Soft and fluffy these Chinese steamed buns are filling, versatile and the best part is they are bake-free! Each bite is a bite full of the fluffy bun that turns chewy with a hint of sweetness that matches almost anything. Steamed, these bao buns or mantous are your typical bakery soft buns with a divine Asian flair.
This is my first Fall recipe on my blog and to celebrate the season I wanted to introduce you guys to some Fall recipes. As I wanted to share some of my rich Chinese cultures in conjunction with autumn, I decided to adapt my mom’s traditional oriental Asian steamed buns recipe and develop it so it fits a more Western style and palate.
Hence, you can see that steamed buns are not traditionally as plain as they are. However, I did not choose filled buns like using hoisin sauce and soy sauce to create char siu bao (Chinese bbq pork buns) or even red bean paste mantous. Instead, I wanted to enhance the light sweetness and fluffiness of these steam buns so I decided to leave them somewhat plain and instead combined pumpkin and cinnamon flavors to it — extremely apt for a Fall meal.
PUMPKIN STEAMED BUNS (MANTOU)
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What are Chinese Steamed buns (mantous) ?
Mantou (traditional Chinese: 饅頭; simplified Chinese: 馒头) is a Chinese steamed bun. The classic plain steamed mantou is soft and fluffy in texture with a lovely mild sweetness to the bread itself. It is a type of bun where they place buns (or the piece of dough the buns are made of) into a bamboo steamer to cook them. It originates from Northern China.
To make it more palatable, various steamed buns recipes have added ingredients over time. Some examples of these Asian buns that I’ve seen are wheat mantou, various types of filled mantou (bao) they may have a sweet filling or savory filling, sweet potatoes mantou, yam mantou, red yeast mantou, and of course pumpkin mantou. Besides the variation in tastes, steamed buns (mantous) also come in lots of different shapes such as the classic rectangular shape, braided shape, rose shape and pumpkin shape, etc.
The determiner of the shape of these fluffy steamed buns is one of the interesting things I learned while making them. Unlike playdough or clay dough, food dough like bao, mantou, and bread is softer in texture. Due to the yeast effect, food dough will blow up a little bit during the shaping process. As this type of dough is more sensitive to the shaping, the texture may collapse if it has been over-shaped as it won’t proof accordingly because it was interrupted during the proof time.
Hence as it was my first time making steamed buns in this shape, it was a whole new challenge for me to make this pumpkin steamed bun into an edible craft. It took me 3 batches with round after round of practice to make successful mantous in this pumpkin shape. Because the shaping of the sticky dough in the palm of your hands kept interfering with its proofing time.
Ingredients in this Steamed Buns Recipe
Here are the basic ingredients required to make this bun recipe. All wet and dry ingredients should be at room temperature. These main ingredients can be easily bought in the Asian or Chinese section of grocery stores.
- bao flour (you can also use low-protein flour / all-purpose flour), sifted
- pumpkin puree
- instant yeast
- this can be replaced with active dry yeast or fresh yeast. But I recommend using instant yeast which is what I used (Fermipan Brown) as it will save you a lot of time and it proofs faster too because this brand is more suitable for sweeter doughs.
- fine granulated sugar
- vegetable oil
- cinnamon powder (more can be added if you like a stronger cinnamon taste)
- tsp salt
- Green food coloring
Tools for this Mantou Recipe
- Shredder: to grate the pumpkin
- Microwave: to soften the shredded pumpkin, but you can use a steamer to do it, make sure to cover the bow with food wrap by not wetting the pumpkin during steaming
- Sifter: to sift the bao flour
- Stand mixer or you can do it manually as well
- Rolling Pin: To flatten the dough
- Damp cloth or damp kitchen towel: to cover the large mixing bowl to let your dough proof for 45 minutes or until it is double the size as the dough rise
- parchment paper
What is proofing?
You may have heard me mention the word proofing a few times. Well, what actually is proofing?
Proofing or proving is simply where the dough is rested to allow the yeast to ferment and produce gas bubbles which help the dough to rise properly. Most bread requires at least two proofings, but this steamed bun recipe only requires one time of proofing so it is definitely much faster than your regular bun cooking process.
For the perfect pumpkin shape, however, a second proofing is required for a small piece of dough that will form the green stem. You may have to reshape the pumpkin if necessary if the lines of the pumpkin diminish during the second proofing.
How does the steaming process work
When you are almost done creating the dough ball of mantous, you can heat up the steamer on high power until the hot water boils as you continue to shape the rest of the bao dough. When you are done, place the pumpkin steamed bun dough into the steaming hot steamer leaving about 1-inch space in between, and steam for 15 minutes at medium-high heat.
Serving and storing
The best way to eat mantous is when they are served warm. If you are more adventurous, these steamed buns from this easy mantou recipe can be filled with jams or peanut butter, or even Nutella if you prefer not to eat them plain. If you prefer more traditional fillings you can always just add char siu pork (bbq pork), red bean paste, kaya paste, or just plain butter.
