Shiro Anpan (Buns with Sweetened White Bean Paste)

Continuing to live vicariously through food. In this case compensating for not actually being in Japan.

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This sticky mucus-y water roux is the first step to making fluffy Asian-style bread. I was a bit weirded out by it at first but the results are goooood.

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And no, I don’t have two of the same bowl, I just combined two images to save on the limited memory allocated to me with my free wordpress account (student life). I don’t even know why I thought it was important to show both images.

But moving on.

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I had some leftover sweetened white bean paste (shiro-an) from my attempt at wagashi and read that shiro anpan’s a thing. I eat normal anpan (with sweetened red bean paste) all the time in Singapore, so I was really excited to try this variation on it. I thought that the shiro-an had a bit of a lighter and more delicate flavour than normal sweetened red bean paste.

By the way, sweetened bean paste is a common thing in East Asian desserts. Some of my (non East Asian) friends get a bit weirded out by the idea of it but give it a try!

And now, a lovely 3 image collage detailing the rise (and rise) of my bread. Enjoy.

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Well, that was fascinating.

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Oh yeah check out that pull.

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And here is me trying to make a cross-section shot of my bread look aesthetic but failing abysmally.

I got the recipe for the bean paste from here, and used my standard Asian bread dough recipe originally detailed here.

Ingredients (makes 8 buns)

Shiro-an (sweetened white bean paste)

  • 1 can cannellini beans (235g dried weight)
  • 75g granulated sugar

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 310g bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)
  • Some white sesame seeds to decorate

Method

Shiro-an

  1. Drain the beans thoroughly and mash through a strainer. Apparently this step is easier if you skin the beans first but it was honestly a pain and it was easier to just start mashing and pick out the skins as you go. I ended up with about 190g of strained beans.
  2. Put the strained beans in a saucepan and add the sugar. Stir until thickened. The paste will cool down as it cools.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and then roll each ball flat, with the edges a bit flatter than the middle (makes it easier to close).
  5. Divide your shiro-an into 8, and place each divided portion into the middle of the dough disc (if you think it’d make it easier to handle, freeze each portion of shiro-an first. But note that this will retard the second rise). Close the dough around the filling, and seal well. Shape each bun into the ball shape (see notes). Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
  6. After doubled in size, create a egg wash with the leftover egg yolk and a splash of leftover cream. Brush over the top of the buns. Decorate with some white sesame seeds.
  7. Bake at 200ºC for 13-15 mins, or until golden brown.

Notes

  • This video shows pretty much how I shape my buns. It’s potato quality and out of focus but eh you get the general idea from it.
  • Heavy cream is also known as double cream or whipping cream.
  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature.
  • It’s important to oil the clingfilm to cover the bread or the bread will stick to the clingfilm and you’ll lose some of the volume in the bread when removing the clingfilm. That’s a lot of clingfilm in one sentence.
  • I’ve made matcha green tea buns containing sweetened red bean paste as well! But the dough from this recipe’s nicer. Life is a never-ending pursuit of knowledge.
  • Also. No, housemate-who-shall-not-be-named-and-shamed, my cover photo does not look like anal beads. Get your head out of the gutter.
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Peach Nerikiri (Japanese Sweet Bean Paste Confectionery)

Or how to waste 1.5 hours of your life mashing beans.

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It’s Hina-Matsuri today in Japan! Or Girls’ Day/Doll Festival.

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I’ve always wanted to try making wagashi, or traditional Japanese confections. And since Hina-Matsuri is also called Momo-no-Sekku (Peach Festival), I thought it’d be perfect to start off simple with some basic nerikiri shaped like a peach.

This is a really dumbed-down recipe and the technique is probably not traditional in the slightest. But hey gotta start somewhere.

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Don’t mind this awkwardly placed ball of clingfilm.

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Nerikiri is made of shiro-an (sweetened white bean paste) mixed with some shiratamako (mochi flour, see notes). If you’ve tried red bean paste before, I feel like shiro-an has a bit of a more delicate flavour, and is less earthy.

Also although mochi flour is mixed in, it really does not have the texture of mochi. It legitimately tastes like sweetened beans mushed together, which is a common motif in Asian desserts. If you’ve not tried sweetened bean paste before I recommend giving it a try, it opens up a whole new world of dessert.

If the peaches at the back looks uglier, that’s because they were made by me and not my more artistic housemate.

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This peach nerikiri is also cute because it looks like a butt.

I combined the recipes from here and here.

