Chinese Steamed Bread–Mantou (刀切馒头)



One of the readers was asking me if I have a recipe of mantou days ago and I told her no but I promised her that I will search for one recipe real soon. I do not have. I have tried making mantou and failed rather miserably as it refuse to rise and the mantou is hard as stone.. Since then, I have not prepare mantou..


Yesterday while I was searching for the mantou recipe, I am delighted to find this recipe in Mandarin which uses only single proofing. I am amazed by the look of her mantou. I told myself that I wanted to give a try.


In fact I prepared 2 batches. For the first batch, taste is satisfactory but the texture is fluffier than the normal mantou and it did not look like the mantou that I have seen. It is rather fluffy.. Definitely not over proof and I suspected it is because of the water content of the dough. I have this doubt is because the dough that I have appeared to be much softer than the dough that I seen in her illustration.


After the photo shooting for the first batch, i have decided to prepare the second batch. Well. preparation is easy and it did not take long since it is single proofing . I have decided to reduce the water content and make it a “tougher” dough. Yes, I am happy with the results as it resembles the one that I have seen. I do not doubt the original recipe and I do know that for bread and dough related recipes, water absorption of flour used can varies significantly depending on the batches of wheat produced.. 


I love mantou for its simple taste and texture. We used to buy the frozen mantou from the supermarket. It is definitely a very healthy breakfast item that goes well with a cup of soya bean milk. In fact, when I was stationed in China, it is common that we eat couscous porridge with some mantou. It can easily satisfy hunger and the fat content were almost nil in this Chinese steamed bread.


Per Wikipedia:

Mantou, often referred to as Chinese steamed bun/bread, is a type of steamed bread or bun originating in China. They are typically eaten as a staple in northern parts of China where wheat, rather than rice, is grown. They are made with milled wheat flour,water and leavening agents. In size and texture, they range from 4 cm, soft and fluffy in the most elegant restaurants, to over 15 cm, firm and dense for the working man’s lunch.”



Recipe adapted from: 美味刀切馒头

Servings: Prepare 8 medium size mantou


  • 250 grams of pao flour or low protein flour
  • 125-135 grams of lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon of instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar

  • 8 pieces of square paper

Note that water ranges from 125 grams to 135 grams. 125 grams will yield a more compact mantou and 135 grams will yield a more fluffier mantou.





  • Mix all ingredients and knead in a standing mixer until the dough leaves the sides of the whisking bowl. You can also manual do this until the dough is smooth and not sticky. Shape the dough into a cylindrical shape of about 3-4cm diameter.


  • Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Place in on top of a piece of paper or cupcake liner. Put in the steamer tray and let it proof until 1.5 times the size. When you lift the dough, you should feel that it is light.

  • Once the dough reach 1.5 times of the size (about 30-45 minutes), transfer the steamer tray to the steamer with COLD WATER. Bring the water boil under high heat and steam for 15-20 minutes (note that the 15-20 minutes starts from cold water until the end of the steaming).



I have not much complain about this recipe. I like the fact that it is fast, since there are 40 minutes bread recipe, why not we have short cut mantou or Chinese steamed bun as well…


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  


38 thoughts on “Chinese Steamed Bread–Mantou (刀切馒头)

  1. 您好,我想请问您所说的低蛋白粉是低筋面粉?我可以用gluten-free all purpose plain flour来代替吗?还有快速酵母,可以用天然酵母来代替吗?请问比例是多少呢?

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  3. hi, kenneth goh.
    “Put in the steamer tray and let it proof until 1.5 times the size”
    i wonder it mean leave a piece of dough in the steamer tray without lid/cover or do it need cover in order to rise? sorry, my english not good. i really understand and confused…

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  8. I really mantou and want to try your receipe. Can I use cake flour?,, Do I need to add shortening? if yes, how many. Thank you so much.

  9. It’s fluffy and nice texture BUT why is it just not match with the frozen type mantau? I keep trying with different flour… Please advice

    • Home made will never be able to compare to store bought texture. Your proofing may need to reduce and in fact, I suspect no yeast is used and they purely leaven by some baking powder.. guess only.

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