Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Recipe: Steamed Bread (Mantou)

I love bread. I really, really do. More than that, I love baking bread. But, in China, I definitely do not have an oven and despite peer pressure, I'm not going to buy one. I'm just not interested in spending money on a toaster oven that I'll own for maybe 9 months.

Luckily for me, in the northern part of China, Mantou, or Steamed Bread is very common. You can buy it at the grocery store or market, but often it's dry {reeeaaally dry}.  So, when I found this recipe on Yi Reservation I jumped on it.

I'm not gonna lie, I had a fun time in the grocery store buying flour {according to my co-teacher I actually bought bread flour} and yeast. I got a lot of use out of my translation app, that's for sure!

I'm not going to post step-by-step photos because Yi has done an excellent job of that. I am, however, going to post the recipe as I made it {he lists the ingredients in grams, and my process is slightly different because he used a bread machine and I did not} and show you the final product. As far as breads go, this recipe is fairly fool-proof and very easy.

3ish cups of all-purpose or bread flour
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS instant yeast {I think dry-active would be fine, also}
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup water
2 pinches of salt {maybe about 1/4 of a tsp}

In a small bowl, combine sugar, yeast and 1/4 cup water.
Let sit for 5 minutes and let the mixture become frothy.
Meanwhile, measure out flour, baking powder and salt {I usually measure out 2.5 cups of flour and then knead in the rest}.
Mix in a bowl and, add water and yeast mixture {I use chopsticks for this}.
When you have a sticky dough, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until you have a smooth but not sticky ball {add flour bit by bit}.
Put in an oiled bowl covered with a damp towel and let the dough rise for around 45 minutes {it should have doubled}.
Punch down the dough and knead for around 5 minutes.
Divide the dough in half.
With one half, roll it into a log, then use a rolling pin to make a flat rectangle.
Brush the flat dough with water, then roll it width-wise {so, you'll have a long rolled piece of dough.
Cut it into pieces {I usually get about 6 out of a roll} and place in a steamer.
Let rise for 30 minutes-ish {don't forget the damp towel}.
Steam for 12-15 minutes.
Try not to eat them ALL at one time.

{My co-teacher helping me knead}

The next project? Steamed cinnamon rolls!

What have you been making lately?

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