Introduction: Segmented Orange Mantou
Hi everyone! Today we are making a one of a kind steamed buns, Tangerine Mantou, These little baby buns are so fun to eat! Plus, they look so realistic and everyone loves to peel the skins and segments as if they were eating real tangerines! This orange bun will make you realized how fun it is to play around with Bao dough.
If you are asking what is the difference between a Baozi and a Mantou, they are basically sisters, except one is filled with fillings (which is a Baozi) and the other one is left unfilled (the Mantou). The dough is essentially made exactly the same, same ingredients, same proofing technique and they also taste exactly the same. The only difference is the application of the dough. Some are filled with savory or sweet filling, some like the mantou is left completely plain, some are fried, some turned into a sandwich slices. Because the dough is so versatile, it gives us plenty of room to explore. Another plus point is that unlike your baked enriched dough, steam buns are naturally very white and allow all sorts of colors to be added and played around without losing or altering it's color after cooking. Think of it as a very white blank canvas.
Very Important Note: Many of you will ask "Can I just use a basic All-Purpose flour that I find at the grocery store?"
The answer is, a strict NO.
Baozi and Mantou are made with a different kind of "all purpose flour". In Asia, we don't even use the term all-purpose for Bao flour, we usually call it Hong Kong flour. It is still made with wheat, so no...it's not gluten-free. But Bao flour or Hong Kong flour has extremely little protein percentage and is extremely bleached (hence, the steamed buns are always snow white, a pretty shine and has a thin paper-like skin). So is it best to substitute it if you don't have it? I highly recommend you don't, because substituting it will indefinitely alter it's texture, taste, stretchiness, color, and the fact that it always inevitably collapse a-little after steaming. How do I know? Don't say I have not tried it out, thanks of sheer laziness to drive to my local asian store.
Can I still make steamed buns with regular all-purpose flour?
If you die-hard insist, then I am not stopping you. But I did warn you about the stark difference of the outcome. Usually they turn out fine, but don't expect it to be something you googled or had in your favorite dim-sum restaurant.
Here is a link of my favorite no-fail Bao flour: Amazon Bao flour
Note: This package contains a packet of yeast inside. I usually discard that yeast because I do not know the expire date of the yeast, so chances are that yeast is old and dead. I just use my regular, up-to-date yeast that I bought from my local grocery store :)
Kitchen tools that we need:
Stand mixer with hook attachment (kneading by hand is fine too)
Saran kitchen wrap
Large Chef's knife or a sharp bench scraper
Clean artist paint brushes
Steamer basket or steamer machine
Proceed to the next step for instructions :D
Step 2: Rising Yeast and Dough Making
1 packet of Bao flour
100g of granulated white sugar
200ml of slightly warm whole milk
1 packet of instant or active dry yeast
Food coloring in yellow and red (gel is preferred, but water-based works just as well)
1) In a small cup or ramekin, tear open your 1 packet of yeast and pour it inside your ramekin.
Pour 1/8 cup (or 3 tablespoons) of warm tap water. Mix and let it hydrate and foam for 5-10 minutes till frothy.
Set aside until ready to use.
2) Pour your Bao flour into your stand mixer bowl. Pour in your sugar and warm milk next.
Step 3: Knead & Weigh Your Dough
3) Once your activated yeast is nice and frothy, pour it in together with your flour, sugar and milk.
Knead the dough for approximately 10-15 minutes. The dough will be very shaggy as first, and then it will start to look a little to the sticky side, but do not add in any flour. Continue kneading the sticky dough until it starts to develop some gluten structure and starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
You know the dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl and hook relatively easy. It's still a little sticky to the touch but do not be concern.
With slightly dampen hands, remove the dough from the hook and smooth it into a ball. The dough may look a little textured and bumpy, but it will disappear later as it continue to hydrate during the proofing.
The total weigh of your dough should be approximately 740-750 grams.
Divide the weight of your dough into thirds:
- Reserve 246g of your dough for the plain white section. Place in bowl and cover in saran wrap.
- With the remaining 492g (2/3 of the dough), place it back in the mixer to color.
Step 4: Color Your Dough
With the 2/3s of your dough back in the mixer. Place some orange gel food coloring or mix it with red and yellow food coloring. Continue kneading it till it is a uniform orange hue.
If you use a water-based food coloring like I did, sprinkle in a little more bao flour or regular all purpose flour because the water based color has added liquids and made the dough softer.
