Caviar Buns with Crème Fraîche

I first came across caviar buns at José Andrés in Beverly Hills. Caviar buns for afternoon tea? How posh is that? After a taste, I knew I’d have to make these at home. 
For my version of Caviar Buns, I use tobiko, otherwise known as flying fish roe or poor man’s caviar. You can certainly use the thousand dollars a jar kind here, but I love how colorful (and economical) tobiko is. This fish roe is naturally colored with squid ink (black), wasabi (green), and beet (red). It even comes in yellow if you like yuzu flavor.
Steamed buns are often lined with parchment paper, but I like to use squares of nori here for an edible and tasty finish. The beachy sea flavors of nori and caviar are a perfect match for each other, and nori’s pure black color makes for a striking presentation.Inside the buns, you’ll find a velvety, tangy spot of crème fraîche. Crème fraîche is sour cream’s richer, fattier cousin, kind of like a fancy fill-in for butter. The crème provides a smooth contrast to the saltier notes found in the caviar and nori.Pair these upscale mini buns with a steamy cup of best-quality sencha or gyokuro for a luxurious finish. Whether we’re talking New Year’s or your fanciest dinner party, these soft Caviar Buns are sure to be a big hit!
Caviar Buns with Crème Fraîche

Makes 15 buns.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp SAF instant yeast

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp non-fat dry milk powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

1/2 cup lukewarm water + 1-2 Tbsp water more (if needed)

non-stick spray or oil, for coating proofing bowl

1 cup crème fraîche

2-3 nori sheets, cut into 2 1/2″ squares

1 oz. caviar

dill, for garnish


stand mixer with dough hook attachment

large bowl

plastic wrap

work surface

chef’s knife

large bamboo steamer, lined with parchment

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer

piping bag with coupler and #10 tip


1. Place all dry dough ingredients into the bowl of a large stand mixer. Start the mixer on low, then gradually add the water and oil. About 3 minutes in, the shaggy dough should come together to form a ball. If it does not, add 1-2 Tbsp of water until the dough comes together. Let the dough continue to mix on low for 10 minutes, until you get a soft and supple ball of dough.

2. Lightly spray a large bowl with non-stick spray, coating the top surface of the dough with some of the same oil. Place the dough ball in the large bowl, then cover it with plastic wrap and place it in a draft free place to rise until almost doubled in volume.

3. After the first rise, take the dough out onto a work surface. Give the dough a few light kneadings, then portion it out into 15 equal pieces using a chef’s knife. Shape each dough piece into a ball, then place it into the parchment lined bamboo steamer.

4. Place the buns at least 1″ apart in the steamer. Cover the steamer and let the buns rise for about 15 minutes, until just slightly puffy. Meanwhile, boil some water in a wok or stockpot so that the water is at least 2″ deep in the pot.

5. Steam the buns for 10 minutes over water at a full boil. After the buns have finished steaming, let them cool before using the piping tip to remove some bun dough from the bottom center of each bun. In the void created, use a piping bag filled with crème fraîche to pipe a dollop of cream in each bun.

6. Place the bun in the center of a nori square, then top the bun with caviar and a small sprig of dill. Enjoy!