I first wrote up my mom's hua juan recipe almost 9 years ago so I figured it's time to give a little update. You can use this recipe to make regular steamed mantou, or fill them to make different types of baozi, but my favorite is still hua juan, which is just the regular bao dough with a sesame-scallion glaze twisted into a flower shape.
I recently came across this new way to shape bread called a Winston knot. There aren't many videos of how to make it online, and the one I used wasn't even that good, but once you get the idea it's pretty easy. You can make it with two single strips or two double strips like I did here. I think the most popular one I've seen is with two triple strips; the resulting bun looks like a volleyball!
The first step is to make an X with the strips.
Then you'll cross one half of the bottom strip over.
Now take the strip that's on the bottom of this picture and weave it through the other 3 strips.
Continue taking the strip on the bottom (or on the right after rotating 90 degrees) and weaving it through the other 3 strips.
When you run out of dough to weave, smush the ends all together.
Then roll the braid up into a ball with the smushed end on the inside.
That's it! For these buns I decided to apply the sesame-scallion glaze only on the inside of the bun so the outside would stay immaculately white.
My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns makes 12 buns
A heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 cup milk, warmed to 100-110°F
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Turn the oven on to the lowest setting (mine is 170°F).
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. If you don't have a thermometer, the milk should feel a little warmer than a fever.
Combine the flour and sugar, then add the milk mixture and oil. Mix together until a dough forms and knead a few minutes until smooth. Cover the bowl and place in the oven. Turn off the heat and let the dough proof for an hour or until doubled.
Once the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and turn the oven on again to the lowest setting. Punch the dough down and knead a few more times. Divide into twelve equal pieces (I divide in half twice and then divide each quarter into thirds). Shape and fill the dough at this point if desired. Place each bun on a square of parchment paper. Cover and place in the oven, turning off the oven again. Let proof another 40-60 minutes.
Steam the buns for 13 minutes. I use my stockpot with the pasta insert as one level and the steamer insert as a second level so I can steam 6 at a time.
If not eating immediately, freeze and reheat in the microwave before eating.