Manju Cake, a delightful variant among Japan’s extensive lineup of wagashi (traditional sweets), stands out with its sweet red bean core. Unlike its famous counterpart, mochi, known for its sticky, glutinous texture, Manju Cake exhibits a cake-like softness, fashioned from wheat, rice, or other flours. This distinction offers a delightful option for those leaning towards a less chewy dessert delight.
- All-purpose flour: 2 1/2 cups
- Baking powder: 4 teaspoons
- Sugar: 1/4 cup
- Water: 2/3 to 3/4 cup
- Anko or Koshian (smooth red bean paste): 3/4 pound
- Start by collecting all your ingredients.
- Combine flour and baking powder by sifting them together in a bowl.
- Stir in sugar until it’s well mixed.
- Gradually add water to the mixture, blending continuously.
- Knead the dough thoroughly until it’s soft and malleable.
- Split the dough into 12 equal segments, shape them into balls, then flatten.
- Encase a spoonful of anko filling inside each dough piece, seal, and form a ball.
- Set each dough ball on a small piece of parchment paper.
- With your steamer ready and heated, steam the cakes for about 10 minutes and enjoy them fresh.
Varieties and Enjoyment of Manju
Manju’s allure doesn’t end with its classic red bean filling. The world of manju is versatile, offering an assortment of fillings like vanilla, chocolate, and fruit-infused creams, including exotic flavors like mango and yuzu. Some regional varieties may even feature chestnut or white bean pastes.
When it comes to the outer cake, green tea or matcha often takes center stage, though many regions in Japan have their unique twist, echoing local tastes and ingredients. Eating manju fresh from the steamer is key to experiencing its full, comforting warmth and tenderness – a moment of sweet indulgence that transcends the ordinary. Remember, the true essence of manju lies in its ability to bring a taste of Japan’s rich culinary heritage into every bite, inviting everyone to savor its unique, tender embrace.