This Japanese manju is made with a dough made of wheat and wrapped with anko. This is the most standard steamed bun with a brown sugar flavor.
Manju Kowai, afraid of Manju, is one of the most famous rakugo stories in Japan.
My father sent me a picture book of Manju Kowai. Thanks to the book, Juhani understood the story of Manju Kowai, but he had never eaten manju before. So, I decided to make manju own and found it surprisingly easy to make.
Manjuu with Strong Flour
The crust of manju is made with light flour, cookie flour. However, all flour in Finland is strong flour, bread flour. 
If you go to an Asian market that sells Japanese food, you can buy light flour, but it is a bit expensive. So I tried to find out what kind of difference light and strong flours make in manju skins.
Different Wrapping Ease
The first difference is the softness of the dough. Dough made with light flour is quite soft and may tear when wrapping anko. On the other hand, the dough made with strong flour is less likely to tear and is easier to wrap Anko in.
They Look the Same
Here is a picture of the steamed buns. The one with the red mark is the strong flour, and the one without mark is the light flour.
In this way, the appearance is almost the same.
Fluffy or Glutinous
In terms of texture, the light-strength flour was fluffier, while the strong flour was a bit glutinous. But both are definitely manju. The only difference is when you break the buns. The surface of the skin of the manju made with light flour peels off.
When you eat commercially made manjuu, sometimes the skin sticks to the package and peels off. The skin of the strong flour did not peel off only on the surface, probably thanks to the firm gluten, and the texture was chunky all around.
The Next Day is Almost the Same
There was a difference in texture right after steaming, but when I wrapped the cooled manjuu in plastic wrap and ate it the next day, there was almost no difference in texture.
So, although the texture of the freshly made buns may be slightly different, it can be said that strong flour can be used to make buns without any problems.
Make Anko by Hand
Steamed Buns with Anko, Raw Sugar Flavor Manju
- water 40 g
- raw sugar 25 g
- white sugar 25 g
- soy sauce 5 g
- water 10 g
- baking soda 5 g
- flour 120 g
- anko 120 g
- Light flour, cookie flour is usually used for steamed buns. Strong flour, bread flour gives a chewier finish. You can choose the flour you like.
- Put 40g water, brown sugar, and white sugar in a pan.
- Place over medium heat and stir with a silicon spatula to dissolve the sugar.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool down to about body temperature. (*1)
- Add baking soda to 10g of water and mix well. The baking soda will not dissolve, but it should be well dispersed.
- Put the baking soda and soy sauce in a pot and mix well.
- Add the flour and mix until the flouriness disappears.
- Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
- With 20g of dough and 20g of anko, make a palm-sized bun with a thick skin.
- Divide the anko into 20g portions and roll them up.
- Dust a worktable with flour, divide the dough into 20g portions, and place them on the worktable.
- Dust the entire dough with flour, fold it, and adjust the stiffness to a slightly sticky consistency.
- Roll out the dough using your fingers to a diameter of about 10 cm. Make it thick in the center and thin around the edges.
- Place anko in the center of the dough.
- Wrap the anko in the dough and close tightly to form a round.
- Prepare a pan and steamer.
- Lay out a parchment paper and place the buns in it.
- Steam on high heat for 3 minutes, then turn down to medium heat and steam for 5 minutes.
- If baking soda is added when the buns are still hot, the heat will break down the baking soda, making it difficult for the buns to expand. Let it cool down thoroughly.