Anyhow, back to the business. As a Cantonese (廣東人), mantou (饅頭) isn't a staple for us on our table. Differing from the Northern Chinese, we almost have to have rice as the main source of our carbohydrate. (By the way, to say "almost" is because we can sometimes have noodles if we crave for it.) We commonly take mantou more as street food and restaurant dish.
What I'd like to share with you here is wolfberry dark brown sugar mantou (枸杞黑糖饅頭). I can't wait put this out because this recipe is absolutely healthy. You see, there were so many things that I once considered scarce and expensive during my 2-1/2-year stay in the U.S. One of them is wolfberries, or goji berries (枸杞). So, making these mantou was definitely my first time using wolfberries in my cooking and baking.
The Chinese believe that wolfberries are good for your vision; hence, our regular consumption of the berries. When I first found out about the recipe for these Chinese buns from this amazing Hong Kong-based culinary site, I thought to myself, "You've gotta a give them a shot!" (Man, it has so much to offer! Cantonese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, Southeast Asian, French, Italian and many other international cuisines! You'll love it if you understand Cantonese!)
These buns are a Taipei (台北) street food that combines the goodness and unique flavors of dark brown (or muscovado) sugar and wolfberries. They were made with the direct method instead of using any sponge (麵種). So, they're best served immediately while they're still hot or warm in order to taste their softness; otherwise, they'll turn harder upon cooling. Nonetheless, resteaming the buns for 3-5 minutes to reheat them does the trick by bringing back their tenderness. Still, how long the dough was kneaded determines the texture of the mantou. So, don't overknead it! It's not supposed to be kneaded like how you'd do to a bread dough!
Another good thing about the mantou is that the recipe doesn't call for any oil. You can tell then these buns are super healthy. This recipe makes a rather big batch. So, halve it if you wish to. Because I don't have any dark brown or muscovado sugar, I used light brown sugar. I reckon that the first two ones will definitely give the buns a more intense flavor. So if possible, don't substitute dark brown or muscovado sugar with any other types of sugar.
Wolfberry Dark Brown Sugar Mantou 枸杞黑糖饅頭 (Adapted from Queenie's)
80g dark brown sugar 黑糖
250ml water 6g instant dry yeast
500g plain flour
80g dried wolfberries 枸杞
extra dried wolfberries, for garnishing
- Soak the wolfberries in enough water for 3 minutes--DON'T oversoak them; otherwise, they'll become too soft and mushy! Cut out a huge sheet of waxed/parchment paper into rectangular shape of the same size--how big it is will depend on how big your mantou are going to be
- Dissolve (A) together completely, then stir in the yeast till dissolved
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the yeast mixture and mix till a dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl
- Turn the dough onto a working surface and knead till smooth and not sticky--DON'T overknead it! Then, round up the dough into a ball and cover to let rest for 10~15 minutes.
- Roughly roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, evenly sprinkle half the soaked berries all over the rectangular dough and roll it up from the longer side Swiss roll-style--make sure the berries are included into the dough; pinch both the ends so that no berries will fall off Roll out the the rolled-up dough again in the same manner as described above and incorporate the remaining half of the wolfberries this time into the dough
All this work ensure the wolfberries are incorporated into the dough without bursting! So, you won't end up getting bloody-red mantou later on LOL! Then, round up the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. To each portion, roll out and shape into a log; using a dough scraper-cutter or a sharp knife, divide the log into equal portions--each portion should look somewhat like a rectangular shape. But really, the size of the mantou is a matter of preference.
- Place each portion of dough onto a piece of cut-out parchment paper, then place a dried wolfberry on top as garnish; cover and let rest for 20 minutes
- Prepare the steamer by bringing the water into a full-rolling boil over high heat. Once the water's reached that stage, place the mantou onto the steaming rack.
Steam them over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes--adjust the cooking time accordingly to the size of your mantou
Once the cooking time is up, DON'T uncover the steamer yet--let the mantou sit in the steamer for 5 minutes with the steamer's lid on. Taking the buns out immediately will cause them to wrinkle due to the immediate drastic change in temperature.
- Uncover the steamer, remove the mantou from the steamer and serve them immediately