You can’t go wrong with matcha and red bean.
I tried using the water roux method for this bread (AKA tang zhong or 汤种/湯種). This is a technique mostly used in Asian breads, where the the flour and water is cooked first before adding to the dough.
This results in a soft, fluffy bun that you usually find in Asian bakeries (esp Hong Kong style ones). They’re a little sweeter and richer than Western style breads. Apparently they also stay softer and moister for longer.
Not that I would know since mine was finished within a day.
The dough basically resembles an enriched dough, but more elastic and very soft.
Matcha green tea and sweetened red beans (AKA azuki beans) is also a tried and tested combination in Japanese/Asian desserts. The slightly bitter flavour of the matcha complements the sweetness of the red beans really well.
If this is your first time seeing this kind of filling (it’s also known as anko) it really does not taste like the kidney beans or whatever beans you put in your chilli (well it’s still bean-y but it’s subtle and not in a savoury way). It’s sort of cinnamon-y but it doesn’t have cinnamon in it and the flavour’s just really unique (and very East Asian I’m getting massive nostalgia). Give it a try it’s really good.
Honestly, you get a soft bread but it didn’t taste that different from my usual enriched bread. Maybe I added too much flour (my weighing scale failed halfway and I had to guess the amount of flour to add), or I didn’t rise it enough, or I just used the wrong recipe. But it just didn’t reach the level of fluffiness I usually expect from Asian-style breads. I’d probably try a different recipe source next time.
Ingredients (makes 9)
- 28g plain flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk, slightly warmed (but definitely not hot to the touch)
- 1 large egg + 1 egg for egg wash
- 2 tsp instant yeast (6.3g, or 1 packet)
- 20g matcha powder
- 350g all-purpose flour
- 50g sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 42g butter, softened, cut into small pieces
- 400g anko/sweetened red bean paste
- White sesame seeds (for decorating)
- Mix the flour (28g) in water well until there are no lumps.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
- The mixture will get thicker. Once lines appear in the roux for every stir, it is ready.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm is sticking to the surface of the roux.
- Let cool to room temperature before using.
- Mix the milk, egg, yeast, and matcha powder together.
- Add 120g of the water roux and mix.
- Mix in the flour, sugar, and salt.
- When the ingredients come together, knead in the butter until smooth and elastic.
- Let proof till doubled in size (about 40 mins). Punch down, shape into 9 balls, and let rest for about 15 mins.
- Flour a work surface and your rolling pin well. Roll each ball out into a circle and add some red bean paste in the middle, and then close the dough around the filling. Roll the bun to shape it. You can pull on the surface of the bread and tuck the excess at the bottom to create a smooth top.
- Leave for a second proof (about 30 mins).
- Egg wash the bread, and sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top. Bake at 180°C for 30-35 mins until browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- The dough is a little wet and when you’re first kneading but just keep working at it and it’ll come together better.
- The dough also, for some reason, becomes easier to work with after the first proof.
- It’s better to let it proof to the description (ie doubled in size) rather than following the timings. The timings are just a guide and is very variable on other factors like temperature.
- The egg wash just gives the bread a better colour and shine.
- Use a good matcha powder! The good ones are usually in an opaque container and quite bright green in colour (and not as a result of additives). This was the one I used. It’s called Ujinotsuyu Matcha Hagoromo.