Sunday, May 24, 2015

Making Rose-Shaped Pumpkin Mantou (Chinese Steamed Buns)

Yesterday, I got myself busy in the kitchen again and made pumpkin steamed rose buns. Few days ago, I bought a small pumpkin that I wanted to turn into a cake, bread or buns. After checking many recipes that use pumpkin as one of the main ingredients, I decided to make some pumpkin steamed buns (mantou).

Mantou is a Chinese style steamed buns with no filling. The texture is usually soft and fluffy and mantou doesn't taste very sweet. I think the methods in making mantou are quite similar to making the dough for baos.

I purposely wanted my mantou to look less boring hence the rose-shape. I never did any rose-shaped buns before so please excuse the not so perfect rose shape of these steamed buns.

Rose-shaped pumpkin mantou.

Here's the recipe that I used to make my pumpkin mantou yesterday.

Pumpkin Mantou


  • 250gr Pumpkin, steamed/boiled until tender and mashed
  • 40ml Cold fresh milk
  • 1 packet Instant yeast
  • 450gr Cake flour
  • 1 tbs Milk powder
  • 100gr Icing sugar
  • 1 tbs Margarine or butter, at room temperature
  • Some extra flour for kneading and rolling the dough
  • Baking papers, cut in square or circle shape


1. To make the dough: Sift together all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Mix well with a spoon.

2. Add the mashed pumpkin (that has been cooled down) to the dry ingredients. Mix well.

3. Pour cold milk to the mixture and knead the dough until it becomes almost elastic.

4. Add the margarine and some extra flour (if needed) to the dough and continue kneading until the dough becomes elastic and it doesn't stick to the bowl.

5. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 mins to 1 hour.

6. Once you see the dough has double or almost double in size, gently punch the dough to release the air.

7. Pour some flour on your working surface and rolling pins.

8. To make 2 rose buns: Take about 15gr of the dough and make them into small balls. Create 4 small dough balls to make 2 rose buns. Use a rolling pin to make them flat. Take a pinch of the dough to make a small log. Place the 4 flat doughs so that they overlap (see below image for better explanation). Place a chopstick in the middle of the of the thin doughs and pressed gently so they stick well. Put the small log dough to the end of the thin doughs and roll everything up. Halve the dough using a knife and place each on top of cut baking papers. Repeat the above steps for the rest of the dough.

How to make the rose buns.

9. Let the rose buns to proof again for about 15 minutes.

Mantou ready for smesauna.

10. Place the rose buns onto a hot steamer and steam for about 15-20 minutes.

See how the mantou size changes after I steamed them.

**The above recipe yields about 16-18 medium buns.

These pumpkin steamed buns are not that difficult to make but I must admit, it was a bit troublesome and time consuming to create the rose shape, especially if you have a toddler kept looking for your attention or companion while you already had your hands covered with flour in the kitchen.

Anyhow, these buns tasted great and fluffy. I was quite happy with my first attempt in making mantou without any kneading machine. Just like baos, these steamed buns are best eaten warm as their texture hardens when they're cold. You can keep them in the fridge and enjoy them on the next day after you heat them in a steamer for few minutes.

P/S: No need to cover your working surface with too much flour like in above picture when creating the rose buns. I accidentally poured too much flour onto my working surface when I was about to do my last batch of rose buns.

First Teacher's Day Celebration

Teacher's Day in Malaysia is celebrated annually on May 16th.

I didn't know that.

Last Thursday evening when I picked Naomi up from her school, one of her teachers told me that the school would be celebrating Teacher's Day on the next day (last Friday). The teachers encouraged parents to bathe the kids and dress them in a nice outfit for the celebration. She then mentioned that Teacher's Day gifts were optional. The moment I heard about 'giving the gift' part, my head started thinking "Oh, for Teacher's Day, the kids must present gifts to teachers ah?" I didn't know this because my friends and I never gave any appreciation gifts to our teachers during our schooling days in Indonesia. At most, we solemnly and wholeheartedly sang Teacher's Hymn (Hymne Guru) during Teacher's Day. #cultureshock

Anyway, when I got back home that evening, I began googling Teacher's Day gifts ideas frantically. I also read articles on gifts idea for teachers and what they usually appreciate most. In summary, the articles said that teachers tend to appreciate gifts that have personal touch from their students like personalized hand-made cards or something. That night, I asked my husband to bring me to the nearby supermarket as I wanted to check if I could find anything nice for Naomi's teachers.

