Steamed buns are typically made using wheat flour and are the most served breakfast food in the north part of China where I grew up. However, I am very excited about these steamed purple yam cocoa rolls. Can you believe they are gluten-free? These gluten-free healthy, chewy, and soft purple yam cocoa rolls can now take the place of the steamed buns I liked so much.

Steamed Purple Sweet Potato and Cocoa Rolls [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum
  • 1 cup purple sweet potato purée (from approximately five small purple sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder


  1. Combine yeast, water, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture briefly and let it stand at room temperature until creamy (approximately 10 minutes). This step will allow the yeast to proof. Pour the yeast mixture into the purple yam puree. Add canola oil and xanthan gum. Mix well.
  2. Use a fine mesh strainer to sift the gluten-free flour, baking powder, and baking soda over a mixing bowl. Pour the purple yam puree mixture into the flour and mix together with a rubber spatula until no dry flour is left. Use your hand to roll the dough until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too dry to form a ball, gradually add 1 tablespoon of water at a time into the dough and roll by hand continuously. Loosely cover the mixing bowl with lid or plastic wrap. Let the bowl stand in a warm area of the room.
  3. Mix sifted cocoa powder and stevia powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. After 1-½ to 2 hours, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it on a flour dusted working surface. Dust the top of the dough with extra flour and knead the dough to form a smooth ball. Divide the dough into two equal halves.
  5. Roll out the first half into approximately a 12 × 12-inch square sheet. Sprinkle the cocoa powder mixture over the dough and then roll the dough up. Cut the dough into 2-inch pieces.
  6. Fill the steamer with warm water. Transfer the rolls into a parchment paper lined steamer and let them stand for 10 minutes. Bring the water to a boil then turn down to medium heat to obtain a gentle boil. Steam for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat and let the cooked rolls stand for five minutes before removing the steamer cover. Serve warm.


For homemade all-purpose gluten-free flour: 3/4 cup brown rice flour 3/4 cup millet flour 3/4 cup oat flour 1 cup sweet rice flour 1 cup white rice flour 1/2 cup cornstarch 1/2 cup potato starch Mix all flour well in a container or a gallon zip-lock bag. Store in freezer.


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