Ingredients (makes 3)

Shiro-an (sweetened white bean paste)

  • 1 can cannellini beans (235g dried weight)
  • 75g granulated sugar

Nerikiri

  • 150g shiro-an
  • 12g shiratamako (mochi flour/sweet glutinous rice flour, see notes)
  • 20g water
  • Red food colouring
  • Leaves for decorating (I used watercress, lol)

Method

Shiro-an

  1. Drain the beans thoroughly and mash through a strainer. Apparently this step is easier if you skin the beans first but it was honestly a pain and it was easier to just start mashing and pick out the skins as you go. I ended up with about 190g of strained beans.
  2. Put the strained beans in a saucepan and add the sugar. Stir until thickened. The paste will cool down as it cools.

Nerikiri

  1. Mix the shiratamako with the water in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat until dissolved and well heated.
  2. Add in the shiro-an and mix until thickened to a mouldable consistency. If it’s still not mouldable after a while gradually add more shiratamako until mouldable.
  3. Separate 2/3 of the dough and set aside. Add some food colouring to the remaining 1/3 of the dough until it’s a light pink.
  4. Place a piece of clingfilm onto a work surface. Add a piece of white dough onto the clingfilm, and a smaller piece of the pink dough next to it. Gather the loose ends of the clingfilm into a ball and mould into a peach shape (or if you suck at crafting like me, get your housemate to do it). Use the clingfilm and a back of a spoon to help smooth the surface out.
  5. Use the back of a knife to indent the dough midway, creating the seam of the peach.
  6. Use any appropriate leaves for decoration. You should probably not eat them together with the nerikiri it’s just to look pretty.

Notes

  • I used a Chinese type of glutinous rice flour, and did not reach the desired mouldable consistency with the amounts recommended. Just needed a bit more to reach the right texture. It’s probably because mochi flour may be slightly different and more appropriate, so I’d recommend going for that if it’s available.
  • If you like sweet beans like me, here are some green tea buns with sweetened red bean filling that I’ve made before.
  • I actually made twice the amount of shiro-an as listed in this recipe (for an upcoming recipe!), that’s why I took 1.5 hours. I was also watching some serious anime so you’d probably take less time than me don’t be alarmed.

Fluffy Japanese-style Pancakes

It’s Pancake Day!!

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My exams are finally over which means it’s time to eat my (happy) feelings.

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Apparently the key ingredient here is Japanese mayonnaise. Some people seem repulsed by the idea of mayonnaise (they don’t know what they’re missing out on), but okay let’s break it down. Mayonnaise is just mainly oil and egg mixed up (and maybe a little MSG but hey that’s just more flavour), so adding mayonnaise is just making your life easier by mixing the oil and egg first.

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Gotta arrange that pancake stack to hide the fact that I can’t make pancakes of the same size.

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Making my housemate pour syrup #forthegram. Don’t mind her arm shadow.

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And here’s how the texture looks like inside. And also the recommended ratio of butter to pancake.

I got the recipe from here, just skipped the lemon juice. I really liked this recipe! Thought the pancakes did turn out fluffy, like it promised. Did not quite reach the volume reached in the original recipe, but I feel like that could be down to (my lack of) technique.

Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 2 eggs
  • 100g plain yoghurt
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 10g Japanese mayonnaise (I used Kewpie mayonnaise)
  • 70g self raising flour
  • 5g baking powder

Methods

  1. Separate the egg yolk and the egg whites into two different bowls.
  2. Mix the yogurt, icing sugar, mayonnaise, and egg yolk together.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mixture and mix well.
  4. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk batter (being careful not to over-mix).
  6. Drop a spatula spoonful of the batter into a non-stick frying pan (lightly oiled if you’re not feeling too confident about the non-stickiness) over medium-low heat and cook it until bubbles start forming in the center of the pancake.
  7. Flip them over and then cook for about 2 minutes or until both sides are browned.

Notes

  • My pancakes browned more evenly when I had less oil in the pan, not sure if it was because those pancakes were the later ones though (and the first few pancakes are always the ugliest).

Hōjicha and Honey Ice Cream (Roasted Green Tea Ice Cream)

The smokey, lightly tannic flavour of hōjicha is tamed by the mellow sweetness of honey and the richness of cream. A lot of cream.

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Let me start off by showing off how fresh my egg yolks were.

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Hōjicha is basically roasted green tea, and this roasting process gives a slightly toasted flavour to the tea. It tastes less bitter, and is also overall lighter on the tongue.

It also supposedly has less caffeine than regular green tea but eh.

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I’ve wanted to make hōjicha ice cream ever since my trip to Hokkaido. I thought that green tea would be the default tea served there, but turns out hōjicha seemed to be more popular.

Also, who needs a whisk when you have a chopstick. Just the one.

