Plain Raised Buns 戗面馒头
When I was in college in Shanghai, there was a tiny little Bun store right by the campus. It was famous for a special type of plain raised buns called ShangDong GaoZhuang ManTou. Every Saturday when I got there, there was a long line. The bun had a very tight texture, yet it was not hard. A few years ago, a friend shared a plain bun recipe with me. Curious as I am with food, I tried it right away and surprised to find it’s almost identical to the bun I was in line for some twenty years ago.
Start with basic dough for buns. After it’s doubled in size, keep on kneading dry flour into the dough. It was easy at first as the raised dough was pretty soft and had lots of moisture. Add 1/4 cup the first time, knead till all flour is incorporated into the dough and it’s smooth. Add another 1/4 cup of flour, and continue to knead. This would get harder and harder as the dough is getting dry. I usually add 1 to 1.25 cup of flour. Knead another 200 times after everything was incorporated so that the texture is consistent and there is no air bubbles. You can then either divide them into pieces and knead them into smooth balls, or knead everything and roll it out to a long log and cut into 2 inch pieces.
Steam over high heat for 15 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes before opening the lid. The bun should be nice and smooth. Inside, you will find delicate layers.