I've always loved Chinese steamed buns in all their varieties - particularly char siu bao (barbecue pork), lotus seed paste bao and simple, plain bao (mantou). It's been a long desire of mine to make my own bao at home, and with this recipe, I finally can!
Plain mantou are great as a snack; I usually eat them paired with some steamed dumplings, which makes for a delicious lunch. In some restaurants they serve deep fried mantou with condensed milk, which is another great (if less healthy) option for eating these!
Recipe adapted from: Yi Reservation
1 tsp dry instant yeast
1/2 tsp baking powder
40g white sugar
1 tsp salt
30mL lukewarm water
200mL room temperature water
1 tbsp oil
1. Combine the yeast, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. We used our KitchenAid with the dough hook attachment.
2. Add the lukewarm water and mix, then slowly add the room temperature water while mixing. Using dry instant yeast (we use Tandaco) and this method works without having to proof the yeast.
3. Finally add the oil.
4. Let the mixer run and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour; if it's too dry, add a little more water.
5. Cover the dough with a tea towel and set it aside for 45 - 60 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
6. Punch the dough down and knead for a few more minutes.
7. Cut the dough into sections - halves if you would like larger bao or quarters for smaller bao.
8. Flour your table or work surface so the dough doesn't stick, then roll the sections of dough into rectangles.
9. Brush the dough with water.
10. Roll the dough lengthways into a log.
11. Cut the log into bao-sized pieces - they can be whatever size you like.
12. Place the dough into a steamer basket lined with baking paper. Make sure that you leave space between the bao so they have some more room to grow - let them sit under a tea towel for another 30 minutes. It's best to do this directly in the steamer basket because if you have to transfer them from place to place after they've risen, the dough can easily become misshapen.
13. Steam the dough in the steamer baskets over boiling water for 12 - 15 minutes, depending on the size of your mantou. Leave them covered in the steamer baskets for 5 minutes after they've finished steaming.
The finished buns should be nice and fluffy, and are amazing to eat while they're warm! I enjoyed mine dipped in some hoisin sauce and sweet plum sauce.