I stumbled across a way to make the traditional Chinese buns without a steamer or the use of yeast. This recipe takes less than five minutes to whip together and you cook it in the microwave for about 1 minute. And they taste just like the original.
Chinese buns are a staple item in the Chinese diet. They come in many variations, some with filling, some with spirals, but the most common one is the basic plain one, called “mantou“.
They are often served with a congee breakfast or eaten with dried pork sung or other meats. The buns are fluffy but dense and have a mild sweetness.
They are white in color and traditionally steamed. I’ve made them from scratch before but it is so cheap to buy pre-made frozen ones that I never made the effort again.
I was in the kitchen trying to create a new mug cake when I ended up with this “cake” which was not at all what I was expecting. But it tasted eerily similar to my childhood Chinese bun. I thought maybe I was imagining it and gave it to Mr. K to taste and asked him what he thought it was. He thought it was a “mantou,” which is the plain Chinese steamed bun.
Since the batter is wet, you can’t shape these like the traditional buns. So instead, I baked them in silicone cupcake molds. I bought mine from Amazon. The molds hold less than 1 mug cake of batter, so they actually only take 30 seconds instead of 1 minute. I’m so excited about this discovery. The key is the condensed milk which binds the flour and creates a dense, thick bread bun.
No more kneading, rolling, or steaming. And I can just make just one serving.
5 Minute Chinese Buns
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp condensed milk
3 tbsp fat free milk
Using a small whisk, mix all ingredients into a microwave safe mug until batter is smooth and no flour chunks remain. Batter will be thick. Microwave for about 1 minute. Top of bun should look dry. You should be able to remove the entire bun in one piece. If using silicone molds, fill about 2/3 full with batter. This recipe should be enough to make two regular silicone cupcake molds. Microwave each separately for about 30 seconds. If using something bigger or smaller, you will have to adjust time accordingly.