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You end up with a beautifully rich ice cream – luscious, creamy, and smooth. The overnight cold infusion of the tea leaves also results in a more delicate flavour, so you get an intense flavour without the bitterness of over-steeped tea.

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The base recipe is the same as the one in my Matcha Ice Cream, which was based off one of icecreamscience‘s recipes.

Ingredients

  • 417g double cream (see notes)
  • 319g semi-skimmed milk
  • 46g skimmed milk powder
  • 120g sugar
  • 78g egg yolks (about 4 eggs)
  • 6 hōjicha tea bags
  • 1-2 tbsp honey

Method

  1. Mix yolks, sugar, skimmed milk powder vigorously together in a large saucepan. This is to stop the yolks from curdling.
  2. Mix in the cream and milk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. You’re aiming to hold the mixture at about 71°C for about 20 mins to reduce the mixture by 15% by weight. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just try to hold the mixture at the point when it’s steaming slightly (not too much and DEFINITELY not at a boil) and reduce it till it coats the back of your spoon. If you overheat your mixture you will get an eggy hydrogen sulfide taste.
  4. Transfer the ice cream mixture to a large container and add in your hōjicha tea leaves (if using tea bags cut open the bags). Add in the honey, and mix.
  5. Cool the mixture down as fast as you can, preferably by cooling it in a container in an ice bath. Once it’s cool put it in the fridge to age overnight. This is to reduce the bacteria growing so the ice cream keeps for longer, as well as to allow the flavour of the tea to infuse.
  6. The next day, sieve the mixture. Press the remaining tea leaves against the sift to get the last bits of flavour out.
  7. Put the sieved ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine.
  8. When the ice cream reaches the texture desired, stop churning and immediately store your ice cream in the freezer set at the lowest temperature (orrr you could just eat it straight away).
  9. To eat, allow to thaw for 10 mins first.

Notes

  • If you know the fat percentage of the cream you’re using, you can use other cream. Go to icecreamscience’s original blog post to calculate the adjusted recipe amounts (he has an excel sheet).
  • Holding the ice cream at 71°C makes the proteins in the milk undergo reversible unfolding which contributes to the creamy texture of the ice cream.
  • If your freezer can’t go as low as -18°C (like mine), I recommend eating the ice cream within a day or two. It can get icy if you can’t store it at low enough temperatures.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

One of my favourite flavours of ice cream!

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I’m just obsessed with matcha-flavoured desserts. The slight bitterness of it together with its fresh flavour works really well in sweet stuff.

I’ve always liked my matcha ice cream to be a little on the bitter side. But some people don’t really like that, so I think the amount of sugar used in this recipe is a happy compromise.

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I’ve basically been exclusively using recipes from icecreamscience because the ice cream that I get is just unbelievably smooth and creamy.

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This is essentially the same recipe as my previous lemon curd ice cream, but with slightly less sugar and replacing the lemon curd with matcha powder.

Ingredients

  • 417g double cream (see notes)
  • 319g semi-skimmed milk
  • 46g skimmed milk powder
  • 120g sugar
  • 78g egg yolks (about 4 eggs)
  • 20g matcha powder

Method

  1. Mix yolks, sugar, skimmed milk powder, and matcha powder vigorously together in a large saucepan. This is to stop the yolks from curdling.
  2. Mix in the cream and milk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. You’re aiming to hold the mixture at about 71°C for about 20 mins to reduce the mixture by 15% by weight. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just try to hold the mixture at the point when it’s steaming slightly (not too much and DEFINITELY not at a boil) and reduce it till it coats the back of your spoon. If you overheat your mixture you will get an eggy hydrogen sulfide taste.
  4. Cool the mixture down as fast as you can, preferably by cooling it in a container in an ice bath. Once it’s cool put it in the fridge to age overnight. This is to reduce the bacteria growing so the ice cream keeps for longer.
  5. The next day, put the ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine.
  6. When the ice cream reaches the texture desired, stop churning and immediately store your ice cream in the freezer set at the lowest temperature (orrr you could just eat it straight away).
  7. To eat, allow to thaw for 10 mins first.

Notes

  • If you know the fat percentage of the cream you’re using, you can use other cream. Go to icecreamscience’s original blog post to calculate the adjusted recipe amounts (he has an excel sheet).
  • Holding the ice cream at 71°C makes the proteins in the milk undergo reversible unfolding which contributes to the creamy texture of the ice cream.
  • If your freezer can’t go as low as -18°C (like mine), I recommend eating the ice cream within a day or two. It can get icy if you can’t store it at low enough temperatures.