Mantou is an extremely versatile dough—you can stuff it, pan-fry it, wrap it around ingredients, or just eat it plain. (Mantou are plain, soft steamed breads, whereas bao are stuffed—often made with a char siu filling or served with roast duck instead of pancakes.) Mantou make for a great snack, a quick breakfast, or an accompaniment to a large banquet meal. They have a craveable, balanced sweetness, but my favorite trait is the texture: pillowy soft, light, and fluffy.
For this recipe, which is from my restaurant, Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco, and pulled from the cookbook, we add milk and cream, which cut through the gluten, giving the mantou an even more tender crumb than the classic versions. It’s calibrated for the fluffy, low-gluten flour we source from Hong Kong that’s milled for just these types of steamed applications. You can substitute cake flour, like King Arthur’s unbleached, at home, but you may need a few spoons more of it if the dough feels too wet. —Brandon Jew
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Makes about 13
cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
tsp. instant yeast
tsp. baking powder
cups (250 g) Hong Kong flour or cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
cup whole milk, room temperature
tsp. heavy cream, room temperature