For storage, you can wrap them with plastic wrap or Ziploc bag and place them in an airtight container and freeze them. When you want to eat them again, just let them defrost and pop them back into the steamer.
If you have tried this Pumpkin Steamed buns (mantou) recipe and loved it, I have more recipes in my recipe section for you to master. But if you are looking for other of my famous recipes then you can always try my Japanese Cheesecake, Matcha Cheesecake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. For those who want to indulge without guilt — Low Carb Cheesecake and Burnt Cheesecake, both are keto desserts perfect for those who are in a keto or low carb diet.
- 150 gram pau flour (you can also use low-protein flour / all-purpose flour), sifted
- 100 gram pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 3 TBsp fine granulated sugar
- 1/2 TBsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder (1/2 tsp if you like a stronger cinnamon taste)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 40 ml milk
- Green food coloring
- Wash, remove all seeds and skin from the pumpkin, grate the pumpkin to fine pieces by using a shredder. Place 100 grams of shredded pumpkin into a small bowl and cover lightly with food wrap, microwave in high power for 2 minutes.
- Further mashed the pumpkin while it is still warm. Add sugar into the warm pumpkin puree, stir and mix well until sugar is dissolved. Add instant yeast to the warm pumpkin puree. Stir and mix well.
- Sift flour and cinnamon powder and add in salt, mix well.
- Add pumpkin puree and milk into the flour, stir and mix them by using a chopstick until it forms crumbs. Add in oil and knead with hand or machine for 20 minutes or until the dough doesn’t stick to your hand. Cut out about 5 grams from the dough, set aside.
- Roll the big dough into a ball and proof it in the bowl, cover with a wet damp cloth for 45 minutes or until it is about double the original size.
- Add a tiny bit of green food coloring and some cinnamon powder into the small dough. knead until well combined and give an olive green color. Proof the small dough.
- After 45 minutes, take out the large dough, punch down by rolling it flat. Divide the dough equally into 10 small parts (around 30 grams each). Roll into balls and place them onto pieces of 2″x 2″ parchment paper.
How To Make Pumpkin Shape
- Shape the dough into a pumpkin shape by using a toothpick. Dust the toothpick with flour it if sticks on the dough.
- Cut the small green dough into 10 parts.
- Place 1 green dough on the pumpkin as the stem. Repeat for all the pumpkin dough.
- Heat up the steamer on high power until the water boils. Reshape the pumpkin if necessary if the lines of the pumpkin will be diminishing during this second proofing. Place the pumpkin mantou in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
- Mantou is best served warm.
More Details on How to make Pumpkin Mantou
- Prepare ingredients as stated above.
I used a microwave to soften the shredded pumpkin, but you can use a steamer to do it, make sure to cover the bow with food wrap by not wetting the pumpkin during steaming.
Sift flour and cinnamon powder. Add salt into it.
Cut parchment paper to about 2″ x 2″ square.
- While the pumpkin is still warm, mash it further with a fork or spoon.
Add in sugar, stir and mix well until sugar is dissolved.
Add in instant yeast and mix well.
- Add in pumpkin puree into flour, followed by milk.
Combine with a chopstick until it forms crumbs. Add in oil.
- Knead dough until well combine and the dough does not stick to your hand, it takes about 20 minutes. You can use a machine to knead for the same length of time.
Cut about 5 gram out from the dough, set aside. Roll the big pumpkin mantou dough into a ball.
Cover it with wet damp cloth to proof it for about 45 minutes.
- Add a tiny bit of green food coloring and some cinnamon powder to the small dough.
Knead it until the food color and cinnamon powder is evenly combined to give an olive green color.
Proof the small dough together with the big pumpkin mantou dough.
- After 45 minutes, the pumpkin mantou dough is about double the size (if it is not, cover it up again and leave it for another 15 minutes).
Punch down the dough by rolling it flat on the working table.
Divide the dough equally into 10 parts (about 30 grams each).
Roll them into balls and place them on the parchment paper.
- Shape the pumpkin with a toothpick by first outlining the crease lines. Dust the toothpick with flour it if sticks on the dough.
Prick along the centerline of the mantou dough to mark the hemisphere line, then prick again to mark quardro-sphere, then octa-sphere.
- Pierce the lines deeper to make obvious dent lines that resemble the look of a pumpkin.
Pierce a hole on the top.
- Cut and divide the small green dough into 10 parts, these are the stems of the pumpkin.
- Place the stem by inserting the sharp point into the pumpkin hole, pierce a few times around the joint to secure it in place.
- The finished shape of pumpkin mantou before steaming.
- Repeat the same to the rest of the dough.
When you have done around 5 of them, turn on the steamer and let the water boil while you continue to shape the rest.
By the time all the 10 pumpkins have done, the first few pumpkins (from the top center to the right) are blowing up a bit due to yeast reaction.
Pierce the dent lines a little more if necessary just before going into the steamer.
- Place the pumpkin mantou dough into the steaming hot steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
Use instant yeast that is meant for sweet dough, I used Fermipan Brown.
Get the full article at https://www.craftpassion.com/cinnamon-pumpkin-mantou-recipe/