港, 麵包Pineapple Bun 菠蘿包


  1. This is the BEST bao dough recipe I've found!! I used the coconut oil like you suggested. But I think either my outer skin was rolled too thing (even thought it was the right size) or I didn't let it rise long enough the 2nd time. Thanks for this recipe! I've wanted to make this for SO long. YUM! :)

    1. Yay! I'm so glad that your bao turned out good! I love this bread, it's so much fun to eat, isn't it? If you find the outer dough too thin, set aside a bit more dough for the outer skin next time. ~ellen

  2. Hello,

    Is AP flour a must? Can I use bread flour instead? What would happen if I used bread flour?

  3. Bread flour won't really work as this is a delicate tender bread that doesn't need that kind of gluten. ~ellen