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饅頭 - Chinese steamed buns

  • 16th Jan, 2005 at 3:45 AM

Steamed buns
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Here is the recipe that my paternal grandfather taught me.


  • 16 squares parchment paper, each 7cm by 7cm in area
  • 350mL warm water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • dash salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1.5 tablespoons oil
  • 600g white bread flour


  1. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and salt in the water, and then mix in the yeast. Let it rest for a while and it should smell active.
  2. Add the oil to the mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, add the flour and scoup out a hole in the centre. Add the liquids to the hole and gradually incorporate the flour.
  4. Knead the dough until it forms into an elastic and smooth ball, which takes about 15 minutes. The dough should not stick to your hands, and be quite stretchy.
  5. Roll out the dough into a tube that's about 5cm in diameter.
  6. Slice the tube into 16 loafs. Lay each of the loafs on its cylindrical edge, not the face, on top of a square of parchment paper.
  7. Wait 20 minutes for the loaves to rise. They won't rise much, but you just want the surface of the loaves to be puffy.
  8. Arrange the loafs in one or more bamboo steamers. They will expand more on their faces, so don't put loafs face-to-face, or they will stick together.
  9. Place the bamboo steamers on top of hot boiling water. Cover, and steam over high heat for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the lid and remove the loaves to a plate, before turning off the heat. You do not want water to condense on the buns.

Makes 16 loaves. Serves 4 when eaten by themselves (and you'll want to do that when they come out of the steamer.)



( 89 comments — Leave a comment )
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19th Jan, 2005 20:49 (UTC)

You sure you didn't just leak a secret recipe to the public?
20th Jan, 2005 05:19 (UTC)
Well, I posted an incorrect version, that's now fixed.

Not only that, I don't think it's a secret at all. And why shouldn't I spread the joy of freshly steamed bread?
confusion - (Anonymous) - 18th Jan, 2007 16:06 (UTC) - Expand
Re: steam buns - sfllaw - 18th Jan, 2007 20:02 (UTC) - Expand
7th Mar, 2005 10:58 (UTC)
Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong)
Nice recipe. Do your steamed buns come out pure white? I'm trying to find out what kind of flour we should use to get the super white steamed buns that they sell commercially, like in restaurants etc. I've used all the different types of supermarket flours...and tried adding vinegar to the dough, and also adding vinegar to the water used for the steaming. But I never get super white steamed buns. The only time I got super white steamed buns was by using a vietnamese brand of flour that said on the packet 'flour for steamed buns'. The flour was dry, and I just had to add water and oil ...and that was about it. The resulting bun was amazing...same texture as commercial ones, and super white. The weird thing is that hardly anybody talks about this whiteness subject. So it's either that they don't know what to do, or they're refusing to share the secret, or they just assume that everybody knows what flour to use, or they're not making super white buns.
7th Mar, 2005 13:13 (UTC)
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong)
My buns turn out white. I use Canadian white all-purpose flour, which works very well.

I don't remember if they come out the brilliant white that restaurant buns do, but I don't particularly care for that. For the sake of appearance or texture, a lot of things are done by Chinese restaurants that I really don't want to do with my food.
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 7th Mar, 2005 21:03 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 7th Mar, 2005 23:46 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 31st May, 2006 19:13 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 16th Aug, 2006 06:39 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 23rd Mar, 2008 10:53 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 26th Aug, 2008 20:43 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 15th Apr, 2010 13:38 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Steamed bun recipe (question from kenny leong) - (Anonymous) - 5th Dec, 2009 01:34 (UTC) - Expand
11th Sep, 2006 07:43 (UTC)
steam buns
Hello, im from Vancouver, Canada. Found your site by "googling" steam buns on the net. Me and my girlfriend made your steam buns tonight, and they are DELICIOUS. Thank you for the recipe. :)
28th Jan, 2007 23:41 (UTC)
Re: steam buns
You're most welcome!
Re: steam buns - (Anonymous) - 10th Jul, 2008 05:14 (UTC) - Expand
28th Jan, 2007 04:14 (UTC)
Mongolian BBQ "biscuits" or "bread", Bao Tse, Shao Bien
I am trying to find a recipe for the pocket breads that I get when I go to the various "Mongolian BBQ" restaurants. Do you know of one?

28th Jan, 2007 23:40 (UTC)
Re: Mongolian BBQ "biscuits" or "bread", Bao Tse, Shao Bien
I'm sorry, I don't.
7th Feb, 2007 17:37 (UTC)
mojo rising...
was just wondering about the rsing.. do you only let the dough rise once.. usual bread doughs rise twice. I was thinking you should let the dough rise till doubled in size .. then cut into 16 and let rise again a little before steaming.. does that sound right??
7th Feb, 2007 21:20 (UTC)
Re: mojo rising...
I find that the second rising happens in the steamer, as the buns get warmed by the heat.

