Jujube Mantou #BreadBakers

Our Breadbakers theme for this month is Chinese Breads and our host is A Day in the Life on the Farm. I was sorely tempted by all the scallion breads, but intrigued by the beautiful shaping of the flower buns that is an option when making mantou. I was also curious about the Chinese dates/ red dates/ jujube. They are quite different from Medjool dates, not sticky, not nearly as sweet, and rather spongy with a tenacious pit. They reminded me very much of dried apples with a bit of caramel flavor. The ones I found were enormous compared to what I saw in all the pictures online!

Traditionally, these steamed buns are made with bao flour, which is bleached and yields a nice creamy white bun. I have made bao before with all purpose flour and they turned out fairly creamy white. I was surprised that this batch turned so caramel colored after steaming and I wonder whether it was the jujube fruit, or the fact that I added a bit of corn starch to my flour to approximate a low/medium gluten bao flour.

These mantou are a sweet version, but mantou can be savory as well and filled with many different things or eaten plain.  (I definitely want to try filling them with a scallion omlette!)  The jujube was an interesting flavor that grew on us, especially with the soft and fluffy steam bun presentation.  Like most steamed buns, mantou are best served warm, but may be refrigerated or frozen and then reheated in the microwave or steamer basket.  I took this particular version of mantou from a youtube video by Kimiya Lim.

Jujube Mantou
makes 6 medium steam buns

Yeast mixture:
90ml warm water
5g (1 tsp) fine sugar
3g (1 tsp) instant yeast

190g (1¼ cups) Bao flour (can be replaced with all purpose flour)
½ tsp baking powder
30g (1/8 cup) Caster sugar
15g (1 tbsp) melted butter (or oil)
35g (5~6 pcs) Jujube / Red dates - finely chopped (mine were HUGE and I used 3 - 2 would have been better)

oil to brush the dough 
Activate yeast by stirring into the water, with the 5g sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Pour into the yeast mixture and stir together to form a shaggy mixture. Pour the melted butter over the top and add the chopped red dates. Combine well. Turn the rough dough out onto a work surface and knead for 5-6 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.  Place in a clean bowl, cover and let rest for 40-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Turn out the dough and knead for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Form each piece into a round, then slightly oval ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

 To shape the buns into a decorative flower, roll out each portion to form an oblong.  Brush the top of the dough with a little oil.  Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut about five lengthwise strips within the oblong, taking care not to cut all the way through the edges.  Pick up the dough and twist the ends, bringing them back together and tucking the ends under to form a spiral flower.  Set each bun onto a piece of parchment or a muffin liner.  Arrange on a bamboo steamer tray with enough room so the sides do not touch.  Cover and let rest for 35-45 minutes until almost doubled in size.


Steam with high heat for 12 minutes.  Let stand with the lid closed or just barely cracked open for 2 minutes when done to ensure the buns are finished and will not deflate.

Serve warm.  The buns will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, or may be frozen for a month.  Reheat in the steamer or microwave to serve.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.



Be sure to check out the variety of Chinese breads by our other bakers:



  1. I like the color. Thanks for finding and sharing such an interesting recipe.

  2. I can't wait to try this shaping method. I'm sure the color came from the jujubes (which I've never heard of before, they ARE huge!). Great find Kelly.

  3. This looks delicious. I would love to try it out.

  4. A very interesting write up on the Chinese dates, love the color and shape of these buns

  5. These are amazing! I would love to try these! Looks and sounds yum!


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