Updated: Feb 29, 2020
This is an improved and updated recipe.
I find that I couldn't get the plain white color as the commercial baos or mantou. In the end, after some research, I decided to go with cake flour instead of unbleached bread flour. I also replace butter with just canola oil.
Below is a post from 8th August 2015. This recipe features basic mantou or Chinese steamed buns dough. In some Asian dishes, the mantou is deep-fried. It probably adds crisper and texture to the mantou, it is also usually served with Singapore Chili Crab.
To be honest, I actually prefer the deep-fried mantou than the regular steamed ones. Everything tastes better when deep-fried.
Aren't the swirls lovely? I personally feel that these mantous, whether steamed or deep-fried is very underrated and underused. I mean they should be used more for burgers. Don't you agree? You can also use this dough for turnover bao. Divide the dough into half, roll into a rectangle with a 1/4 inch thickness, use a 4-inch cookie cutter to create as many discs as possible, fold into a half-moon and voila.
(Make 8 buns)
Canola Oil, 60g
Whole Milk, 1 Cup
Granulated Sugar, 2 TBSP
Active Instant Dry Yeast, 2 TSP
Cake Flour, 400g
Sea Salt, 1 TSP
Baking Powder, 1 TSP
Baking Soda, 1 TSP
Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, For Greasing / Frying
Wire Cooling Rack
4 Inch Round Cookie Cutter
In a bowl, add oil, milk, sugar and yeast.
Stir to combine well or until the sugar and yeast have dissolved.
Set aside for 5 mins.
In another large bowl, add flour, salt, baking powder and soda.
Create a well in the middle and gradually pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture while still stirring with a spatula.
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 14 to 16 mins.
The dough should be soft, smooth and it should pass the "window-pane" test.
If the dough is too dry, add in milk, 1 TBSP at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add in flour, 1 TBSP at a time.
Form the dough into a ball.
Cover with cling film and let the dough ferment in the fridge overnight.
The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature before shaping, at least 2 hrs.
There are 2 methods to form into buns; swirl and ball.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured working surface, into a rectangle.
Start from the middle of the dough and roll to the edges.
You should have about 18" by 10" rectangle.
Brush some water onto the dough. This will allow for better sealing.
Starting from the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log.
Tuck the dough tightly as you roll.
Once a log shape is formed, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces with a sharp knife.
If you desire smaller mantou, you can divide into 12 equal pieces.
Ball bao method:
Divide the dough ball into 8 equal pieces with a weighing scale, depending on the size you desire.
Form each into dough balls.
Turnover bao method.
Divide the dough into half.
Roll the dough out on a working surface into a rectangle with a thickness of 1/4 inch.
Using a cookie cutter to create as many discs as possible.
Fold the discs into halves.
Use a rolling pin to lightly roll the bao.
This is to ensure that the bao is properly sealed.
*It is not a good idea to re-roll the scrap dough into turnover bao. You can use the scrap to make mantou shapes, swirl or ball.*
Cut parchment paper into 8 squares.
Lightly grease with oil.
Sit the mantou on the greased parchment paper.
Repeat the process for the remaining dough.
Cover the shaped mantou with a lint-free kitchen towel and let rise for 30 mins to 1 hr or until doubled in size.
Prepare a steamer.
Wrap cling film or kitchen tower covering the entire lid of the steamer.
*This will prevent any water vapor from dripping onto the mantou or bao.
As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, place in the mantou or bao and steam for 11 mins.
Turn off the heat and tilt your steamer cover to allow hot steam to escape for 2 mins.
Transfer the mantou onto a wire cooling rack.
Slice and serve.
Fried the mantou:
Add oil into a dutch oven, about 2 inches in depth, over medium heat.
*To check if the temperature of the oil is ready, place a wooden chopstick into the oil.
If bubbles start to form, the temperature is ready for frying.*
Gently drop the rolled mantou into the oil away from you.
Deep fry until golden brown on all sides.
Remove from heat and drain off excess oil in a wire cooling rack or a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Repeat the steps for the remaining rolled mantou.
Slice and serve.