Azuki (red bean) filling is one of my favourite Asian sweet ingredients. The best I’ve had to date was the koshi-an I had in Kyoto, Japan as an exchange student. I took a wagashi (traditional Japanese confection) course from school in the second semester. The craft is a unique part of traditional Japanese culture. Wagashi has a strong emphasis on seasonality, with its shapes and flavours changing with the seasons. I remember as the instructor was demonstrating, we were all in awe at his skills. The experience was like watching an artist gracefully transforming mochi into edible masterpieces. It turned out that the store Oimatsu that he worked for is one of the oldest and well known in Kyoto. They specialize in kyo-gashi (Kyoto style wagashi), sweets made specifically for imperial court rituals and tea ceremonies. Suddenly it all made sense why the sweets he made were absolutely perfect, and why the koshi-an was the very best. Aside from traditional sweets, anko (cooked and sweetened azuki filling) is used in many non-traditional applications such as breads and western style desserts. Azuki and matcha is a classic flavour combination, rooting from tea ceremonies. Anko is often the balance to the bitterness in matcha. Combining what I know would taste good, I present you: Azuki Brioche Rolls with Matcha Mascarpone.
- 330 g / 2-2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 6 g / 2 tsp instant yeast
- 8 g / 1-1/4 tsp salt
- 40 g / 3 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
- half of a vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
- 200 g eggs (about 4 large), cold taken out of the fridge
- 18 g / 1 tbsp milk
- 200 g / 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- egg wash
- 330 g / 1 cup canned azuki red bean filling (I used the "ogura" variety)
- 250 g / 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 36g / 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 8 g / 1 tbsp matcha powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Combine all dry ingredients with vanilla seeds in a mixer bowl.
- Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and add to the dry ingredients.
- Start the mixer on low speed with a dough hook to mix the dough until it comes away from the side of the bowl, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add in butter by the tablespoon, mixing a little after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, punch down and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. *It is important to work with the dough while it is cold otherwise it will be too soft and difficult to shape.
- On a lightly floured working surface, roll out brioche dough to a 30 cm wide, 20 cm high rectangle. Spread the azuki filling in an even layer onto the dough, leaving a 2 cm high gap on the top edge. Roll tightly from the bottom edge, and work up to the top. pinch in the top edge to the rolled dough. Cut into 12 equal pieces, about 5 cm wide per piece.
- Butter a 9" x 13" cake pan, place rolled dough cut side up into pan in a 3 x 4 pattern.
- Proof dough in a warm place for about 1 hour, until it has doubled its size. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush egg wash onto proofed rolls. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until the top has turned a rich golden brown. Cool before icing.
- Mix all ingredients in the mixer on low speed until everything is thoroughly blended. Refrigerate until using. Spread a healthy dose on cooled brioche rolls and serve!
Tips on buying azuki red bean fillings: They are usually sold in Asian supermarkets. I used a good quality canned red bean filling from Japan, I find that they have the best flavour – not overly sweet with a good texture. You can also find ones in vacuum sealed bags, but the flavour of those are usually sub-par. Japanese style red bean filling doesn’t contain oil or fats, so don’t mistaken them for the Chinese type, which do contain some kind of fat. There are two major types of Japanese style – tsubu-an (the bean is cooked and left whole) or koshi-an (the cooked beans are strained to achieve a smooth texture). In this recipe, I used ogura style, which is somewhere between the two. You can really use whichever you prefer the final texture to be like. I have also tried a Korean canned variety but it had a bitter aftertaste. Leftover filling can be wrapped in plastic with foil, and they keep very well frozen for several months. Besides Asian sweets, I like to make a matcha sponge cake layered in red bean whipped cream. To make whipped cream, simple whip 2 portions of whipping cream to 1 portion of filling until fluffy – so easy but so good!
More tasty brioche recipes from the blog:
Nothing beats the smell of fresh brioche – buttery and tender with the distinct nuttiness and sweetness from the azuki filling. Topped with a dallop of matcha mascarpone, it brightens and complements the richness of the brioche. I can’t get enough of these fresh rolls, they taste great even without the topping. If you need something green and unconventional for this St. Patricks day, this is the one to make! Happy March!