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How Chicago’s Oldest Chinese Bakery Makes 10,000 Bao Per Week

Chiu Quon Bakery makes 300 pounds of dough every day

At Chiu Quon Bakery, the oldest bakery in Chicago’s Chinatown (and one of the best bakeries in the city) bakers create Hong Kong-style pastries, including sesame balls, mooncakes, and their most popular item: char siu buns.

Chiu Quon co-owner Matthew Chiu says that while multiple people at the bakery know how to make the dough for the buns, only one man gets the honor, head baker Jin Zhao.

“Our char siu bao has been around for several decades,” Zhao says. “Out of everything, the most rewarding thing is making our own dough” from milk, flour, sugar, and yeast; it doesn’t use any eggs.

After the ingredients are mixed together, the dough sits in the refrigerator for an hour, going through a low-temperature fermentation. The dough then gets put into a cutting machine that separates pieces according to weight. From there, it goes back into the refrigerator until it’s ready to be stuffed with char siu pork.

The bakery serves its char siu buns daily. “On a daily basis, that’s about 300 pounds [of dough],” says Zhao. “In one day, we produce more than 2,000 buns. It’s different during weekends, it requires at least double as much.”

Watch the full video to see how Zhao and the rest of the team make pork for the buns and mooncakes.

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