Once it's ready. with dampen hands pull the dough away from the hook and smooth into a ball.
Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap.
Let it proof for 1 hour or until double in size.
Step 5: Prepping Your Work Table
Before we begin making our oranges, we need to prep our work table.
1) Prep your Bao papers.
Cut 8, 3 by 3 inch squares from a regular baking parchment paper.
2) Prep your dye bowl.
In a ramekin, pour in an orange gel food coloring or a mix of red and yellow TOGETHER with a few drops of an unflavored, uncolored vodka. We use this so that the "paint" dries out quickly at room temperature and will not make the surface of the dough sticky. Have a clean paintbrush ready as well for painting.
3) A small ramekin filled with unflavored oil.
Pour a small tablespoon of unflavored oil (i used vegetable oil) into a ramekin and a separate clean brush with it.
Step 6: Divide Your Dough
Once your dough has proofen till double in size, remove the saran wrap and punch all the air bubbles out. You want to remove all air bubbles because any bubbles with leave a weird uneven rise during steaming.
1) White Dough.
Roll your dough into a log and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Place unto a small plate and cover with saran wrap to prevent it from drying out.
2) Orange Dough
Divide your dough into 16 equal pieces.
You can do this by dividing into 2 halves first. Then half again, which now give you 4 equal quadrants.
Divide each quadrant into 4 equal pieces, repeat for the rest of the quadrants.
You now have 16 pieces altogether.
Place 8 pieces unto one small plate (plate A), and another 8 pieces onto a different plate (plate B).
Cover both plates with saran wrap.
Step 8: Weighing You Dough
This step is completely optional, but your dough pieces should be about roughly 30 grams each (+/-), or a small ping pong ball.
Step 9: Getting Ready to Get Started!
Have your items lay out closely to you on your work table.
Take one orange ball from Plate A and mark 8 equal quadrants.
Step 10: Cut Orange Segments
Using a sharp benchscraper or a large knife, cut the dough into 8 equal segments.
Pinch out one tiny white dough and roll it into a sausage with your fingers and place it in the middle.
Using a small brush, paint some oil unto both of the side of the segmented oranges. This will prevent the dough from sticking together at all and will remain separated even after cooking.
When you are done painting all the sides, gather them together with the palm of your hands, (they tend to move around because they are oiled).
Step 11: Making the White Pith
Roll out one white ball.
Paint an oiled circle at the center of the rolled white dough.
Place the orange segments on top of the oiled circle.
Paint more oil all around the segmented orange, this will prevent the oranges from sticking to the pith after cooking.
Be careful not to oil the outer edges of the white circle because any oil present will prevent the dough from sealing tight.
Gather the edges of the white circle and pinch all around as you go. Seal the tip completely.
Snip or pinch off any excess dough sticking at the top.
Step 12: Cover the Pith With Skin
Place the white ball seam side down. Shape the dough into a neat even ball if needed.
Take one orange ball from Plate B and roll in into a circle big enough to cover the entirety of the white ball.
Like earlier, oil the center of the orange circle but not the edges.
Place the white dough, seam side down.
Cover and seal the orange skin all around. Pinch and snip off any extra dough.
Repeat for the rest of the other 8.
Step 13: Paint Your Orange
Using a broader clean paint brush, paint the dye unto the surface of the orange ball.
It will dry off relatively fast within 5 minutes.
Proof your dough for 10-15 minutes before steaming.
Pre-heat your steamer.
Step 14: Cook Your Mantou
Once your steamer is already pre-heated and is hot, place your dough either one or two at a time.
DO NOT OVER-CROWD. Over-crowding your dough will make the buns stick to each other peel off it's beautiful silky skin away.
Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium high heat.
Once cooked, turn off the heater and do not open the lid immediately. Let it sit in there for another 2 minutes to prevent sudden collapse.
Remove Mantou shortly and serve immediately.
If not serve immediately, place your buns inside an extra large Tupperware with a lid. Do not let it out uncovered, or it will become hard.
Step 15: Enjoy!
These little cute Tangerines buns are so cute! If you wanna be fancy, you are welcome to place some fruit stems or orange stem with leaves to make it even look extra realistic. Other than, that, feel free to peel off their "skins: and pretend to eat them like real tangerines, pulling each segments apart.
Runner Up in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest