Variations on a (steamed) theme

2009 October 12

20091012 bread banner

Haven’t posted for a while as I have been busily trying out different variations of steamed bread. Steamed breads, or mushipan (蒸しパン), are popular snacks in Japan and you will usually find at least a few sweet or savory options at any convenience store. They are ridiculously foolproof to make and while I haven’t been able to recreate some of my favorite flavors just get (no chestnuts and no satsumaimo around here) I have come up with some new favorites.

These little steamed breads are super simple to make and just the perfect mini-batch size to make for a fresh dessert with the day’s lunch! They can be ready to steam in three simple steps.

1. Mix together the egg and sugar.

20091012 Eggies

2. Mix in the other wet ingredients.

20091012 Oil!

3. Mix in the flour and baking powder.

20091012 Flour!

And you’re done! You don’t even have to worry about over-mixing, like you must with muffins. Then you fill yours cups (I used metal “pudding” cups from Japan) 3/4 full and place them in a large pot of boiling water. Make sure the water doesn’t reach farther than halfway up the cups or it may boil over them and make big soggy miles of mush instead of the desirable mushipan. Also make sure your heat isn’t up too high or all the water may all evaporate and you may have smoky, burnt bread! I have my stove between medium and medium-high.

20091012 in you go

Cover this pot with the lid, but wrap it in a towel to avoid it dripping any water back down on the bread–again risking sogginess. If you want to add any topping or decorations or fillings that you don’t want to sink all the way through the dough, then add them after a minute or two of steaming (which is when I actually took the picture above).

20091012 Steam!

All together the breads should be steamed 10-12 minutes and you’re done! If you have time to let them cool, they will come out of their molds more easily, but if not, just run a knife around the edges. Then you’ve got a nummy treat for you (relatively?) healthy lunch!

20091012 Mmm, lunch

Recipes, then! There are lots more but just four favorites to start. All of them are mixed and prepared in the order described above. That’s all there is to it!

20091012 Lemon yogurt

Lemon Yogurt mushipan

1 egg

60 g of sugar

1/4 cup of plain yogurt

(if none, use vanilla, but you may wish to cut back on the sugar)

1 tsp of lemon juice

1 tbsp of oil

100 g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of baking powder

(Lemon slices for decoration)

20091012 Milk tea

Afternoon tea (gogo no koucha)

1 egg

60 g of sugar

1/4 cup of strong brewed tea (I used earl grey here)

(if none, use vanilla, but you may wish to cut back on the sugar)

1 tbsp of oil

100 g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of baking powder

A teaspoon or two of ground tea leaves

(how much you add depends on the variety of tea and how strong you wish the flavor to be)

Here I served the bread with fresh whipped cream, trying to bring to mind my favorite milk tea.

20091012 caramelly

Caramel Cafe Latte

1 egg

60 g of sugar

1/4 cup of milk

2 tsp of strong brewed coffee (instant or drip)

1 tbsp of oil100 g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of baking powder

(if you have whole coffee beans, they make a great decoration)

I added pieces of my fresh caramel in the middle to make these caramel cafe latte flavored, but even without the caramel, they are delightful. Mmm, coffee…

20091012 Strawberries and cream

Strawberries and Cream

2 eggs

40 g of sugar

2 tbsp of condensed milk (if you don’t have any, a rich cream. Barring that, milk and some more sugar)

1 tbsp of oil100 g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of baking powder

Last of all mix in 4-5 strawberries, mashed with a fork

(if you’d like, decorate the tops with a sliced strawberry as well)

Ooh, the calories. They are delicious. I think I’ll give breads a rest this week though and return to my experiments with jelly. I tried to make coffee jelly last week, but the agar didn’t dissolve well and the jelly was grainy. Blech. I’ll be trying fruit jellies and probably another coffee jelly with week for desserts!


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