Chefs' Recipes

Spice Temple's custard buns

These buns are excellent steamed. Deep-fried? They're a revelation.

By Neil Perry
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 15 mins cooking (plus chilling, proving)
  • Makes 20 buns
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Spice Temple's custard buns
This recipe is for steamed buns, but another option is to fry them. Follow the steps, then deep-fry in vegetable oil for 1½ minutes until golden, roll in cinnamon and sugar, and serve.


  • 125 gm butter, melted
  • 125 gm caster sugar
  • 50 gm wheat starch (see note)
  • 50 gm custard powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 salted duck egg yolks (see note)
  • 200 ml coconut milk
Bun dough
  • 500 gm (3½ cups) Hong Kong flour (see note), sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp dried yeast. dissolved in 300ml tepid water


  • 1
    To make filling, combine ingredients and 150ml water in a deep bowl and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Pour into a baking dish that fits inside a steamer and steam over a saucepan of boiling water until custard is just set (40 minutes). Cool, then refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    For bun dough, combine flour and sugar in a bowl. Add yeast mixture, stir until a dough forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (10 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap and leave until doubled in size (10 minutes).
  • 3
    Knock back dough and knead until smooth (5 minutes). Divide into golf ball-sized balls, then cover with plastic wrap. Working with one ball at a time, roll out each ball to a 10cm round, place 1 tbsp custard in centre, then pleat edges upwards and pinch together to seal. Place bun on a tray lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel, and repeat with remaining dough and custard. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to prove.
  • 4
    Place buns on squares of baking paper in a large steamer and steam, in batches, over a saucepan or wok of boiling water until puffed and cooked through (12 minutes). Serve warm.


Wheat starch, salted duck eggs and Hong Kong flour (low-protein flour), is available from select Asian supermarkets. If Hong Kong flour is unavailable, substitute plain flour.