Matcha Turtle Melon Pan (Turtle Shaped Bread)

The cutest.

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I’ve made melon pan before, and now it’s time to LEVEL UP.

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They grow up so fast.

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Melon pan is basically bread covered with a cookie dough, giving the bread added sweetness and crunch. It doesn’t contain melon, it just kinda looks like one?

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It’s kind of similar to concept to Hong Kong’s pineapple buns or Mexico’s conchas.

I used black sesame seeds for the eyes because I didn’t want to deal with chocolate melting in the summer heat.

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Shhhh they’re having a meeting.

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Here’s a gruesome cut straight through the turtle.

The turtle shell recipe is from Cooking with Dog, and the bread recipe is the recipe I always use for Asian-style bread.

Ingredients (makes 7 large buns)

Tangzhong

  • 125g white bread flour
  • 100g water

Bread

  • 280g full fat milk
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 15g honey
  • 20g sugar
  • 410g white bread flour
  • 8g sweetened condensed milk
  • 10g salt
  • 40g softened unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Black sesame seeds

Cookie dough

  • 50g softened unsalted butter
  • 70g sugar (plus some extra to coat)
  • 50g beaten egg
  • 160g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp matcha powder

Method

Tangzhong (starter, prepare the night before baking)

  1. Place the white bread flour in a large bowl.
  2. Boil some water, and pour 100g of the water into the bowl.
  3. Mix with a large spoon until well mixed. When cool enough to touch, knead the tangzhong well until all the flour is well incorporated and the dough ball is smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Bread

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, yeast, honey, sugar, bread flour, sweetened condensed milk, and tangzhong. Knead well until smooth.
  2. Add the salt. Knead until the salt is well incorporated.
  3. Add the softened butter and knead until the bread reaches windowpane stage.
  4. Cover and let the bread rise until doubled in size (about 1h).
  5. While the bread is rising, make the cookie dough (recipe below).
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, knock down the dough.
  7. Weigh the dough and split into 8 pieces (the extra bun is for the head and legs of the turtle).
  8. Shape 7 of the pieces into rounds.
  9. Roll out the cookie dough and cut out rounds of cookie dough large enough to cover the buns (I used about 26g of cookie dough per bun). Coat each cookie dough round with some sugar.
  10. Cover each bun with a round of cookie dough (this might be easier to do if you roll out each round on some cling film).
  11. Cut criss-cross patterns onto the cookie dough.
  12. Pinch off a bit of dough from the last bread dough piece to form the head of the turtle. Pinch off four smaller pieces for the legs. Place the dough pieces under the “body” piece.
  13. Place two black sesame seeds on the head for the turtle’s eyes. Press the sesame seeds in gently so it stays in place.
  14. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 40 mins). Meanwhile preheat the oven to 170°C.
  15. When the buns have doubled in size, bake for about 15-18 mins, or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the buns.
  16. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  17. Eat within the day preferably, as the cookie dough softens over time.

Cookie dough

  1. Whisk the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar to butter and beat it until fluffy and pale.
  2. Gradually add the egg to the sugar/butter mixture. (Wet ingredients)
  3. In another bowl, add the baking powder and matcha powder to the cake flour and sift it. (Dry ingredients)
  4. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix. Add the next third. Mix. Then add the last of the dry ingredients. Mix. (Don’t over-mix)
  5. Shape the dough into a cylinder shape in clingfilm. Put in the fridge until ready to use.

Notes

  • This is the melon the bread is supposed to resemble. Yeah I kinda don’t really see it.
  • When dividing the dough, it’s much easier to use a weighing scale so you get evenly sized buns (nobody likes uneven buns).
  • 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.
  • If you’re using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, you might have to activate the yeast first. Warm up the milk that was supposed to go into the bread till it’s about body temperature, and then add the yeast into the milk. When the mixture is foamy (about 5-10 mins later), add the yeast-milk back into the bread at the step where the milk is supposed to be added.
  • Kneading the butter into the dough after it’s already been formed helps with the structure of the bread, since butter inhibits gluten formation (apparently).
  • Letting the tangzhong sit overnight is technically optional, but it gives a much better flavour if you allow the tangzhong to rest.
  • If my cookie dough doesn’t look like it’s covered in sugar…it’s because I forgot that step. And so my bread noticeably didn’t have the extra crunch that the sugar would have given.
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Warabi Mochi

I suck at buying presents, so usually I just make something edible (which means I get to eat the “present” as well). But when I asked my sister what she wanted for her birthday, she replied with warabi mochi, a traditional Japanese confectionery which required loads of specialty ingredients. Of course she did.

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I didn’t have a small enough container so I had to shove the mochi into a corner of my brownie tin and balance everything with a measuring jug. That’s lateral thinking.

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Warabi mochi is a soft, jelly-like dessert that’s quite different from normal mochi, in that it has more of a gelatinous texture rather than a chewy one. I personally prefer warabi mochi, especially the more traditional ones actually made out of bracken instead of the corn starch that I use.

Warabi mochi is usually served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and kuromitsu (something like molasses?). And this trinity is a  w i n n i n g  combination, especially in the summertime. The warabi mochi itself doesn’t have much of a flavour, it just serves as a refreshing vehicle to deliver the earthy flavour of the kinako and the sweetness of the kuromitsu.

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It’s best to eat the warabi mochi right after making as the texture deteriorates over time. I got the recipe from here and watched this to get a better idea of what to do.

Ingredients

Warabi mochi

  • 50g corn starch (or わらび餅粉 warabimochiko if you can get it)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 300ml water (see notes)
  • Kinako (きな粉, enough to coat the warabi mochi)

Kuromitsu

  • 50g unrefined brown sugar (黒糖, kokutou, looks like this)
  • 50g white sugar
  • 50ml water

Method

Warabi mochi

  1. Mix the starch and the sugar in a pot. Then add in the water and mix well.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
  3. When the mixture is translucent, remove from heat.
  4. Pour the mixture into a rectangle container of a suitable size, such that the mixture is 1 inch thick. Place the container in an ice bath for 10 minutes, or until the warabi mochi is about room temperature.
  5. Unmould the warabi mochi onto a wet surface and cut into cubes using a wet knife. Place the cubes into room temperature water after cutting for easier handling.

Kuromitsu

  1. Mix the sugars and water in a saucepan and heat until the mixture is boiling and all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  1. Sprinkle the warabi mochi pieces with kinako and drizzle with kuromitsu.
  2. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • If you’re using corn starch instead of warabimochiko, the warabi mochi is going to have a bit of a unpleasant aftertaste to it. You don’t really taste it with the kinako and the kuromitsu masking it, but it’s still best to use the warabimochiko. The recipe source suggests making the warabi mochi with green tea instead of water to mask this aftertaste, but I didn’t try that so I don’t know if that works.
  • I got all the ingredients from Daiso, basically a Japanese dollar store, so if you have one around your area yay.
  • For storage, store the warabi mochi separate from the kinako and the kuromitsu. Don’t store in the fridge or the warabi mochi will lose its soft texture.
  • Some people say that dark muscovado sugar can be substituted for kokutou, but they don’t look alike to me so I can’t vouch for this substitution.

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.

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).