Five Ingredients, Flour • 面(miàn)

Steamed Bun/ Bread (发面馒头)

Years ago my husband asked me a question:

If you had to choose only one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

As an Italian, his answer was PIZZA! And as for me, who was born and raised in North China, I said: the steamed bun (大馒头)!

The steam bun has various forms. In the South China, it is usually in smaller size and with sweet taste. It is more served as a dessert or small bite Dim Sum (点心). While in the North we eat it as our main food. It serves the same purpose as rice, as such it is usually in big size and with the original taste of the wheat.

I used to eat so much this bun and I couldn’t imagine one day to live with it. And after 3 years living in Florence, and discovered that I absolutely cannot find the steam bun the way I liked anywhere here, I decided to make it my own!

Back to times while living in China, I wouldn’t think one day I need to learn how to make the steam bun at home, as it is so common as the air I breathe, and so convenient to buy. This is how adventurous living as an expat: you work out certain skill, which in the past you wouldn’t think it is even necessary to have.

Ingredients (for 8 buns)

  • Flour 500g
  • Water
  • Yeast



  1. Take 400g flour (you can choose to use only all purpose flour, or mix half of whole wheat flour as I did), mix it with yeast and water into a dough.
  2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put it into fridge for over-night fermentation.
  3. Next day take the dough out and let it ferment in room temperature for another 2 hours.
  4. Add the extra 100g flour into the fermented dough and neat until all dry flour is mixed into the dough.
  5. Divide the big dough into 8 portion, and neat each of them into a round shape bun.
  6. Put all the buns on a steamer rest for 1 hour before beginning to steam.
  7. After the water is boiled, keep the buns steamed for 20 minutes, then turn off the fire.
  8. Wait until the steam is dispersed then take off the cover.

Before vs. After



Et Voilà

Chinese steamed bun bread 发面馒头


The usual way of eating this steamed bun in North China is to company with some veggie/ meat dishes. But if you’d like to try some western/ fusion way of enjoy it, it absolutely works well too.

For example I also like to cut it in half and put some ham and salume inside to make it a sandwich. Or slice it and wrap it with egg and milk mixture and toast it on a pan with butter.

Chinese steamed bun bread 发面馒头
Sandwich: Bun with finocchiona salumi and cheese in the middle
Chinese steamed bun bread 发面馒头
French toast: bun slices soaked in egg & milk, then toasted on butter


Any other “fun & interesting” way to enjoy this steamed bun? Feel free to share it with me here!

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