Steamed Chinese Buns

4.75 stars

Chinese steamed buns are also known as 'mantou' or bao buns (baozi). They are smooth yet fluffy and usually eaten as they are. However, in the popular chilli crab dish, they are fried and served together to complement the dish.

Preparation 10 mins
Cooking 150 mins

Snack

Mantou, Mantao, Mantau, Steamed Bao, 馒头, Plain baozi

Malaysian, Singaporean, Cantonese, Chinese


Nutrition per Serving

52 kcal
9 g
1 g
1 g


Chinese steamed buns are best eaten when they are freshly made. Steamed buns are sometimes made with fillings such as barbecued pork, vegetables or sweet bean paste. There are many varieties in the market with different types of fillings. As for me, I love them plain. These are known as mantou. The secret to perfect steamed buns calls for the correct flour to be used. When I first attempted the recipe, I was so disappointed with the outcome as it did not turn out to be at all fluffy.

Type of mantou or bao flour

Over the months, I kept experimenting and was on the verge of giving up when finally, I succeeded in making the fluffy Chinese steamed buns just as how I imagined them to be. Using wheat flour numbered 405 bought from the local German grocer, the buns came out perfectly. Please note that low gluten flour (ca. 8 – 11% protein) must be used to make these Chinese steamed buns. If you are in Italy, wheat flour numbered 00 would be the right choice. Otherwise, look for Chinese steamed buns flour which are usually from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong or China at the Asian grocers.

How to make white Chinese buns?

You may also had noticed that the buns are slightly yellow in colour. This is due to the unbleached flour which was used. Try adding a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice to 'whiten' the dough, if you wish but it is really not necessary. Moreover, in my opinion, the vinegar or lemon juice might be too strong and spoil the original taste of the buns. For guaranteed snowy white steamed buns, look for the flour which are sold at the Asian grocers.

How to steam Chinese buns?

Of course, you may use an electric steamer to prepare these fluffy mantou. If you do not own a steamer, steam them in a wok, pan or pot with the lid on. Add enough water and allow it to boil. Just ensure that the buns are above the water level during the steaming process.

Frozen Chinese buns

If you like to make these buns in advanced, allow them to cool to room temperature after steaming. Then, freeze them. Steam the frozen buns once again for about 8 to 10 minutes before consumption. Once ready, the inside of these steamed buns should be hot and soft.


Ingredients

Servings:  
3 1⁄2 g
active dry yeast
80 ml
water
2 tbsp
wheat flour
1 1⁄2 tbsp
sugar
100 g
wheat flour
1⁄4 tsp
salt
1 tbsp
oil
1⁄2 g
baking powder

Steps to Prepare

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 1

Step 1 of 4

    • 3 1⁄2 g active dry yeast
    • 30 ml water
    • 2 tbsp wheat flour
    • 1⁄2 tbsp sugar

Mix yeast, (warm) water, wheat flour and sugar well. Allow yeast mixture to activate by allowing it to rest in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 2

Step 2 of 4

    • 100 g wheat flour
    • 50 ml water
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1⁄4 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp oil

Then, mix wheat flour, water, sugar, salt and oil to yeast mixture. Knead dough for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. Place kneaded dough in a bowl which had been oiled and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm area for 1.5 hours.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 3

Step 3 of 4

    • 1⁄2 g baking powder

Remove dough from bowl to a working area which had been dusted with flour. Flatten dough and sprinkle baking powder on the dough. Then, knead baking powder into the dough for 5 minutes.

Steamed Chinese Buns Step 4

Step 4 of 4

Shape dough into a log and cut equally into 12 pieces. Place on baking paper individually. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Steam dough for 8 minutes.

Published: September 18, 2016


10 Discussions

a year ago

lizzie

Hi there, just want to know whether you could also bake this as an alternative to steaming. Thank you

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Certainly. They will have a nice browned surface. Upload a food snap to show us the final result once you've made them.

a year ago

Stella

If i cant find hong kong flour at my place. Can i substitute that type of flour with cake flour ? Please reply to me as soon as possible.. because i want to make it early in hand before my dad's birthday. Tq.

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes, all-purpose flour or cake flour will be suitable

a year ago

Tan Lee eng

My first try. Fabulous. Easy and delicious.

8 months ago

Colleen

Hello, thank you for sharing this recipe! I was wondering how long I should knead it for if I was using a standard mixer to mix the dough instead?

8 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hi Colleen. That depends on the speed and the mixer. It usually takes about 8 minutes but it's best to check and see if the dough is smooth, as suggested in step 2. That's the only indicator you will need.

7 months ago

Ashwini Vakada

I just tried this recipe! Omg I love it 🥰

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Share a food snap!!

7 months ago

Leena

Hi there, i tried making it 2 times already and both times as soon as I take them out of the steamer, it comes out wrinkled and turns color. What can I do to change this?

7 months ago

Leena

Also, I am using fresh yeast instead of instant.. i don't have access to instant yeast at the moment. What can I do to change the recipe?

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

1/2 a block of yeast is sufficient. Wrinkly buns could be due to over-steaming (too long or too hot). The colour usually depends on the flour you use, bleached or unbleached.

7 months ago

Leena

How much is half a block in grams ? The color is white while steaming but when I lift up the lid it turns colours. I use unbleached all purpose flour from the brand robin hood.

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

21 grams. Regarding the colour of the buns, you can refer to the tips above to make white Chinese buns :)

7 months ago

Angelique Chong

Hi, I was just wondering, would the recipe change if I were using Hongkong flour? Or do I follow everything as per recipe only substituting Hongkong flour where flour is stated?

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes, just substitute directly.

7 months ago

Prescilla Palis

Hi Grace 😃 can I add on mashed sweet potato into the dough?

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

We haven't tried that with this recipe. It's definitely going to make the dough wetter. You might need to add a bit more flour. Give it a try and let us know the result.

7 months ago

Prescilla Palis

Will let you know the result, Grace 😁

7 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Haha! I'm Mira. ;) Grace will like to know the outcome too, I bet.

6 months ago

Tanya

I have been looking for a fluffy steamed buns. This recipe looks so fluffy I will try this recipe. Thanks Grace for sharing this recipe with us!

25 days ago

Calbridor Ore

Hi! Love the buns. Just wanted to ask how many grams there are per serving of this recipe, if you don't mind.

25 days ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hello Calbridor! We didn’t weigh the buns after steaming. You’ll get 12 pieces. Each bun is quite light due to its fluffiness :)

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