You may opt to do a second rising before cooking, although I don't know how that affects the texture. They may be softer and chewier that way, but that's not really how these buns are supposed to be.
14th Apr, 2007 12:09 (UTC)
how come we have chinese steamed bun?
i was doing project how the food communicate with everyone in China culture. I was interesting want to make one for my classmate. But i don't know the other side the story actually why is called "mantou"
12th Nov, 2007 05:12 (UTC)
Steamed buns and wholemeal or gluten free flour
Can you use other flours such as gluten free or wholemeal flour? Cheers Tina
12th Nov, 2007 09:07 (UTC)
Re: Steamed buns and wholemeal or gluten free flour
Gluten-free doesn't work very well to make bread, be they baked or steamed. I'm not sure you'll get acceptable results.

Wholemeal flour will probably work, although the texture will be quite bizarre. I would personally dislike it, but you can try to see if it fits your tastes.
9th Dec, 2007 08:25 (UTC)
chinese steamed buns questions
Hi, before I start making these delicious steamed buns, I have some few questions. Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast? If so, how long do I have to let the buns rise? How much is 350ml warm water if I was to use a measuring cup? And last, how much is 600g white flour if I'm using a measuring cup too? Thanks
9th Dec, 2007 10:22 (UTC)
Re: chinese steamed buns questions
Yes, you may substitute active dry yeast without change to this recipe.

You let the bread rise the same amount of time.

350mL is about 1½ US cups.

600g of flour doesn't convert to cups at all. You're best off measuring using a scale as flour can weigh anywhere from 100g to 150g.
22nd Dec, 2007 00:44 (UTC)
Hi! I have a question: how might I steam them if I don't have the bamboo setup?
22nd Dec, 2007 00:49 (UTC)
You can use a double boiler. Or a big pot with a steaming rack.

You really just need to improvise something that lets plenty of hot steam circulate around the bread, without immersing them in water. The advantages of bamboo steamers are that they are cheap and by stacking them you get enormous capacity.
(no subject) - macabre_grrl - 22nd Dec, 2007 00:50 (UTC) - Expand
30th Dec, 2007 15:40 (UTC)
Mantou recipe
Thanks so much for the mantou recipe. Tried it this morning and it was a hit at the breakfast table. It was neat to see the small doughs rise after the steamer.
31st Dec, 2007 04:44 (UTC)
Re: Mantou recipe
I'm glad! :)
4th Jan, 2008 23:47 (UTC)
egg custard filling

I am eager to try your recipe, but I am wondering if these tasty buns will work well with an egg custard filling...I sure hope they do!

Thanks in advance,

Creamy Egg Bun Lover
5th Jan, 2008 00:08 (UTC)
Re: egg custard filling
Yes, they should. You will, of course, have to shape the dough to accommodate whichever filling you use.
Re: egg custard filling - (Anonymous) - 6th Jan, 2008 18:58 (UTC) - Expand
11th Jan, 2008 21:32 (UTC)
I saw your site and I was curious if you can help me looking for one recipe. It call sweet coconut cream bun, or sweet butter cream bun.(it sweet bun with butter cream in the middle and coconut sprinkle everywhere). If you do have the recipe for that can you please send post it up.I been looking for the recipes for so long. thank you
11th Jan, 2008 21:57 (UTC)
Re: hi
Oh, you’re talking about a cocktail bun.

That’s distinctly different from this recipe and I’ve yet to bake those yet. If you Google for “cocktail bun recipe”, you will probably find something that will work.

Good luck!
17th Feb, 2008 16:24 (UTC)
Steam Bun Question!!
i was wondering what is bleached flour would the outcome of the buns still be the same if i used self raising flour???

ASAP Please....
1st Apr, 2008 06:00 (UTC)
Re: Steam Bun Question!!
You don't need bleached flour, but self-raising gets its action from chemical leavening agents. It won't do a very good job with this bread, I'm afraid.
(Deleted comment)
1st Apr, 2008 06:00 (UTC)
Sweet! Considering how awesome those buns were at Momofuku, I find this high praise.
25th Feb, 2008 12:36 (UTC)
sweet cream buns
hi! we've been eating these steamed buns filled with a golden yellow custrad filling whenever we visit hong kong. would you happen to have a recipe of the golden yellow custard/ creamy filling?

i believe that the HK style of this filling is not just any sweet custard. on close examination, it had tiny bits of mashed preserved egg yolk! the small bits were indeed salty but provided contrast to the sweet custard.
1st Apr, 2008 06:01 (UTC)
Re: sweet cream buns
No, I'm afraid that I don't know how to make that custard. If I had to hazard a guess, it'd be made from English custard powder, eggs, milk, and flour.
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( 89 comments — Leave a comment )