Volitas Pork Buns

About This Recipe


Bao are Chinese steamed buns with a wide variety of fillings, both savoury and sweet. In Samoa, bao are always filled with meat, usually pork, which is why they are called keke (cake), pua’a (pork).

Yeah, I know it’s not a cake!  Anyhoo, it's not common to make keke pua’a at home, because they are labour-intensive, and they’re relatively cheap to buy.  Plus, not many of us have a three tiered bamboo steamer at home.


Recipe Details


  • Servings: Approx. 16

  • Preparation: 45 mins

  • Cook time: 15 mins



For The Dough

  • 2 Tablespoons dry yeast

  • ¼ cup (60ml) warm water

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • ½ cup (120ml) warm milk

  • ¼ cup melted butter

  • ¼ cup (50g) sugar

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 3½ cups (437.5g) all-purpose flour

For The Filling
  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Soy sauce

  • Any meat you want



For The Dough

  • The usual Samoan filling is a basic mixture of pork, onions, maybe garlic and then seasonings like soy sauce.  But you could fill your keke with practically anything, leftover sapasui, curry, beef stew - anything you would eat between two slices of bread.

  • Whatever you decide to put in your buns, make sure your filling is really well seasoned, a touch over-seasoned, so that one bite of it has enough flavour to carry the soft but bland bread.

To Make The Dough

  • Mix the yeast, water and first measure of sugar in a large bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes until it’s frothy.

  • In the meantime, combine the milk, butter, second lot of sugar, salt and eggs. Add this to the yeast mixture and mix until combined.

  • Add 3 cups of the flour and gradually mix it together until it forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth, about 10 minutes, working in the remaining ½ cup of flour.

  • Grease the bowl, place the dough back in there, cover and let it rise until its doubled in size

  • While the dough is rising, cut out 16 4” (10cm) square pieces of waxed paper. Set up your steamer. Get your keke filling to room temperature. Anything else? Yeah, while you’re at it, do the dishes.

  • When your dough has doubled, punch it down then divide into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll or press into a 4-inch (10cm) circle, dusting with flour if necessary.

  • Spoon a generous amount of filling into the centre of each circle, being careful not to get liquid on the edges. (Wet edges are hard to seal.)

  • Pleat the edges together over the filling and close the top by pinching and twisting the dough together.

  • Place each bun on a piece of waxed paper, pleated side up if you’re proud of your pleats, or pleated side down if you screwed it up prefer a smooth top surface.

  • Put your buns at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart from each other to rise.

  • Let them rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes) and then steam them on full steam for 15 minutes.

A great, delicious recipe if you fancy a challenge