Liam Charles’ recipe for roasted peach bao buns

Ican’t tell you how much I love bao buns: barbecue pork, sweet potatoes, tempura fish … just talking about them is making me hungry. But, hey, this is a baking column, so let’s make them sweet and fill them with a pistachio custard and top with peaches roasted in honey, vanilla and lemon thyme – sensational scenes. Enjoy!

Roast peach bao buns
Prep 30 min
Prove 1 hr 30 min
Cook 1 hr 40 min
Makes 16

For the buns
480g plain flour
25g caster sugar
½tsp ground cloves
½tsp fine sea salt
1 x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 tsp baking powder
200ml lukewarm water
100ml whole milk
30ml vegetable oil
Sesame oil, for greasing

For the peaches
6-8 large, ripe peaches, stoned and sliced
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
70g runny honey
50g dark brown sugar
1 bunch lemon thyme

For the pistachio custard
750ml milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
150g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
60g cornflour
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp pistachio paste
60g unsalted butter

To finish
50g pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

To make the buns, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, add the water and milk, and mix to a dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth. Clean and lightly oil the bowl, pop the dough back in, cover and prove for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Whack the oven to 220C (200C fan)/gas 7. Put the peaches cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with the vanilla, honey, sugar and thyme, then roast for 20-25 minutes, until softened but still holding their shape. Tip the peaches into a pan, add 100-150ml water and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and turned syrupy.

Pour the milk into a pan, add the vanilla, bring to a boil, then take off the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour, cardamom and pistachio paste.

Pour a little milk into the sugar mix, then whisk in the rest, until combined. Return the mixture to the pan and cook on a gentle heat, stirring, until thick.

Pass the custard through a sieve then add the butter and stir to melt. Cover the surface with clingfilm, cool, then chill in the fridge.

Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to knock it back. Divide into 16 and shape each piece into a ball. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll each ball into an oval. Rub a drop of sesame oil over the surface, then fold in half. Repeat until all the balls are greased and folded, then put each one on a square of baking paper, cover and prove for 30 minutes.

Set a bamboo steamer over a large pan of boiling water. Steam the buns in batches for six to seven minutes, until fluffy, firm and dry. Once steamed, split open the buns, pipe pistachio custard inside, top with peaches and their juice, some pistachios and serve.