So finally I have got myself to write about my Mantou, some Chinese steamed buns I baked a few weeks ago. I am doing it tonight because my dear friend Sandra is just closing the monthly collection on ethnic breads for Panissimo, so here I am writing even if I should really go rest a lttle.
These buns were then inspired by another (truly dear) friend of mine, Chinese indeed and from the Northern part of China where Mantou are a staple. There is a lot of history, of personal history, behind these buns. And if I close my eyes I can recollect some of the thousand times I have seen my friend having the steamed buns with her lunch. She has always been very fond of them. And I could never understand how. In their proper version Mantou are tasteless: no salt nor sugar are added. On top of it, they have no crust and their crumb is rather dense. Still, my friend loved them so much that she got me interested. Have to say that I did like the savory filled version of the Mantou, which is delicious and very tasty. My friend does not like to remember this episode, but I will never forget the time she actually put some freshly baked Mantou filled with steamy pork in my bag as a precious gift… just before a lecture. The scent was so strong I did not know where to hide… and of course I made fun of her forever for this (what a friend I am!). Anyway, these buns, filled or plain, have accompanied us all the way through our friendship. So when she mentioned that she was not happy with her Mantou baking skills I felt compelled to help out.
Incidentally, my friend happens to have a father who has diabetes, so I though of trying out a version of Mantou her mom could bake and which include a spice, fenugreek, who is supposedly a very strong antidiabetic (the effects of fenugreek bread are undergoing serious scientific scrutiny). She was very excited at the idea and said that my spiced buns, although different, tasted delicious. Should I trust an old friend who always tries to be nice?
CHINESE STEAMED BUNS (MANTOU) WITH FENUGREEK
230 g all-purpose flour
160 g finger warm milk
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
18 g (ca 3 teaspoon) ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes
2. Add remaining ingredients and knead until the dough is elastic and smooth
3. Let rest covered until the dough has risen about 1.5 times its original volume
4. Divide the dough in 2 and make 1 log out of each piece. Divide then each log into 7 pieces and shape as buns and let them rest, covered for a hour or until they have risen 1.5 times their initial volume
5. Place the buns over little squares of baking paper and place the pieces of paper and the buns over a steamer grid placed over a pot with water (make sure the water does not overflow out of the gid)
6. Cover tightly with a lid and cook on the stove on moderate-high heat for 20 minutes
7. Remove from the stove and wait for further 5 minutes before removing the lid
Note: original Mantou contain no salt, nor sugar, nor fenugreek and use water instead of milk, try both versions and compare, it’s fun!
With this bread I participate to Panissimo, a monthly bread showcase created by moi and Sandra and hosted this month by Sandra from Sono Io Sandra.
And… I am happy to participate also to the sparkling monthly showcase of my talented friend Wisla, Sourdough and Yeast (Na zakwasie i na drożdżach).