Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mantou (Steamed buns)

Man, I have to admit. This was a very very epic trial that actually amazingly succeeded, thanks to the help of my dear mother and my wonderful friend Priscilla. Not only did they do the hard work of cooking and working the dough, but they also tolerated my random runs to the window so I could take the thousand food photos throughout the process.

So Priscilla (who I rarely see, as we go to different colleges) found out about my cooking craze and decided to visit and join me in the kitchen for the day. We decided to tackle wheat mantou (or Chinese steamed buns) interspersed with red and black quinoa for an added kick of health. Surprisingly, Mom got involved as well and even contributed to the rising and cooking parts of the process. She taught us one interesting trick - when rising yeasted dough, you can heat up a microwave oven, then turn it off and place the dough (wrapped in saran wrap and laid on foil) on top. The warmth of the preheated oven is just enough to give the yeast a cozy, comfy place to expel their carbon dioxide.

We got pastry and whole wheat flour and the quinoa at Whole Foods...which is actually a very distracting place for a foodie. Especially when it's as big as ours. We spent ages at the flour aisle just gawking at all the dispensers with the dozens of grains, flours, beans...oh I could go on forever. I left with a tearful farewell and promise to return!

But I soon forgot my sadness when we saw those steamed beauties peep out under the wok lid.

Afterwards, we had some extra quinoa, so Mom and I made a matcha white flour version (Priscilla had to meet a friend), which actually puffed up a lot more but wasn't as pretty. The green tea powder made interesting swirls in the dough, but I may try dissolving the powder in the milk first to make a more uniform hue throughout the mantou.

Anyway, it sure is colorful. And healthy to boot. So enjoy your mantou!

Whole wheat mantou with quinoa (adapted with modifications from Rasa Malaysia)


-2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
-1 cup of wheat pastry flour
-2 teaspoon of yeast
-2 teaspoon of baking powder
-½ cup of warm water
-¼ cup of sugar (or more if desire)
-1 ¼ cup of warm milk (more or less as needed)
-A couple handfuls of red and black quinoa, presoaked in hot water

1. Dissolve the yeast in water and sugar. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the flours.
3. Add the yeast mixture and milk; stir until combined.
4. Knead for about 3-5 minutes.
5. Wrap in saran wrap and allow to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour.
6. In a small bowl, mix the baking powder and 2 tbsp warm milk.
7. Pour the baking powder/milk mixture and knead into the dough. Add more flour until the dough is fairly controllable.
8. Flatten the dough, then roll into a log. Cut into about 6-8 pieces.
9. Lay on a steamer lined with wet paper towels (make sure they're wet or you'll regret it!)
10. Steam for about 10-15 minutes.

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