The signature Japanese bread is called ‘anpan,’ which is a kind of small bun bearing a resemblance to bagel or hamburger, but small in size. Anpan is extremely soft and fluffy as compared to other breads from different cuisines. Unlike buns and bagels, this Japanese bread recipe calls for a filling that could be made of red, green or white bean paste. The sweetness of anpan is also well-liked by the Japanese people and it is recognized as an important part of the Japanese diet.
History of Anpan
Japan’s first bakery was established in 1869 by Yasube Kimura. At that time, bread was only considered a staple in western cuisine, but Yasube developed some of the highly acceptable breads for Japanese palate through his continuous experimentation. His efforts in bread making had revitalized the Japanese bakery industry.
In 1874, Yasube introduced ‘anpan’ to the Japanese cuisine and since then the use of breads in Japanese households and restaurants has changed dramatically.
Japanese Bread Recipe: Ingredients and Preparation Overview
Japanese bread ‘anpan’ is best described as a bread-like covering over sweet bean paste. The yeast used in the making of this bread is especially cultured with rice and it is generally used to ferment sake. The product is basically a yeast strain that allows the bread to ferment in not less than 10 days as compared to baker’s yeast that allows fermentation within 4 hours.
The flour used in the making of bread can be of any type, but usually it is white flour that makes soft breads after being fermented with yeast. The white flour when kneaded with liquid facilitates the gluten proteins present in it to absorb the water that helps in forming elastic dough. The fermented yeast then allows the dough to trap gas and carbon-di-oxide bubbles formed in the dough providing a light texture to bread.
Red, green or white beans are generally used to make a nice sweet filling for anpan. Quite often, sesame paste or a Japanese sweet pickle is also filled in the bread-wrapping along with other favorable ingredients. Salt and sugar are added to the bread dough to increase the flavor. Vegetable oil is generally used in the dough as it make the dough more elastic and allows to hold more gas bubbles resulting in a light bread.
Once the dough is ready and fermented, the dough is given the shape of the buns that are kept in oven at desired temperature for baking.
More Japanese Breads
While Anpan is synonymous with "The Japanese bread," another bread is also common in this cuisine, which the Japanese bakeries call ‘Melon Pan’. This bread gets its name because of its look rather than its taste. Melon pan is bun-like bread made from cookie dough and filled with any sweet filling, most commonly with mango custard or sweet bean paste. This bread is generally crumbly and quite messy while eating.
Health Facts Related to Japanese Breads
The high fiber content of Japanese bread makes it extremely helpful in preventing intestinal disorders and it may even ward off some types of cancers. Japanese bread is known to be rich in iron and vitamins, due to presence of bean paste. Other than that, this bread is also a valuable source of calcium.