If you thought the cooking in my family was only done by my mom and my brother, I'd like ya'll to meet the mantou shīfu, aka my dad. My dad and I are really into bread, and I've grown up loving his steamed breads, both plain and meat/vegetable filled (I've mentioned them before here). Since they're steamed and not baked, they don't have much of a crust save for a thin outer skin; each is mainly fluffy dough.
Soft, springy, unfilled mantou sops up sauces perfectly, and are great with meat and fish dishes as an alternative to rice or noodles; the stuffed baozi make excellent breakfasts or snacks on their own. Several weekends ago I spent an afternoon with my dad, making several batches of each.
Okay, so we made a lot.
Making baozi: rolling out the dough round, plopping filling in the middle, pinching the dough together in a series of pleats until the baozi is sealed.
Rolling and cutting out the mantou.
Meat-filled baozi, freshly steamed!
I've wanted my dad's recipe for mantou for a long time now, and so as I helped him that afternoon I took some notes. Below is just a rough sketch of my dad's recipe, as he tends to improvise most of the time, figuring out what the recipe needs more by observation and feel. He also sometimes adds in oats or cornmeal or other grains, depending on his mood and what's in the pantry, so each batch tends to have a different character. But this is the basic idea...enjoy!
*This is roughly what my dad does, and I haven't tried this recipe on my own. Consider this more reference than anything else.
1 pack active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
5 cups all-purpose wheat flour or bread flour
Stir yeast into the lukewarm water and let sit for five minutes. Add oil, salt, sugar, and egg; stir well, and then incorporate the flour. This should create a soft dough.
Knead until smooth, and then let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 3 hours depending on the room temperature.
Roll the dough out into a log with a diameter of about 2.5 inches. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 inch pieces (it should make around 20), and let rise again for at least 30 minutes.
Steam for 20-25 minutes, and then eat!
*For baozi, you can use the same recipe for dough as above. I don't have a recipe for the meat filling my dad used, but I assume anything you would use for dumplings would do.
For the full set of photos, click here.