I browsed and browsed the crafts and stationery sections of the shop. I almost bought some DIY crafts for the teacher but I cancelled this idea because by the time we left the shop, it was going to be late night and I surely won't have the concentration and energy to make 5 crafts.

In the end, I just bought some cute notepads for Naomi's teachers and wrote something nice on the notepads. I don't know how Naomi's teachers would appreciate these very humble and simple gifts from us.

I also left another hand-written notes inside the notepads for each teacher.

The next day, I found out that some parents actually prepared some nice gifts for the teachers and wrapped them in nice wrapping papers. Some even bought a cake for the celebration and brought over some pies and big boxes full off customized cupcakes for the teachers and kids. Wah piang! I wish I knew better. For a moment, I felt that my prepared gifts were too minuscule for the teachers and I should have bought something bigger and nicer for them. But I guess Naomi's teachers are not that calculative and I am quite certain that they value whatever they got on that happy day.

A very pink mermaid with a very bright blue balloon during the celebration.

I promise I will prepare something better for next year's celebration!

Naomi presenting her gifts to her teachers.
 All the teachers looked so happy that day.

By the way, I didn't show the gifts to Naomi until the next morning when I sent her to her school because I didn't want my little miss curious tear or make ugly scribbles on the notepads.

Last but not least, deep inside, I actually enjoyed preparing gifts or stuffs for celebrations that are organized by Naomi's school. I really consider this as one of the perks of being a Mom!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Making Soft and Fluffy Potato Donuts

Four years ago, I made my first potato donuts with my husband. It was my first time making donuts from scratch. I cannot really remember much of how my first home-made donuts tasted but yesterday I thought of experimenting with making potato donuts once again, using a different recipe.

I spent my Sunday afternoon playing with flour, eggs, yeast, milk and few other things. Then, I gave all of them pretty good massages and other treatments. Less than 3 hours later, a tray of warm fluffy donuts was served on the table.

Hello, fluffy potato donuts.

Here's the recipe that I used for making my potato donuts yesterday, adapted from various online recipes.

Soft and Fluffy Potato Donuts

  • 80gr Icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 35gr Margarine
  • 50ml Cold water
  • 250gr Flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp Milk powder
  • 1 pack Instant yeast
  • 125gr Potatoes, steamed and mashed 
  • Extra flour for dusting
  • Oil to fry
  • Icing sugar to coat donuts

  1. Place icing sugar, salt, flour, baking soda, milk powder, vanilla powder and instant yeast in a big bowl. Mix these dry ingredients well by using spoon.
  2. Put mashed potatoes (that is already cooled down), eggs and cold water onto the dry ingredients. Mix well and knead with hand until everything is incorporated and almost elastic.
  3. Add margarine and some extra flour (if needed) and continue kneading the dough until it becomes elastic and doesn't stick to the bowl.
  4. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for about 15-30 minutes.
  5. Once you see the dough becomes double in size, softly punch the raised dough to release the air then slightly knead it again.
  6. Roll the dough in a working surface that is already dusted with some flour. Cut the dough into round shapes and make a hole in the middle. 
  7. Place the donuts in a tray and let them rest for another 40 min or 1 hour.
  8. Heat oil and deep fry donuts for about 2 minutes or until golden brown using medium fire.
  9. Let the freshly fried donuts cool a bit before generously coating them with icing sugar or decorate them with your choice of toppings.
** The above recipe yields 18 medium-sized donuts.

So good when served warm.

