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How To Make Bao / Turnover Bao / Mantou

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

I actually made this recipe some years ago. As one of my goals for 2021 is to revamp some of my old recipes; kinda to breathe life into them again. This is one of those recipes and many more to come your way.

I do not like to brag, but this is a pretty versatile dough. You can use this dough to make bao, turnover bao sandwiches, or swirl the dough to make mantou. Hell, you can even deep fried the mantou.

I am using a mixture of flour to build more structure for the dough. The end result is a fluffy, soft and chewy bao. I will be creating more recipes with this bao technique in the future, please stay tuned. In the meantime, let's get started.



(Make 8 bao)

  • Canola Oil, 60g + More For Greasing

  • Whole Milk, 240g

  • Granulated Sugar, 25g

  • Active Instant Dry Yeast, 2 TSP

  • Cake Flour, 240g

  • Unbleached All Purpose Flour, 240g

  • Sea Salt, 6g

  • Baking Powder, 1 TSP

  • Baking Soda, 1 TSP

  • Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, For Greasing / Frying



  • Steamer

  • Dutch Oven

  • 3.5" Round Cookie Cutter



  1. Preparing the dough.

  2. In a bowl, add oil, milk, sugar and yeast.

  3. Stir to combine well or until the sugar and yeast have dissolved.

  4. Set aside for 5 mins.

  5. In another large bowl, add flour, salt, baking powder and soda.

  6. Create a well in the middle and gradually pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture while still stirring with a spatula.

  7. Once it comes together as a dough, knead the dough inside the bowl until all the nooks and crannies of flour are kneaded into the dough, about 5 to 8 mins.

  8. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface and continue kneading for 5 to 8 mins.

  9. The dough should be soft, smooth and it should pass the "window-pane" test.

  10. If the dough is too dry, add in milk, 1 TBSP at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add in cake flour, 1 TBSP at a time.

  11. Form the dough into a ball.

  12. Transfer onto a lightly greased bowl.

  13. Cover with cling film and set aside to rise for 90 mins or until doubled in size.

  14. After 90 mins, fold the corners to the center, flip and shape into a ball. This is to deflate the dough to sorta make sure that the yeast is probably activated.

  15. Cover and ferment the dough in the fridge overnight.

  16. You can freeze the dough at this point. You can keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge the day before using.

  17. The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature before shaping, at least 2 hrs.

  18. There are 3 methods to form into buns; ball, turnover and swirl.

  19. Ball bao method:

  20. Divide the dough ball into 8 equal pieces with a weighing scale, depending on the size you desire.

  21. Form each into dough balls.

  22. Turnover bao method.

  23. Divide the dough into 2.

  24. Roll the dough out on a working surface into a rectangle with a thickness of 1/4".

  25. Using a cookie cutter to create as many discs as possible.

  26. Fold the discs into halves.

  27. *It is not a good idea to re-roll the scrap dough into turnover bao. You can use the scraps to shape into ball bao.*

  28. Swirl method:

  29. Divide the dough equally into 2.

  30. Roll the dough on a lightly floured working surface, into a rectangle, about 1/4" thick.

  31. Starting from the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log.

  32. Tuck the dough tightly as you roll.

  33. Once a log shape is formed, slice the dough into 1" thick pieces. You can slice 2" thick pieces if desired.

  34. Proofing and steaming.

  35. I usually cut parchment paper into a large circle to fit my steamer's tray and lightly grease it with oil. You can prepare an individual paper for each bao.

  36. Place the bao onto the greased parchment paper and cover the bao with a lint-free kitchen towel.

  37. Proof for 1 hr or until doubled in size.

  38. Prepare a steamer.

  39. Wrap the entire lid of the steamer with a kitchen towel.

  40. *This will prevent any water vapor from dripping onto the mantou or bao.*

  41. As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, steam the bao for 11 mins.

  42. Turn off the heat and tilt your steamer cover to allow hot steam to escape for 2 mins.

  43. Remove from heat, slice and serve.

  44. Fried the mantou:

  45. You can also deep fried the swirl bao aka mantou.

  46. Add oil into a dutch oven, about 2 inches in depth, over medium high heat.

  47. *To check if the temperature of the oil is ready, place a wooden chopstick into the oil.

  48. If bubbles start to form, the temperature is ready for frying.*

  49. Gently drop the swirled bao into the oil away from you.

  50. Deep fry until golden brown on all sides.

  51. Remove from heat and drain off excess oil on a wire cooling rack or a plate lined with kitchen paper.

  52. Repeat the steps for the remaining swirled bao.

  53. Slice, sandwich with your favoite ingredients and serve.

The classic ball method...

The turnover method...

The swirl mantou method...

The deep fried mantou method...


Recipe Video:

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