Baba’s Mantou 饅頭

Happy Birthday Baba! It’s my father-in-law’s birthday today, and I’d like to take some time today to share one of his recipes with all of you. I had the pleasure of visiting Fort Wayne, IN for Christmas, and I was delighted to help my father-in-law makes these for the big Christmas Eve gathering their church held at their home. Christmas Eve is just one example of my in-laws’ hospitality towards their community. I hear many stories of their lovely home gatherings, inviting over church friends, neighbors, as well as students from North Side High School (where my mother-in-law teaches), and I was blessed to participate in one of their parties during Christmas.

For our Christmas dinner, we doubled the recipe below and made close to 80 buns! I certainly pulled my weight in eating them up as I must have eaten at least a dozen during our time there. Thanks for sharing your recipe with me, Baba, and I hope to learn many more recipes from you!

Baba’s Mantou 饅頭
makes around 40 buns

3 tablespoons yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon shortening
1 cup red bean paste
40 – 2″ squares of cut wax paper

1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the the warm water, let stand for about 30 minutes until yeast bubbles.
2. Meanwhile, mix together flour and baking powder, and cut shortening into flour mixture.
3. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in yeast mixture, and start mixing to form a dough.
5. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth, then cover with moist paper towel and let stand for about two hour in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
6. Punch down dough and knead one more time and let stand for another 20 minutes.
7. Prepare steamer and begin to boil water.
8. Knead dough to shape into long rolls and cut across the roll to form mantou.
9. To make red bean paste filled mantou, roll one section of dough into a flat circle, put 1 tablespoon of red bean paste in the center, and pinch dough closed, forming a bun.
10. Stick one square of wax paper to the bottom of each shaped mantou and cover with damp paper towel until dough is used up.
11. Place mantou carefully in steamer, leaving enough space in between. Steam mantou for 10-12 minutes.

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