Mantou (饅頭）is essentially a type of Chinese “bread” that is finished by steaming as opposed to baking. Along with bing and wheat noodles, it is eaten as the carbohydrate staple in Northern China where wheat instead of rice is grown. In Taiwan where I grew up, mantou is a common breakfast staple. Ways to eat the mantou include plain, with a cup of soymilk or using it as a “carrier” to sandwich fried egg, pork floss, breakfast hamburger meats, etc. Yum! Yum! Yum!
In Taiwan, specialized mantou shops serve an overwhelming number of choices. Options include: taro, black sesame, red bean filled, cheese filled, multigrain, purple rice, etc. The list goes on and on. People usually purchase them as a snack or to steam at home for breakfast.
Unfortunately here in Houston the mantou choices are just…bleh. Recently a good friend posted a photo of her successful mantou she made living in Istanbul, and I HAD to ask for the recipe. Since then I’ve been making 1-2 batches every week and modifying to my liking. Hooray for being able to enjoy mantous again!
Generally I like my mantou sweetened with brown sugar, so this recipe reflects that. The whole wheat flour also gives this mantou an extra “chew” texture which I love. This is not the traditional pillow soft melt-in-your-mouth mantou you will find at Taiwan breakfast shops. I honestly don’t like that pillow soft texture. First, the mantou tastes like wonder bread. Then, the mantou gets all stuck in your teeth (annoying!). However, if you enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth texture, feel free to substitute the whole wheat flour for all-purpose. My senior taste tester (my husband) prefers the no whole wheat version.
Finally, I’ve also added raisin and walnuts because I love those, but these are are completely optional. You could also add different seeds (chia, flax, sesame, flax, etc) for a heartier mantou!
Raisin Walnut Whole Wheat Mantou
- 200 ml milk (1 Cup minus 1 Tbsp)
- 2 g active dry yeast (1/2 tsp)
- 3 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 200 g all-purpose flour (1.25 Cup + 2 Tbsp)
- 85-100 g whole wheat flour
- 60 g Raisins (1/4 Cup, optional)
- 60 g Walnut halves (1/4 Cup, optional)
- 1-2 Tbsp Seeds (chia, flax, sesame, poppy, etc, optional)
- Heat milk until it is between 100-110F and place 2g of active dry yeast in*
- Measure all the ingredients in order listed and mix. I use the “dough” function on my bread machine, which is a 15 minute mixing cycle.Add walnuts + raisins in the last 3 minutes of the mixing cycle (if using bread machine)** Don’t worry if not all the add-ins are incorporated fully.
- With your hands, gently knead in unincorporated walnuts and raisins. Form dough into a ball. Allow dough to rest for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
- Flatten dough with rolling pin. Roll out dough into a rectangle (11" x 16") and 1/4" thick
- Starting from the top of the rectangle, tightly roll down the dough until it forms a log.
- Cut log into pieces about 2” wide.
- Place mantou dough in steamer lined with parchment paper about 1” apart. Allow dough to rise a second time until double in size (1-1.5 hours).
- Start heating water (from cold) in the steamer at medium-high heat. Once water starts to boil, set timer for 15 minutes and steam mantou for 15 minutes. When the 15 minute timer goes off, turn off heat and let mantou sit in steamer for another 5 minutes before opening the lid.
- Enjoy the mantou fresh out the steamer (best in my opinion!). Otherwise I recommend freezing the uneaten ones after they've cooled. To reheat, simply steam for 10 minutes to have piping hot steamed buns.