Red bean Buns, Red Bean Dessert, Dorayaki Pancakes, Red Bean Ice cream was never something I really loved. I was really crazy about chocolate and caramel for awhile but not Red Bean. It wasn’t until I left home for college at BYU for 7 months, then I really missed this beauties. I craved eating anything red bean flavoured. It was almost as if I felt the need to connect with my asian roots. Just thinking about these reminded me of home.
My dad grew up in Cheung Chau with his huge family – my grandparents and their siblings along with their children. It was a huge, happy family, very commonly seen back in those times. Cheung Chau is a beautiful outlying island, one hour away from Hong Kong. There is something so nostalgic, so rustic, so warm about that a place filled with delicious streetfood, bustling markets, and old traditions. I use to spend summers and Chinese New Year there all the time. One of the things I remember was going to down the narrow, windy streets to a small bakery where they would sell fresh bread. My grandparents used to buy their red bean paste buns, sausage, buns, and milk loaf back to their house to give to their grandchildren as snacks. These were usually warm and right out of the oven. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and loved the thick layer of smooth red bean stuffed inside freshly baked buns – so soft and pillowy. Trying to find a recipe to match with my memory of them was definitely difficult, but Jane’s Corner did a fantastic job of helping me recreate the flavours I missed so much. It is a wonderful recipe. One bite into the bread and I was transported back to my childhood at my grandparent’s house – playing with my cousins, eating the delicious, mouthwatering bread and treats our grandparents spoilt us with, running around in the gardens and exploring the island.
One word of advice: different brands of red bean paste taste differently and have varying levels of sweetness. For convenience you can buy store-brought, although home-made is best.
Recipe from Jane’s Corner
Ingredients -Makes 12
250g Bread Flour
1 small egg, at room temperature
70g/70ml milk (we used only about 50-60ml)
1 tsp instant yeast
20g unsalted butter, softened
50 g Caster/Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
50-60g Mashed Sweet Potato, cooled (1 Peeled, cut sweet potato, boiled in just enough water to cover for 10-15 minutes and strained)
275g Red Bean Paste
Black Sesame Seeds/Poppy Seeds (garnish)
How to Make:
- Using a hand whisk mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and mashed sweet potato together.
- Next gradually add in the egg. Then add in the milk very slowly to adjust the texture. It should a little sticky and the should form a dough ball. (you can do this in a bread machine or knead by hand like we did).
- Add in the butter and knead the dough for 15 minutes at least. It should be at a stage where you are able to stretch the dough into a thin sheet. Kneading by folding in the dough towards the middle in a circular motion helps.
- In a preheated oven at 100C, place the dough in a ball with a damp cloth over. Turn off the oven and allow to proof for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- Remove the dough and divide into 12 equal portions (it is best to use an electric scale). Allow it rest for 10 minutes on the bench.
- Flour the surface of the table and roll out the dough into a circle, about the size of your palm. Place 1 packed tbsp of red bean filling into the centre. Gather all the sides up, pinch and twist. Keep pinching. You may find it hard to seal. Just place it on the board with the sealed side flat on the board. Use your hands and shape into a round shape. Its alright if the bottom isn’t perfectly smooth, as long as it is sealed perfectly then it is done. Repeat with all the others.
- In a preheated oven at 100 C, allow the filled buns to proof on a baking tray for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Remember to turn off before putting the buns in)
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake in oven for 12 minutes. (Our oven doesn’t bake very evenly so consider turning the baking tray halfway through to ensure an evenly browning if your oven is the same). Serve Warm.