I’ve been meaning to try my hand at mantou (steamed wheat buns) making for a while. I saw some irresistibly cute baos at www.littlemissbento.com and wondered if an allergen-friendly version could be made.
Corey’s been eating the Tiong Bahru baos for a while now and their lotus paste baos do not contain eggs, dairy and peanuts. Some commercial mantou brands are also free of these allergens. But since we are headed to the Toy Story Carnival this week, I thought I’d make my own version for fun.
See the final product below! Corey insisted on bringing Forky mantou to school this morning. He definitely prefers this homemade version over the store-bought ones.
Super Simple Ingredients
The ingredients are REALLY simple. Just water (or plant milk), sugar, plain flour, oil and yeast. All can be found in local supermarkets. Read on for the recipe below.
Critical DOs and DON’Ts
Some online recipes state to heat up the steamer with water then switch off the fire and place mantous to proof this way. I heated up water in a pressure cooker and switched off the power when the water warmed up to replicate the same process. My mantous proofed up in roughly half an hour instead of 1 hour. The short proofing time was likely due our hot and humid atmosphere. The key here is to check often. Once the dough has grown to roughly 1.5X of original size and the dough springs back nicely when you poke it, it’s ready for steaming.
The trick to getting smooth and shiny mantou is in the kneading. Never skip this step as it is very important to get rid of the air bubbles. If a few random bubbles appear, you can use a toothpick to pop them gently.
- DON’T proof at a temperature higher than 45 degrees celcius – or you will end up with shrivelled mantous like my goats (see picture below)
- DON’T leave unattended dough uncovered – or you will end up with shrivelled mantous like my goats (see picture below)
- DON’T let your little ones handle the buns before steaming – or you will end up with disfigured mantous
- DO steam them all straight before refrigerating or freezing.
- DO make sure water from the steam does not make your buns wet. Wipe the cover often or cover with a cloth to prevent dripping if possible.
- DO eat them soonest for the best taste
Why homemade versus store-bought
These are actually way more technical to make then they look! I told a friend that these are a true labor of love to make but the look on Corey’s face makes it all worth it. Plus these do not contain preservatives so are healthier than store-bought ones. Just remember to eat them quick (3 days in the refrigerator) or freeze them and eat within 1 month.
I’m working on a video for this recipe as the kneading and proofing feel like it needs more details. Till then, have a go at making these and hit me up if you want some tips!
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