Red Bean Paste - My own recipe, elements of which were gleaned from several basics found online, but foolproof no matter what age the beans are
1 cup azuki beans (found in Asian and health food grocers)
4 cups water for soaking
Additional water for cooking
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or shortening for smoother mouth feel (optional)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
Method (The night before)
Pick over beans for possible debris and breakage. Rinse under cold water, then cover generously in a large bowl. Soak beans overnight, at least for eight hours.
Next day, drain the beans and transfer them to a large, heavy saucepan. Cover them with about 4 inches of fresh water. Bring to boil, skim off any foam, and reduce heat to a moderate simmer. Cover saucepan and let cook for up to 3 hours, checking periodically to stir, check for softening and replace water lost through evaporation. Do not let beans dry out or they will burn. Press beans coarsely with a potato masher. If they are very soft, empty them into a large metal strainer to drain the water, then transfer strainer to rest on a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, press and scrap beans through the strainer to separate the thick pulp from the fibrous skins, making sure to include any pulp caught on underside of strainer. Discard the skins and transfer the pulp to a large, heavy skillet. *Cook on low heat, stirring in the optional oil and shortening, then incrementally adding the sugar. Continue to stir and rub the pulp into a dense paste. The paste is ready when you can easily see the bottom of the skillet when you swipe the spoon through the paste. (If the beans, as in my story, remain tough, collect the drained water from the bean-cooking sauce pan and return it to the saucepan with whatever pulp you can extract through the strainer. Stir this very loose mixture constantly over moderate heat until it begins to evaporate and thicken. Proceed as above*.) Allow the paste to cool before filling the bun dough. Paste can be stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Return to room temperature before using.
Steamed Asian Buns - With the exception of substituting bleached cake flour for the all-purpose unbleached flour called for, I followed the recipe from The Fresh Loaf and have not rewritten it here. N.B. - The warm water cited must be luke warm to the touch, 105 - 110 degrees F, neither too cold nor too hot for the yeast to be activated without being destroyed.
Makes one dozen buns. Very best when eaten warm straight from the steamer.
Been There, Done That ~
Sourdough Waffles and Pumpkin Dessert Roll
Fast French Bread
Peach Rum Savarin
Other People's Eats ~
Multigrain Yeast Pancakes