Purple Sweet Potato Steamed Buns (Mantou)

January 20, 2023

Earthy and ever so slightly sweet, these purple sweet potato steamed buns are complex in flavor but simple to make. With the characteristic springiness of steamed bread, these are lovely for breakfast or a snack, and you can cut them in half and fill them as sandwich buns if you like.



1.25 lb Local Roots Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes
400g bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
200g warm water



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the sweet potatoes, then prick with a fork to vent steam. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-75 minutes, until fork tender all the way through. 
  2. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool to the touch, then peel the skin. Puree the sweet potato until smooth, removing any lumps.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the bread flour, yeast, sugar, and warm water. Add in the sweet potato puree (peeled and pureed, ours weighed out to 255g of sweet potato) and mix together.
  4. When the mixture begins to come together, turn it out of the bowl onto a clean surface. Knead for at least 10 minutes, until there are no white streaks of flour.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and then place back into the bowl. Cover and set aside to allow the dough to proof for 30-60 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size and looks like it has taken a deep breath.
  6. When the dough has proofed, uncover it and knock the air out of it by pulling the dough away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Place a sheet of parchment paper down on a clean surface. Begin to shape the buns by pulling away a billiards ball sized segment and tugging the smooth side down toward the bottom before pinching the ends together and placing the bun seam-side down on the parchment paper. They don’t have to be perfect; the stretching just helps to create a bit of tension to help the buns rise, and nearly round still tastes good!
  8. Continue shaping the buns, placing them about one inch apart on the parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper or a damp towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Start the water boiling under your steamer. When the buns are a few minutes from finishing their second rise, use scissors to cut in between the buns so that each bun is sitting on an individual parchment square.
  10. When the steamer is ready, carefully place each parchment square with a bun on it into the steamer. They will expand slightly, so don’t crowd them. 
  11. Steam for 20 minutes, then leave the lid on and turn off the heat. Allow them to finish steaming with the heat off for 10 more minutes. This second wait helps the bun set and creates a better texture. 
  12. Remove the buns from the steamer and lift them from the squares of parchment. Serve and enjoy!


This recipe was created by Local Roots contributor Irena Huang / @irena__huang

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