Do you remember the scene in Spirited Away where Lin, the bathhouse worker, brings a huge plate of some kind of white bread to Sen after a tough first day at work? The two of them devour that mysterious bread, and it helps Sen feel a lot better. That bread was likely a traditional Japanese bread called "anman," a soft bread stuffed with red bean paste that is steamed. There is also "anpan" which is basically the same but baked. These baked red bean buns have especially been a part of traditional Japanese food culture for a long time, and they’re still commonly enjoyed today.
So today you can step into an anime yourself and enjoy some red bean buns that you’ve made! Whether you want to pretend you’re in a traditional story set in Japan’s past or a modern school life story, red bean buns will be appropriate. Let’s have a look at what anime you can see them in, and then onwards to the recipe!
Bringing an Anime Snack to Life
Spirited Away isn’t the only animation to feature red bean buns, though. They’re actually quite a common treat! Actually, Japan’s most famous children’s show, Anpanman, features a main character whose entire head is made from a red bean bun. But don’t worry, red bean buns appear in more age-appropriate media, too. Akatsuki from Log Horizon loves to eat red bean buns with green tea, Nagisa talks to herself about anpan often in Clannad, and red bean buns are used as a prize in Deadman Wonderland. Gintama is one of Japan’s most popular anime, and in one episode Sagaru Yamazaki even eats a red bean bun as part of a ritual (never mind that he goes insane from it...). For gaming fans out there, you can buy red bean buns at convenience stores throughout the Yakuza game series - mostly because you can buy them at real Japanese convenience stores, too!
Anpan (Red Bean Buns)( -8 buns)
What you need:
How to Cook It:
1In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast. Mix all these dry ingredients together well.
2Then, beat the large egg in a small bowl, and stir it into the mixture.
3Add the milk and water in the large bowl as well, and stir everything well again to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
4Next, using either your hands or a wooden spoon (with flour on them), mix the dough to make it into a large, sticky ball. It will be REALLY sticky at first but be persistent and patient until it forms a ball. You can add a little extra flour if you need to but be careful not to add too much!
5Once you have a large ball, move the dough to a floured, flat surface and begin to knead it with your hands. The dough should start to not be sticky anymore, but if it doesn’t, you can add a little more flour as needed.
6When the dough had become more elastic, stretch it out and add the butter, cut into cubes, to the top of it. Then fold the butter in and continue kneading it into the dough.
7As the dough becomes smooth, you can start to bang it off of the surface to make it even more elastic. You should continue to knead the dough and bang it on the counter for about ten minutes until it’s smooth and silky in texture. You can now form the dough back into a ball.
8Place the ball of dough in a large bowl and cover it, then leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours. It should double in size.
9Once the dough is ready, put it back onto the flat surface and press it out to release any air. Then fold it back into a ball, and cut it into eight equal pieces. These smaller pieces should then be formed into small balls themselves.
10Let these small balls of dough rest, covered, for 15 minutes on a baking sheet. Then press the dough into flat circles, approximately 3in in diameter, and add a spoonful of the red bean paste to the centre. Fold the dough back up around the filling and pinch the seam securely closed. Place the filled balls back on the baking sheet, seam down, and allow them to rise another 30 minutes covered.
11When the balls have doubled in size again, you’re almost ready to bake them! Sprinkle a few black sesame seeds to the top of each one if you wish, and then bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for about 14 minutes. When they’re browned evenly, they’re finally finished! Good job; you not only made bread from scratch, you made a famous Japanese snack!
Have you ever had red bean buns before? Did you try out our recipe yet, or are you going to soon? How did it turn out? What’s your favourite anime scene with red bean buns? Don’t leave without dropping a comment!