Saturday, October 1, 2011


Hello again, all!
It's been a great month of September, and now here we are in October!! :)
Tonight was the first real rainy day, with the first sounds of jazz wafting through the air (jazz and rain just go so well together, don't you think??), the clacking of knitting needles (already working on Christmas gifts!) and much chamomile tea.

But before the rain hit, Dash was a doll and helped me bake up a batch of anpan bread for my tutee who turned the big 1-0 in August. Double digits!! おたんじょうび おめでとう、ジョナさん!

If you are not familiar with anpan bread, it is pretty much a milk bread roll with sweet red bean paste (anko) inside. Mm-mm!
A staple Japanese snack. And the basis of the very popular and well-loved (at least in our household) Japanese cartoon super hero, Anpanman!

Please read below to learn how to make this tasty treat for yourself:

Anko Filling

    •    1 1/2 cups red beans (also known as azuki)
    •    1 1/2 cups sugar
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt

Rinse the beans in a colander. Place them in a large bowl with a plenty of water to cover the beans. Let them soak for 3 to 8 hours.

(1) Drain and place the beans in a deep pot with a plenty of water to cover the beans. Bring it to a boil. You will see a lot of foam forming on the surface. Pour out the beans into a colander and rinse them well with running water to remove foam. Clean the pot and refill with fresh water, place the beans back in a pot and bring it to a boil.
(2) Repeat step (1). This time after rinsing the beans, add 5 1/2 cups water and bring it to a boil again. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until the beans become so tender that you can mash one with your tongue. (Be careful not to burn your tongue.) Stir more frequently toward the end.
(3) When the beans are completely soft add 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer at low without a lid, stirring very frequently until the mixture becomes somewhat thick.
(4) If you can see the bottom of the pot when you scrape with a wooden spatula, it is ready to remove from heat. Paste will become harder as it cools. Keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

Milk Bread (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Combine in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:

    •    1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
    •    3 tbsp warm water

    •    1 cup whole or low-fat milk, warmed to 105 - 115 F
    •    5 tbsp melted butter or margarine
    •    3 tbsp sugar
    •    1 large egg
    •    1 tsp salt

Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually stir in:
    •    2 cups bread flour

Gradually add until the dough is moist but not sticky:
    •    1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch the dough down, knead briefly, and refrigerate covered for 30 minutes. At this point, the dough may be shaped into rolls:
Divide the dough equally into 16 pieces. Grease a baking sheet. On a floured surface, roll the dough pieces flat, fill with 1.5 tbsp of anko, and then fold/roll into balls. Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Let rise in a warm place for 45 min - 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Bake for 12-15 min.
Anpanman's beaming face before hitting the oven

Anpanman is totally baked! Ha!
They are so delightful with a cup of milk be it for breakfast or as a mid-day snack.

Well, I hope you try your hand at this recipe and do let me know the results!

Until then, Happy Anpan Baking, and I hope it makes you "げんき ひゃくばい!!"