The donuts I made yesterday were yummy and I was very happy with the final result. They are crispy on the outside but very soft and fluffy on the inside. My husband ate about 6 donuts yesterday and he gave my donuts 9/10 marks. I brought some donuts over to MIL's house then my Bro-in-Law took one donut upstairs. Less than 5 minutes later, he came down and took 2 more donuts to be enjoyed with his hot Milo upstairs. He told my husband "好吃一下“.

Family favourite.

Compared to my virgin attempt in making potato donuts years ago, I was way less anxious in kneading the dough yesterday. I enjoyed every step of making the donuts from zero and patiently waited the dough to proof by doing other house chores. This way, the whole processes of making home made donuts didn't feel that long, considering that the dough needs to be proofed twice before frying them.

Also, at one point, I was contemplating whether I should bake the donuts instead of frying them because baking them means healthier sweet treats. However, an instagram friend said baked donuts don't taste as good as fried donuts so I fried these classic round delicacies. Anyway, these donuts taste great on the day you make them but their texture becomes hard and dense, basically they're not delicious anymore, when consumed on the next day.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mother's Day Celebration at School

Few days ago, I received a notification from Naomi's teachers that they were organizing a Mommy-Kid breakfast session at school to celebrate this year's Mother's Day and they encouraged Mothers to participate. Mothers were asked to prepare breakfast from home and bring it over to school.

Truth be told, I was very happy when I saw the invite and looked forward to attending it (in fact, I had been waiting for this moment when Naomi just started her school about three months back). I had always wondered how the teachers at Naomi's school celebrate Mother's Day with kids and I was intrigued by the potential Mother's Day's gift that Naomi would prepare for me with the help of her teachers.

Naomi is not a fan of bread or cookies or cereal for breakfast hence I purposely prepared something that she would likely eat during the event this morning. For breakfast with Naomi at school, I opted to cook simple fried noodle last night and heated it before packing it this morning. I also bothered to make a thin fried egg then cut it to garnish our breakfast boxes. Talk about efforts.

Our breakfast box.

So the awaited day finally came.

When I arrived to the school at around 8.30am, I was presented with Mother's Day card that Naomi made yesterday. Can you see the heart shape Naomi tried to make with her hand prints? The teacher asked us to take photo with it but Naomi refused to do so because she acted particularly shy this morning when she noticed there were so many strangers at school today.

Sweet Mother's Day card from my girl. #heartmelt

The first thing I noticed when I saw the other participating Moms this morning was "Eh, why nobody brought hot meal for their breakfast box?" I briefly looked around and apparently only Naomi and I would be eating noodle. Other Moms brought cupcakes, cakes, roll cakes or bread for themselves and their kids.

Me and my gift.

The Mommy-Kid breakfast went pretty smoothly. Naomi didn't create drama and she finished her noodle. I, however, did not manage to eat my own noodle as I was busy feeding Naomi. Honestly, I was a bit ashamed of eating my noodle breakfast while other Moms simply nibbled on the bread or cake that they were sharing with their tots. I mean how could I eat my big portion of hot fried noodle (I packed a double portion of Naomi's noodle for my own breakfast box) whilst other mothers only ate like just a tiny bit of bread or cakes from their breakfast box? To steer clear of fellow Moms' thinking that I went too overboard with this breakfast event, I refrained taking out my breakfast box from my bag and just took out Naomi's.

This was so good, better than Deli France's.

Luckily, Naomi's teachers distributed yummy fruit pies to for all of us and I was somewhat saved from my hunger pangs. The pie was so good that I almost asked for one more but I cancelled my idea because I already ate mine and Naomi's. Naomi only ate the fruit topping so I ate the pies.

Anyway, the breakfast event was short yet delightful. I left the school shortly after the kids started singing the national anthems. God, I admired these kids' energy and dedication when they sang Negaraku. They sang, or rather screamed, the anthem wholeheartedly.

And oh, I ate my noodle when I got home.

Now... What I would get from Naomi for Mother's Day next year?