Anpan is Japanese Red Bean Bun, made of soft sweet bread stuffed with a sweet red bean paste filling. These make a delicious snack or on-the-go breakfast that will pair perfectly with a Matcha Latte.
Back in the day when I was in college just a few years back (not really), we used to frequent an Asian bakery called JJ bakery. We would pack our trays with all sort of Asian bread, including delicious Anpan (Japanese Red Bean Bun) or simply Red Bean Bun. We hoard enough for a week worth of snack and breakfast. We have since graduated to 85 degrees C bakery but my love for these buns hasn’t changed. They’re soft, sweet and extremely satisfying.
I do not claim to be original all the time, I learned how to make these Red Bean Bun and the methods from Just One CookBook’s Anpan recipe. But Nami made the buns using dough enriched with egg and butter. I use just a simple Milk Bread recipe for my buns. No egg or butter, just soft and milky bread dough surrounds a ball of sweet red bean paste. Let’s make them!
How to Make Anpan
If you’ve made Brioche before, you know enriched dough takes just a bit more work, not impossibly difficult, just slightly more work. I don’t want to ever discourage you to try making brioche, but this milk bread dough is super simple and you really can’t go wrong. The dough comes together easily as one-two-three.
The first rise should take somewhere from 2 – 3 hours, may be longer depending on the ambient temperature. Keep the dough covered and in a warmer spot of the house if possible. One batch of dough is enough to make 8 buns. Divide it into 8 equal portions, you can use a kitchen scale to be exact, or just eyeball it.
One the dough balls are divided, let them rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten. This will help the next step of filling and shaping the bun easier. When you’re able to shape them more evenly, they will rise and bake more evenly in the oven. Once filled and shaped, they will need to rest for a second rise before baking.
I usually use a coarse red bean paste with some of the bean still visible in the mixture. You should be able to find them at Japanese or Korean grocery store. This Sweet Red Bean Paste is the same brand, the packaging will be similar, but this one is a “fine” paste. These are usually in the dried or canned goods section, and not refrigerated. I always refrigerate the leftover once the package is open.
A coat of egg wash will ensure your Red Bean Buns come out golden brown and delicious. Traditionally, these buns are garnished with a dot of black sesame seeds, but you can see I’m quite the rule breaker here and use white sesame seeds instead. They were just what I had in my freezer. You can toast them, or use them raw like I did.
The trick to add the sesame seeds in a neat round cluster is to use a small pestle or something with about 3/4” diameter. Dip the flat end of the pestle in egg wash, then immediately dip it in the sesame seeds to pick them up, lightly press them on top of the dough to deposit the sesame seed cluster. Make sure you add egg wash to the bun before adding the sesame seeds so they will stick. Bake the buns for 15 minutes or longer if necessary until they’re golden brown.
These Anpan or Japanese Red Bean Buns sure bring back lots of good memories of my college days, which for some reason always involved food. I guess even before I even knew it, bread ran my life, and I don’t mind it at all. Do me a favor and have a Red Bean Bun with a cup of homemade Matcha green tea latte, I think you’ll love it!
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
Anpan (Japanese Red Bean Bun)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cup all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoon reserved
- Extra flour for rolling
- 1 cup of red bean paste
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- Sesame seeds
- Add cream and milk to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, turn off heat and transfer to a stand mixer mixing bowl. Dissolve the sugar in the hot milk mixture using a whisk or spatula. Let it cool down to below 110°F.
- Sprinkle active dry yeast over the liquid surface and let it bloom for 10 - 15 minutes, the mixture should puff up.
- Add 2 cup of flour along with the salt to the liquid mixture. Knead with the dough hook on speed 2 until the dough comes together. If the dough is too wet, add the reserved flour, 1 tablespoon at at time, and continue kneading. The dough should still be wet but not too tacky.
- Dump the dough out onto a lightly flour counter top and knead into a ball. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for 2 - 3 hours until at least double in size.
- Dump the risen dough out onto a lightly flour counter top, divide into 8 equal portions and shape into balls. Place dough balls on a lined baking sheet and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Working with one dough ball at a time, press and stretch it out with your fingers into a circle about 3 - 4 inches in diameter. Add two tablespoons of red bean paste in the middle, and pinch the edges to seal the red bean paste inside. Place on a lined baking sheet seam side down.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough balls and let rise in a warm place for 1 - 2 hours until double in size and puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Beat one egg with a tablespoon of whole milk to make egg wash. Lightly brush egg wash all over the top and sides of the dough. Now dip the flat side of a small pestle into the egg wash, then immediately dip it into a bowl of sesame seeds, and lightly press the sesame seeds on top the dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the top is golden brown. Rotate the pan during the last 2 - 3 minutes if necessary to brown evenly.
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