Azuki (Red Bean) Filled Mochi

新年快樂! Happy Chinese New Year! I wish you all a prosperous year, and may your celebrations be filled with lots of food and warmth!

It’s been terribly frigid here, and in the city that never sleeps, I’m still expected to go into work as long as the subways are running. Luckily my commute only involves strapping on my boots and walking (though with this week’s weather, ice skates would have been more fitting).

In these frosty conditions, nothing warms me up like food, friends, and family. Tonight we will feast on lots of Chinese food, and I’ll be snacking on this azuki mochi throughout the day.

Tiny Urban Kitchen featured a post of Chinese New Year recipes, and the nian gao (年糕) post spoke to me. I love making (and eating) mochi, but I usually cook it using steam. So I thought I’d try out a baked mochi cake, stuffed with red bean paste. Thanks for the idea and the recipe, Jen!

If you haven’t eaten anything like this before, think of it like a super-chewy-Asian-flavored-brownie. Or blondie. It’s super easy to make, and even easier to eat!

Azuki (Red Bean) Filled Mochi
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

1 lb sweet rice flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups and 1 tablespoon milk
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 cups azuki (red bean) paste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt.
3. Add 2 beaten eggs and 2 cups milk into flour mixture and stir together until well combined.
4. Spread about half of the mochi batter into greased baking pan. Spoon the azuki paste on top of mochi layer and spread evenly. Cover with remaining mochi batter.
5. Whisk together egg yolk and tablespoon of milk to make egg wash. Brush top of mochi with egg wash.
6. Bake in oven for 60 minutes until golden brown.
7. Let cool 10-15 minutes then slice into squares.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

It’s been high barbeque season for a while, and though I’ve been a little quiet this summer, I’d like to share a hamburger bun recipe for your next barbeque. Sure, it takes more time than going out and buying a bag of pre-made buns, but it’s more fun to make things from scratch. Oh, don’t tell me I’m the only one. I used a recipe from Nicole of Baking Bites, so clearly I am not alone.

Sure, it takes some time to let the dough rise, but if you let that happen in the fridge overnight, you can avoid spending hours watching dough rise. Now I may be the only one who does that for entertainment, but that is why I used the fridge trick this time.

The original recipe calls for whole wheat flour and brown sugar, and I swapped it with all-purpose flour and honey. The buns were soft and sweet, and I would make them again. If not in this barbeque season, then certainly in the next one. You should really consider making them too!

Hamburger Buns
adapted from Baking Bites

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup oats
2-3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1. Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Stir in the rest of the water, honey, oats, salt and 1 1/2 cups of flour.
2. Using the dough hook attachment on the mixer, mix the dough together. Add in the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes together into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
3. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured flat surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or overnight in fridge.
4. Let dough rise until doubled in size. If left to rise in fridge overnight, let thaw for about 1 hour. Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangle. Divide into eight equal pieces.
5. To shape the buns, draw up the corners of each piece of dough and pinch together, forming a tight ball. Place, seam side down, on a parchment/Silpat lined baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart.
6. Sprinkle the tops with black sesame seeds and let rise for 45 minutes, covered with a clean dishtowel, until almost doubled in size.
7. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. The rolls will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. The rolls will soften slightly as they sit. Recipe makes 8 buns.