Steam bread, also known as steamed bread or mantou, is a type of bread that is cooked by steaming instead of baking. It is a popular staple food in many Asian cuisines, particularly in China, where it originated.
Steam bread is made from a simple mixture of flour, water, yeast, and sometimes sugar or salt. The dough is typically allowed to rise for a period of time before being shaped into small round or oval buns, which are then placed in a steamer and cooked over boiling water. The steam cooks the bread, giving it a soft and fluffy texture.
The taste and texture of steam bread can vary depending on the specific recipe and regional variations. It is often served plain as a side dish or accompaniment to main meals, but it can also be filled with various ingredients such as meat, vegetables, or sweet fillings like red bean paste.
In addition to its versatility, steam bread is valued for its lightness and moistness. It is a common component in dim sum menus and is enjoyed both as a savory and sweet treat.
How to cook steam bread
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar (if using).2. Gradually add the lukewarm water to the dry ingredients while mixing. Continue mixing until a soft dough forms.3. Drizzle the vegetable oil over the dough and knead it for a few minutes until the oil is well incorporated and the dough becomes smooth and elastic.4. Shape the dough into a round or oval loaf. You can also divide the dough into smaller portions to make individual buns.5. Place the shaped dough onto a greased or lined steaming rack or basket. Leave some space between the pieces to allow for expansion during cooking.6. Bring water to a boil in a pot or steamer large enough to accommodate the steaming rack or basket.7. Once the water is boiling, carefully place the steaming rack or basket with the dough into the pot or steamer. Cover the pot or steamer with a lid to trap the steam.8. Steam the bread over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until the bread is cooked through. The cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the bread, so it's best to check for doneness using a toothpick or skewer. Insert it into the center of the bread—if it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached, the bread is done.9. Once cooked, carefully remove the bread from the steamer and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.This recipe should give you a steamed bread that you can enjoy on its own or as a side to accompany various dishes. Feel free to experiment with different flavors and additions, such as herbs, cheese, or spices, to customize the bread according to your preferences.