I happened to have some boiled red azuki beans sitting in my refrigerator, cooked from the night before, when this whole thing hit me. In an instant, I knew precisely what I’d be doing with them. Why, I’d be making Matcha Buns stuffed with glorious Red Azuki Bean Filling. Oh, YES! And just like that, it was decided.
There is a pastry shop in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris called Aki Boulanger. They do French patisserie with a heavy Japanese influence. Every time I’m in the area, I love to stop in. Lots of their dessets are made with Matcha Green Tea. If you’ve never experienced this flavor in desserts, your initial reaction might be a little hesitant. But a few more bites into your Matcha Choux, or Matcha Mille Feuille, and I’m sure you’ll have become a fan too. In addition to Matcha, lots of Asian desserts use red beans as a sweet filling. Not only is it super yummy, but it also has some good protein, nutrients, and minerals.
Matcha Buns require a little patience, but your hard work will be worth it. The result is a soft and pillowy inside, and crunchy outside. You’ll bite into a soft center of sweet red Azuki bean filling. They are simply perfect for your afternoon tea or pick-me-up.
First, let’s talk about the filling. Since my beans were already cooked, that eliminated about an hour of preparation time. Otherwise, you have a boring hour of boiling beans ahead of you. You can also let the beans soak for about 12 hours before you cook them, if you want to take off about 30 minutes off the boiling time.
Add 150g of red beans with 800g water and 150g sugar in a small casserole and cook over medium to high heat until mixture thickens. Use a hand mixer to mix it but leave some chunks of red beans for texture. Add in 40g butter and stir well. The consistency should be thick, but not dense. It will thicken more when it cools, like so:
Set your red bean filling aside. For the buns, it is preferable to mix the ingredients in your bread machine under the “dough” setting. If you don’t have a bread machine, (like me) I did this in my Magimix until the dough formed a ball. The ingredients are listed below in the recipe. Like usual, mix the dry ingredients before the wet ones. Mix all the dry ingredients first, leaving the instant yeast for last. Make a little hole with your finger in the dry ingredients and pour the yeast in. Fill hole with warm water, let sit a minute, then mix well.
Let the dough rise 45 minutes in a warm place.
During this time, you can make the icing (directions below in the recipe section).
With your newly risen ball of dough, grab off small pieces of the ball and stretch them so you can put a spatchula full of red bean filling in the middle. Stretch the dough around the red bean filling pulling the dough from all directions to gently to cover the filling. Be very generous with the filling. I wished that I had added a little more! If you stretch and tuck the dough around the ball at least 5 times you should have covered the filling. Place the ball in a tray covered with a baking sheet. Cover with icing and then add a pinch of black sesame seeds on top.
Before baking, these little puffers look like this:
And hot out of the oven, they look like this: The outside is crispy and the inside is very soft and whispy and the red bean filling is decadent! Serve when they return to room temperature, with a cup of green tea.
Hope these will tide you over nicely until my next post… I’m going to teach you how to make the most juicy and succulent oven roasted farm-fresh whole chicken. I’m so confident about this recipe, that I guarantee you that you’ll never have another dry bird come out of your oven in your life. But until then, for my Japanese friends and followers, どうぞめしあがれ (Douzo meshiagare!!)