Sourdough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

by - November 26, 2020

Sourdough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

Sourdough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

Sourdough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

Sourdough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

After seeing the Scallion Sourdough Discard Mantou post by Baking with Gina  I was so inspired and wanted to make it too.  This recipe and method is adapted from Gina and it is a very good, simple method.  Instead of using discard, I used fresh sweet levain fed with low protein flour.  I did that because my sourdough discard contained 100% high gluten flour and that made the buns chewy; but if you prefer a chewy texture, then please use the discard that you have.  The discard must be a few days old and it needs to be still healthy and strong.

The sweet levain method is adapted from Autumn Kitchen.  This method ensures that the taste won't be tangy at all.

I used unbleached pau flour and also brown sugar. As a result, my buns are not as white as the mantou we usually to see.   If you want very fine and white buns, just use "Hong Kong flour".

I have others steamed buns recipe using instant yeast.  Please click here if you are interested.

How To Store Mantou?
The mantou may be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.  Steam it again when you want to eat it. I have not tried freezing it so I cannot give any advice on that.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.

Recipe - Soudough Mantou (Sourdough Steamed Buns)

Yields: 12 Mantou


Sweet Levain (ratio 1:3:3:1):
28g sourdough starter (100% Hydration)
86 pau flour (low protein flour), please use Hong Kong flour if you prefer white and fine texture.
86g water
28g sugar

Main Dough:
250g pau flour (low protein flour)
All the sweet levain (above)
25g caster sugar (I used light brown sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
12g vegetable oil 
60g - 65g water or milk (use 60g first and add another 5g if needed)

  1. Sweet Levain:
    1. One night before baking, mix all ingredients in a jar and cover.
    2. Let it ferment in aircond room temperature in tropical climate (approximately 25C) overnight until tripled.  It took about 10 - 12 hours.
  2. Main Dough:
    1. Put all ingredients including all the sweet starter into a bowl of stand mixer.
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the paddle attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  Using the paddle attachment, mix for 4 - 5 minutes or until all incorporated.  I did not knead the dough as I do not want gluten to be formed if possible.
  3. Proofing and Shaping:
    1. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes in the same bowl, covered with cling film or the lid.  
    2. Lightly dust the working surface with flour.  Roll out the dough to a rectangle (about 54 cm X 26 cm).
    3. Roll the dough tightly from the longer edge to form a log. Cut dough into 12 equal portions with knife.
    4. Place each mantou on a piece of baking parchment paper.
    5. Spread the mantous on the bamboo steamer about 1 inch apart as the dough will rise. 
    6. Place the bamboo steamer on top of warm water and proof for 1.5 hours - 2 hours or until the buns increase 80% in size.
  4. Steaming:
    1. Prepare the steamer, wrap the steamer cover with a clean cloth.  This will prevent steamer water dropping on the bun in order to get a smooth skin.   
    2. Once the mantous have risen, steam over medium low heat for about 10 minutes
    3. Once it’s done, off the heat.  After 5 minutes transfer the bamboo steamer away from the water and let it stand for another 10 minutes before removing the cover. With this, the mantou will not shrink and get wrinkle on the skin after cooling down.

You May Also Like


  1. Can I reduce the usage volume of caster sugar and oil in the main dough? And if I don't have the bamboo steamer,what can I use to replace it?

    1. Hi thanks for reading this recipe. Yes, you can reduce the sugar and oil. But the taste and texture maybe slight different if you cut down too much.

      You can use any steamer that you have.. electrical steamer is fine too. So happened I have bamboo steamer so I used this.

      Cheers :)

  2. hi, can I substitute the sourdough starter with something else? I've always wanted to make mantou but I don't have a sourdough starter.

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe. You can use instant yeast.

      I have several steamed buns recipes in my blog using instant yeast.
      You may use this one if you like. Just use the dough and ignore the filling:

      Cheers :)

  3. Hi..could you help me with my silly questions.. ��when i want to steam it, I need to make sure the water is boiling right before placing the bun? Or can i put the bun in the steamer and then start the fire from the beginning? Also, I don't have bamboo steamer or electric so i use normal steamer on top of the stove. So after 10 minutes steaming the bun, the bun need to rest for 5 minutes right. After that should i let the bun stay in the steamer? Or remove it from the steamer?

    Thank you for answering ��

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe and your question.
      I guess you are using the normal steamer with bottom layer is the water. Please heat up the bottom layer with water one first. When water boiling, stake the other layers with mantou inside on top.
      Off the fire after 10 minutes. Then wait for 5 minutes then only transfer the layers with mantou from the stove and please dont open the lid yet. After 10 mins only open the lid. So total cooling time is 15 mins.
      This is my method. You can also try other methods if you think it is too long and complicated...
      I hope it is clear..
      Cheers :)

  4. hi , I have tried a couple of your sourdough soft bread recipe . it turned out really good and I love it so much. thank you for sharing your recipe .
    now it time for me to try the sourdough steam bun recipe but I want to put the meat inside as a pork bun , can I use this mantau recipe to make the bun ?

    1. Hi, thanks for trying the sourdough soft bread recipes and your kind feedback. Yes, you can use this sourdough steamed buns recipe to make pork bun.

      Happy baking :)


  5. Hi! I want to make european style steamed buns ("germknoedel" or "pampuchy") with sourdough starter and I have few questions. I've noticed that in your yeasted recipes for steamed buns you add baking powder, knead the dough extensively and perform bulk fermentation. Is there a reason why this recipe omits these? If I am not sure that my starter is active enough or I cannot maintain relatively high temperature (at least in my house) of fermentation should I use baking powder or alter the recipe in some other way? I have only one steamer basket that will not fit many buns, so I would have to steam them in batches. But with 25 min (10 min steaming + 15 min resting) per batch, it seems like steaming would take forever. Do you have some ideas how to deal with this problem?

    1. Hi, thanks for reading my recipes.

      I kneaded longer in my yeast recipe is because I used 100% pau flour (low protein flour). For my this recipe, my starter contain some bread flour. So, I did not knead the dough.

      I used baking powder because I found recipes using baking powder yields lighter texture buns. You can omit this if you want your buns to be more solid. I did not use in this recipe because I thought I want it to be 100% natural yeast. You can add if you feel your starter is weak.

      You can place the second batch of buns in fridge while waiting for the first batch to steam. The resting time is just estimated. You can adjust accordingly to your schedule.

      Cheers and stay safe :)

  6. Hello. Thanks for sharing your recipe, I will try it for the first time.

    I have one question: in the sweet levain, you say 200 g, but the total is 228 g. Did I miss something? English is not my first language.



    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe and your question. We don't count the sugar. Sugar just additional to make the bun not sour. But, we use all the sweet levain. I hope it is clear.

      Cheers :)