Mix together yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/4 cup warm water.Allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Mix in 1/2 cup warm water, flour, salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vegetable oil.Knead until dough surface is smooth and elastic.Roll over in a greased bowl, and let stand until triple in size, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Punch down dough, and spread out on a floured board.Sprinkle baking powder evenly on surface, and knead for 5 minutes.Divide dough into 2 parts, and place the piece you are not working with in a covered bowl.Divide each half into 12 parts. Shape each part into a ball with smooth surface up. Put each ball on a wax paper square. Let stand covered until double, about 30 minutes.
Bring water to a boil in wok, and reduce heat to medium; the water should still be boiling.Place steam-plate on a small wire rack in the middle of the wok. Transfer as many buns on wax paper as will comfortably fit onto steam-plate leaving 1 to 2 inches between the buns.At least 2 inches space should be left between steam-plate and the wok.Cover wok with lid.Steam buns over boiling water for 15 minutes.
REMOVE LID BEFORE you turn off heat, or else water will drip back onto bun surface and produce yellowish “blisters” on bun surfaces. Continue steaming batches of buns until all are cooked.
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