Fluffy Soft Steam Buns & Chocolate Swirl Mantou (??????????? )

I have been looking for the perfect steam bun / bao recipe for a long time now. And it almost seems like most of the recipe turns out the same. Soft when just steamed but not so a few hours after it cooled down and needs to be reheated to get the same soft texture. Ohh...but it's not so for this new recipe. :) It stays fluffy soft for a good whole day or longer. Really! But you know what, I discovered this recipe through trial and error.....lucky me right? Lol!

This recipe is adapted from Carol ????'s ???. Initially, I had the full intention to use her recipe, but in the midst of multi-tasking in the kitchen, I added 74g of unsalted butter into the dough (by accident) and it was all good there after, lol! Trust me, it still turns out wonderful. :) You must be thinking, who uses butter for steam buns? Aren't you suppose to use shortening or something? You're right...but the butter scent wasn't evident at all, besides I would choose butter over shortening any day. :) Curious how it all comes, well here is my version:

Ingredients for fluffy Steam Buns recipe:
Starter dough:
120g pau flour (original calls for plain flour)
1/2 tsp active instant dry yeast
80ml warm water
pinch of salt

Knead all the ingredients together till it comes together to form a soft, smooth dough. Chill in the fridge up to 6-8hrs before use.

*Note: I increased the portion to about X1.5 to have more to make chocolate swirl mantou. So feel free to portion to your own liking.

Main Dough:
All of the above starter dough, approximately 165g
1.5 tsp active instant dry yeast
450g pau flour (Carol's recipe uses plain flour)
270ml fresh milk
40g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
74g unsalted butter, room temperature

Red Bean / Lotus paste filling

Method for Red bean / Lotus paste steam buns:
Place everything in a large mixing bowl except the butter and knead till it comes together. Once it forms into a dough, add in the butter and continue to knead for a good 5 to 7 minutes on the mixer or 10 minutes by hand till it is elastic and smooth.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and let proof till double in size. Punch out the air and divide the dough into 12 X 40g each. (Since I increased the recipe, I only weighed out 14 of the 40g portions and the rest I made into the chocolate mantou.) Reserve the rest of the dough for chocolate swirl mantou (chill in fridge) while you work with the buns.
Take a dough portion and flatten it into a disc, making sure the center is thicker then the edges. place about 2 tbsp's worth of red bean / lotus paste filling in the center. Seal up and roll round. Place on a greased proof paper and put the bun into the steamer (already prep with water) to further proof for about 40 minutes. Repeat.

Once proved, start the steamer and steam at medium high for 10 to 15 minutes. Note that do open the lid completely after steamed, open partially with a small gap for 15 minutes to let the buns cool slowly to prevent them to deflate.
For the Chocolate Swirl Mantou , here's the steps:
Add 2 tbsps more of confectioner's sugar into the reserved dough and knead into it. Then I divide it to 2 equal portions and knead 1 heaping tbsp of Valronha cocoa powder to one of the portions. Let it rest for 10 mins covered before shaping.
Roll both portions into 10cm by 20 cm rectangles. Brush a little water on the plain rectangle surface and place the chocolate rectangle on top. Seal the edges and roll up from the long side like a swiss roll and seal it nicely.
Using a knife and cut the dough in to equal portions about 3cm thickness each. Place on a grease proof paper squares and also place in steamer prep with water. Let it proof for 40 minutes before steaming.

Just like any other mantou, it's pretty much plain in taste. Perhaps with a hint of chocolate taste and a wee bit more sweet then the dough used for filled ones. But the best part of all is the softness of this bao and mantou...fluffy! :) Check it out yourself:
This recipe is definitely a keeper for me. Perhaps will make it again with meat filling. :)

I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #7 - Chocolate Delight (May 2011) hosted by DG from Tested and Tasted. Have you joined in the fun and submitted yours?

Okay folks, hope you all have a wonderful weekend! ;) Cheers!

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