When you see the steamed bun a.k.a. Man Tou (馒头), what would cross your mind? For me, it will be Chilli crabs and Curry sauce. These two are always the best complements for the steamed bun, I would think. But, the usual Man Tou is a bit boring for me. Since I managed to find some pumpkin in the fridge, I decided to do the steamed pumpkin bun / man tou (南瓜馒头). For some, if you celebrate Halloween and have some left over pumpkin flesh, why not try your hands on this? It tastes good on its own without filling and natural colouring. And, I have a craving for croissants but do not have an oven. So, I shaped the buns into croissant shape.

Steamed Pumpkin Bun rollSome key takeaways from my experiences in doing up this bun:

1. Need to knead the dough adequately for the bun to be soft yet has the QQ texture. I used mix of hand and machine to knead, whereby I started with hand knead for 10 minutes then machine knead for 10 minutes and ended with hand knead for another approximately 10 minutes (as I have attended to my kids in between the 10 minutes). The reason for starting and ending with hand knead, so that I can feel the texture of the dough and it is never recommended to leave the job entirely to a machine.

2. As pumpkin has water therein after steamed, it is recommended not to add all the water at one go. You may add 50ml first then top up with 5-10ml if it is not wet enough. Usually after kneading for some time, the dough may get slightly wetter. If the dough is too wet, fret not, just add a bit more flour. Also, I added the oil after kneading for about 3-5 minutes. The oil will wet the dough.

3. Recommended to proof the dough the second time before steaming.

4. While it is steaming, do not open the steamer cover to check. Do ensure your steamer has adequate water. It is also not recommended to add water while steaming.

5. Use a steam cloth to cover the steamer cover if you aren’t use the bamboo steamer to prevent the water vipour from dripping onto the buns.

steamed cake

6. After steaming, do not open the steamer cover immediately. Let the buns sit inside for another 5 minutes.

In addition, for health purpose, I used virgin coconut oil. You may add some pandan leaves in the water for steaming which will add some pandan fragrance.

Have fun steaming!


  • Weighing scale
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • Steamer
  • Mixer machine / bread maker machine (optional)


  • 250g hong kong flour (flour to use for making bao) sifted
  • 1/2 + 1/4 tsp of Instant Yeast
  • 65ml of lukewarm water
  • 70g of pumpkin puree
  • 25g sugar
  • 2 tsp of cooking oil (I used virgin coconut oil)

steamed pumpkin bun


1. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and steam for 10 minutes or soft.

2. Mash the cooked pumpkin using the back of fork.

3. Put the instant yeast into 30-40 ml lukewarm water, for 5-10 minutes.

4. Sift the flour, then add sugar and yeast mixture. Mix well.

5. Add mashed pumpkin and knead till all mix well, for around 3-5 minutes.

6. Add 2 tsp of cooking oil and continue to knead for another 5-7 minutes or until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.

7. If you are using machine to knead, you can let the machine knead for 10 minutes (use the hook accessory) but do check occasionally that the dough is being kneaded properly by the machine. I do have problem with my machine in “under” kneading the dough. Also, the longer the dough is kneaded, the dough may become wetter so you may need to add more flour.

8. Remove the dough and hand knead for another 8-10 minutes, just to ensure the dough is not too wet or dry and has a stretchable texture. The dough shouldn’t stick onto your fingers, you can feel that the dough is still wet but not very wet and has a spongy-kind of texture. One way to check is to throw the dough into the mixing bowl from the mouth of the bowl, and you can remove it from the bowl easily without the dough sticking onto the base of the bowl. Remember to dust some flour on your hands if the dough is still sticky.

steamed pumpkin bun

Dough is ready for proofing

steamed pumpkin bun

Waiting for proofing to begin

9. Proof it for an hour. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth. Leave it in the warmest corner of your kitchen since we are in Singapore, any corner is warm unless you have an air-conditioner switched on in the area where you proof the dough. Do have a bowl big enough for the dough to rise double. The dough surface should have some bee-hives. Look at the picture.

steamed pumpkin bun

First proofing is done. See the bee-hives!

10. When the dough has risen, punch it to remove the air. Dust some flour onto the area where you will roll the dough. Roll the dough flat then cut it in triangular shape as per the picture.

steamed pumpkin bun

steamed pumpkin bun

11. Roll it from the base of the triangle up to the slimmest tip. There is the croissant shape.

steamed pumpkin bun

steamed pumpkin bun

steamed pumpkin bun

steamed pumpkin bun

12. Leave the bun for second proof, for 15 minutes. Then steam for 10-15 minutes depends on the size of the bun.

13. Off heat, leave them inside the steamer for 5 minutes before serve.

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