kefir mantou

kefir mantou

I love plain mantou. I think you can guess how much I love them from the number of recipes I have on this blog for mantou. Ha.

These mantou are different. Have you heard of water kefir and milk kefir? In researching for types of yogurt that sets at room temperature, I chanced upon the wonderful world of kefir. Kefir grains are a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria, which helps our digestive system. As I read more on kefir, I got pretty excited enough to want to try.

The office where I work has no windows. The building structure is such that the offices on levels 4 and 5 are built deep within the building. The air ventilation system is poorly maintained and whatever viruses one colleague has is always transmitted around the office. In the 8 years of working here, I’ve caught plenty of viruses. Worst of the lot, if there is a ranking, is the stomach flu virus. Before entering this office, I’ve never suffered a single bout of stomach flu virus. Now, I’ve survived (barely) several rounds of battle.

The funny thing we noticed about this virus is, once it has invaded your body and you have succumbed to it, your digestive system is never the same. After eating, I’d be burping and burping. Some days, I’d get so bloated up with gas I expect to float. Ha! These symptoms stay, even after recovery, for at least 3 months. The situation is aggravated sometimes by the introduction of another strain of stomach flu virus brought in by another colleague. It’s a vicious cycle.

I ate yogurt to try to improve the good bacteria in my system. There was marked improvement but I still caught the occasional stomach flu floating around. Enter kefir.

I bought both water and milk kefir grains from a lady in Kuala Lumpur. The precious grains were then carried back by my colleague and cultivation started. Within the first week of consuming both water and milk kefir, I noted a marked improvement in my skin. The eczema I was suffering from at that time healed. By the second week, I felt more energy and better than I’ve felt in years. Bloating was history! Woohoo!

Kefir is different from yogurt as it contains yeasts, besides lactic acid bacteria. Hence kefir can be used to make bread! I succeeded using kefir water to make mantou. I will experiment more with milk kefir.

Kefir mantou


  • 200 grams HK/pau flour
  • 150 grams kefir water
  1. Mix both well and ferment for 10 hours at room temperature.

Main dough

  • 430 grams HK/pau flour
  • 120 ml kefir water
  • 50 grams castor sugar
  • 2 grams salt
  • 40 ml canola oil
  1. Place all ingredients, including preferment, in the bread mixer. Mix until dough comes together.
  2. Add oil. Knead until window pane stage.
  3. Prepare enough water in the steamer to boil for 30 minutes.
  4. Weigh and shape mantou. Place shaped mantou on a small piece of pau or parchment paper and arrange in the steamer. Leave some space for expansion.
  5. Ferment for 4 hours, covered, in the steamer.
  6. Start boiling the water in the steamer on medium heat. When water boils and you can see steam coming out of the steamer, set the timer for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat. Open the lid by a small crack and leave for 3 minutes before removing mantou.

kefir mantou1

Kefir water

  • 2-3 tablespoons water kefir grains
  • 1.2 litres non-chlorinated water
  • 150 grams demerara sugar
  1. Mix water with sugar in a 1.5 litre glass jar, until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add in kefir grains.
  3. Ferment at room temperature for 24 hours.
  4. Remove kefir grains by straining with a plastic strainer. Strain the grains over a 1.5 litre air-tight glass jar.
  5. You can start a new batch of kefir water by repeating steps 1-3.
  6. In the meantime, the water from step 4 can go through a secondary fermentation.
  7. Add in any fruits or juice to your fancy. Close the lid and make sure it is air-tight. Ferment for up to 72 hours. The longer you ferment, the more gassy the kefir water.


The kefir water I used was flavored with roselle flowers. The taste and smell of the roselle flowers were entirely gone from the mantou.

Since I’m living in Singapore, fermentation does not take long. Within 24 hours, some small bubbles can be seen on the surface. I use a muslin bag to keep the kefir during fermentation, which makes removal from the water or milk easier. The only worry when using a bag is, it must be fully submerged and checked for mold frequently.

The mantou are fabulously soft and fluffy, even when cold. I love the taste! I love my kefir! Happy! 🙂


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