These Coconut Cream Mantou Buns are the softest, the best melt-in-your-mouth mantou (馒头) recipe that I've EVER made! These steamed buns are so simple to make but still a perfect blend of sweetness and fluffiness, with a soft and velvety texture thanks to the addition of rich and creamy coconut cream. It's also vegan-friendly, and there's no need for eggs, milk or butter at all. Ideal for breakfast, snacks, or any time you're craving something comforting, these buns will be a hit with everyone!
Why I love this Recipe
- Soft and fluffy
- Easy to make if you have a stand mixer
- No eggs, no milk, no dairy needed!
- makes the ultimate comfort food, breakfast and snack
Ingredients Used to Make Coconut Cream Mantou Buns
**I've linked some of these ingredients to amazon.com to give you an idea of what they are, but you should also be able to find them in your local grocery store (usually, the natural & organic food section). They are also affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission as an Amazon Associate if you decide to purchase the items. The price will be the same for you, link or no link 🙂
- Bread Flour - I used bread flour for this recipe (I use King Arthur Bread Flour most), which I prefer and highly recommend for the best texture and structure. Please read the note on the substitution section below if using other flours.
- Instant Yeast - you can find instant yeast in the baking section near the flours. My favorite is SAF Instant Premium Yeast, which works quickly and consistently produces great results. I recommend using instant yeast over active yeast for this recipe since active yeast (unlike instant yeast) needs to be activated in water, which we don't add until the very end.
- Sugar - I used raw cane sugar, but you can use regular granulated white sugar, or healthier alternatives like coconut, date, or maple sugars which are less processed and more natural. I also sometimes like to use honey powder.
- For yeasted breads, I would not recommend using sugar-free substitutes such as monk fruit sweetener or stevia powder since they can cause the bread to not rise properly. If you prefer a lower sugar recipe, you're welcome to leave out the sugar. The bread might taste slightly plain, but it will not significantly impact the shape or texture of the bread.
- Salt - Pink Himalayan salt is what I have at home, so it’s what I use, but you can use any kind for this recipe.
- Baking Powder - helps to puff up the dough during the steaming process.
- Coconut Cream - Coconut cream is a thick, rich, and luxurious ingredient made from pressing fresh, ripe coconut meat. Unlike coconut milk, which is made by blending coconut meat with water, coconut cream has a thicker and creamier consistency and is often used as a vegan substitute for heavy cream. Still, even though coconut cream has a high-fat content, it's also healthier and is also a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to any recipe.
- NOTE: cream of coconut is also not the same thing as coconut cream because the latter typically contains added sugar and thickeners, while coconut cream is the thick, creamy layer of coconut that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk.
- I used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. You're also welcome to use a bread machine, or knead the dough by hand.
Step by Step Guide
How to Make Coconut Cream Mantou Buns
Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
Add the coconut cream to the dry ingredients
Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are combined. If the dough is stiff or there are still dry ingredients left, add the 1 ½ Tbsp of water.
NOTE: You may need to add more depending on the protein content of the flour, as well as the humidity and temperature of the kitchen.
Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Let rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface and divide into 12 equal sized pieces.
Use a rolling pin to flatten into a large rectangle, about 16 x 10 inches in size. Starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly into a tight cylinder (like a sushi roll or cinnamon roll). Pinch the ends to seal.
Use a sharp serrated knife or dental floss to divide the log into 12 equal pieces. Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
Transfer the buns to the steaming pan and steam the buns for 15 minutes
Each layer of these soft buns are soft and melt-in-your-mouth. It's so fun to eat!
Recipe Variations and Optional Add Ins:
- Add color to the buns - matcha powder, turmeric, or natural food coloring like beet powder, etc!
- Other than coloring you can also add different flavorings to the dough before cooking. For example, you can add either a teaspoon of coffee extract or espresso powder, cocoa, cinnamon or Cardamom Powder. They're not typically added in a traditional recipe, but you're welcome to experiment!
How to Store Coconut Cream Mantou Buns
- These steamed buns can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge inside an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- For longer storage, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, re-steam buns in a steamer for about 10 minutes.
NOTE ON SUBSTITUTIONS
- Unfortunately, gluten-free flours cannot be substituted for bread flour in this recipe.
- All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour, but will produce softer, less chewy steamed buns.
- Weigh your flour for the best results. 1 cup of bread flour = 120 grams / 4.23 oz. This is recommended since scooping the flour directly from the bag can can pack the flour into the measuring cup, and this means you’ll end up with more flour than what’s called for in the recipe. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can measure the flour by spooning pre-sifted flour into the measuring cup, then using the straight end of the spoon to level the flour across the top to sweep off the excess.
- To make this recipe in the bread machine: add all the dry ingredients into the machine, stir briefly before adding the wet ingredients. The machine can be set for basic. Check the dough for consistency and adjust by adding additional water (or flour) before the end of the first kneading cycle. If you want to add additional nuts or dried fruits, leave them aside, and only them 3 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle.
Softest Coconut Cream Mantou Steamed Buns
- Mix all the dry ingredients (bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder) in the bowl of the stand mixer.
- Pour coconut cream into the dry ingredients.
- Start to knead the dough at a low setting (speed 2) for about a minute, until all the ingredients are combined. If the dough is stiff or if there are still dry ingredients left, add the 1 ½ Tbsp of water.Note: I only needed to add 1 ½ Tbsp of water but additional 1-2 Tablespoons of water may be necessary depending on the protein content of the flour, as well as the humidity and temperature of the kitchen.
- Continue to knead for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth, supple ball.
- Remove the finished dough from the mixer bowl and place in a lightly greased bowl.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes***
- When the dough is ready, punch down the dough then remove from bowl. Place on a generously floured surface (or a surface greased with olive oil).
- Use a rolling pin to flatten into a large rectangle, about 16 x 10 inches in size
- Starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly into a tight cylinder (like a sushi roll or cinnamon roll). Pinch the ends to seal.
- Use a dental floss or a sharp serrated knife to divide the log into 12 equal pieces.
- Place each bun on a piece of parchment square, or a sheet of steamer paper.
- Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil water and prepare the steamer
- Transfer the buns to the steaming pan and steam the buns for 15 minutes
- Note: You can store these steamed buns, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 1 day. For longer storage, you can place them in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months, then defrost them at room temperature or steam them again for just 10 minutes to enjoy them just like fresh.