Chinese buns (baozi or mantou) typically are small bread or bread roll that can be either sweet or savoury and most common methods of cooking these buns are steamed, baked or even deep fried. The resulting bread dough is usually light and fluffy. There are myriad types of buns with different types of sweet or savoury flavours and fillings according to personal creativity and preferences in taste. These Chinese buns can be stuffed with meat or vegetarian and/or vegan options. They are perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, snack, dessert or even as a meal by itself. My inspiration for this baked pumpkin buns came from the popular Chinese steamed pumpkin buns (mantou). There is also another popular Chinese restaurant version of deep fried pumpkin buns filled with red bean paste filling. For my gluten free recipe, I have made my own soy free bread dough mix with added mashed pumpkin and these buns are stuffed with cinnamon pumpkin filling, resulting in an aromatic, soft and delicious buns. Most ready made gluten free bread flour mix have soy flour in them. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, soy free, nut free, egg free, refined sugar free and allergy friendly.
Pumpkins belong to the genre of plants known as Cucurbita with lengthy sprawling stems. These plants also include squashes and marrows. Pumpkins originated from North America. The seeds from similar plants were found in Mexico all the way back in 7000 to 5500 B.C. Pumpkins are very handy food ingredients in many different types of cuisines all around the world. They can be featured in soups, salads, jam or preserves, desserts and even as an alternative to butter or oil in baking. Almost the whole of the pumpkins can be eaten, including the flesh, seeds, flowers and leaves. Pumpkins are also a popular food staple and ornaments during Halloween and Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada.
Pumpkins are bursting with powerful nutritional values, not only rich in dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it is a fantastic source of protein for vegetarians and vegans and has very low calories. They also comprise beta and alpha carotene which provide them their colour and are an exceptional source of essential minerals and vitamins. Pumpkins are excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C. A good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. They also contain small amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid/folate, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B3 (niacin), magnesium, iron and phosphorus. Pumpkin kernels/seeds (also called pepitas seeds) are also robust sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. They are an exceptional source of iron and zinc and also a good source of selenium and vitamin B3 (niacin). In addition, these pumpkin seeds are a superb source of health promoting essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan assists in controlling mood with naturally soothing outcomes, promotes sleep and ease anxiety. Health benefits of pumpkin include: help regulate blood pressure; may reduce risks associated with cardiovascular disease; promote healthy eyes and skin; boosts the immune system; reduce risks of colon and prostate cancer; aid in weight loss; lower risks of diabetes and promote better sleep and improve mood.
Baked Pumpkin Buns with Cinnamon Pumpkin Filling
- Some vegan butter for greasing the doughnut pans
For the dough:
- 300 g 10.6oz rice flour
- 100 g 3.5oz potato flour
- 50 g 1.8oz gluten free corn (maize) starch
- 40 g 1.4oz tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon xantham gum
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 300 g 10.6oz pumpkin flesh, cut into 2 inch pieces
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
- 500 ml rice milk
For the Cinnamon Pumpkin Filling:
- 600 g 1.32Ib/21.2oz pumpkin flesh, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 50 g 1.8oz gluten free corn (maize) starch
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 100 ml rice milk
- 4 tablespoons agave syrup
For the Toppings:
- 5 tablespoons pumpkin kernels/seeds pepitas seeds
- 2 non-stick 12 cup muffin pans
For cooking the pumpkin:
- Heat up a large wok half filled with water, place a large plate over a steaming rack in the wok and add all the pumpkin pieces. Cover with lid and steam on medium heat for 10 minutes or until all the pumpkin pieces are soft.
- Remove plate and place all the pumpkins in a large bowl, mash well with a potato masher.
For preparing the dough:
- In another large bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk. Make a well in the middle.
- Then add 300g (10.6oz) of the mashed pumpkin prepared in step 1 & 2 into the well.
- Warm the rice milk in a small pot for around 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add in the extra virgin olive oil and agave syrup and mix well. Pour the rice milk mixture into the well.
- Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined. The dough will resemble thick creamy ice cream.
- Cover the dough with cling wrap and let the dough rest on the benchtop for 1 hour.
For the cinnamon pumpkin filling:
- Mix the gluten free corn (maize) starch with the rice milk.
- Heat up a frying pan, combine and mix well the rest of the mashed pumpkins prepared in steps 1 & 2 with the corn starch mixture and all other ingredients for the filling on low to medium heat until mixture is smooth and has thickened.
- Remove the frying pan from heat and set aside.
- Serve the remaining extra pumpkin filling with the buns.
For stuffing the dough:
- Grease all the muffin pans well with some vegan better.
- Scoop and place small amount of wet dough into the bottom of each cup of the muffin pan until ⅓ full.
- Then place 1 tablespoon of cinnamon pumpkin filling into the centre of each muffin pan, gently flatten slightly.
- Fill each muffin pan with the rest of wet dough until nearly the edge. Use a small spoon to even out the top of the dough.
- Place some pumpkin kernels/seeds (pepitas seeds) onto the top of each dough.
- Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes.
For cooking the bun:
- Pre-heat fan-forced oven to 190C or 375F. Bake the buns for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Then let the buns rest for 5 minute before removing from pans. Place the cooked buns on a cooling rack.
- Reheat by covering the buns with aluminium paper and bake in the oven for 5 minutes or in microwave for 40 seconds or until buns are soft.