Known as hua juan, flower rolls are a variety of popular mantou (steamed buns) from northern China. They are often served with meat stews and saucy dishes in place of rice.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (24 votes)


  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 7 g (2 tsp) sachet dried yeast
  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • sesame oil, to brush

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 2 hours

Place sugar, yeast and 250 ml lukewarm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.

Place flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture. Stir until mixture forms a slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.

Dissolve baking powder with 2 tsp water. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until 2 cm thick. Add baking powder mixture to centre of dough, fold in sides and knead for 2 minutes or until smooth. Divide into 2 and roll out each piece into a 20 cm x 30 cm rectangle. Brush with sesame oil.

Starting from the long edge, roll up dough like a Swiss roll. Trim and discard ends. Cut each roll into 6. Using a chopstick, press down gently through centre of each roll until ends open up like flowers. Remove chopstick and place each roll on a small sheet of baking paper on a tray. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Steam flower rolls, in 2 batches, in a large bamboo steamer set over a pan of rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes. Serve warm.


Photography by Brett Stevens.         


As seen in Feast magazine, Jan 2012, Issue 5. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.