February 02, 2016

Braided Red Bean Bread ~ #TwelveLoaves

There really is something magical about making your own bread, whether it is the tactile feel of the dough in your hands or the smell of a fresh-baked loaf coming out of the oven.  The theme for #TwelveLoaves this month is Red, and this post is a tale of what can happen if you just have a little faith in what you can create.
At first the idea of coming up with something red had me stumped, and then I remembered a favorite pastry from Australia that seemed like a good idea.  However, I realized the the only red came from the jam filling, and that did not really seem to me like it would fit the theme. Then I realized that the idea was staring me right in the face - red bean paste. Honolulu has a large Asian population and the variety of cuisines is a delicious adventure if you know where to go.  Red beans show up in all manner of desserts - shave ice, manju, ice cream and mochi to name a few.  You could make your own red bean paste, but I went the easy route and purchased a can of sweetened red beans and pureed them into a paste.  Red bean tastes a little sweet, but also has an earthy quality to it, which I think is very tasty.

I found the recipe I wanted to try and set about measuring all of the quantities, and quickly had the dough mixed and proofing.  The fun part came when I started rolling it out and spreading the filling on the rectangle of dough.  Learn from my mistake - if you place too much filling and then try to roll it out it will come oozing out the top, bottom, sides and anywhere else there is a puka.  It is a big mess and I almost gave up and threw the first loaf out, knowing that I had another half of the dough to work with. Something inside me said to keep going and just see what happens.  Also, I really hate wasting anything, so in the worse case scenario the bread wouldn't be that pretty but we could still eat it. However the bread went from something resembling a limp rag to something not half bad after it had risen.  The really funny part is that even though the second loaf was not over-filled, my braiding skills had gotten a little better, and it was a nice fat loaf, it did not have the obvious ribbons of red bean paste running through it. Go figure. Braiding may have had something to do with this, but there is also a fine line between over-filling and under-filling a loaf.

I'm pretty sure I have found my new go-to bread recipe.  The dough is so soft and pillow-y and I keep thinking about all the different fillings I could try.  When you keep thinking about something you just made, and can't wait to make it again it's a winner. One note, I do live in a warm and sometimes humid climate so I did add an extra half a cup of bread flour.  If you find that the dough is super sticky, and sticking to the side of the bowl, then add a quarter of a cup of flour at a time until the dough forms a slightly sticky ball that mostly sticks to the dough hook at it is kneading. Another rookie mistake I made was to not twist the dough enough when I was braiding it, which meant that the finished loaf did not quite show all the layers of red bean paste.

We finished the last of the bread tonight, warming it up in the oven and then having it with some soup. This may seem weird because red bean paste is on the sweeter side, but I have to say it worked. Maybe we just enjoyed it so much that it really didn't matter.  All bread should be this good.

I'm posting a couple of extra photos just to show my beautiful ugly duckling :)

If you would like to know more about #TwelveLoaves and see what the other bakers made for the New-to-You Flour Breads theme please scroll down below the recipe. Thanks to Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen for getting us all organized for this month.

Braided Red Bean Bread
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Bread ~ 
  • 140ml heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 240ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 70g sugar
  • 55g cake flour
  • 500g bread flour
  • 10g active dry yeast
  • 10g teaspoons salt
  • ½ a can red adzuki beans
Egg Wash ~
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
Simple Syrup ~
  • 2 teaspoons
  • 2 teaspoons hot water

Bread ~
  1. Place cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
  2. Turn on the mixer to “stir " to combine all of the ingredients, let it continue kneading for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together. The dough should be moist, but not so sticky that it sticks excessively to the bowl or dough hook.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil. Cover the bowl with a hand towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot for one hour, during this time the dough should grow to one and a half times its original size.
  4. While the dough is proofing make the red bean paste by placing the red beans in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until the mixture forms a mostly smooth paste.
  5. Grease two standard loaf pan on all sides with butter.
  6. Once the dough has proofed put it back in the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles.
  7. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and cut it in half.
  8. Take the one half of the dough and shape into a rectangle, rolling out to a little less than 20mm thickness with a floured rolling pin, maintaining a rectangle shape.
  9. Place a few tablespoons of red bean paste and spread over the center of the rectangle, leaving a few inches on either side of the rectangle and one inch along the top and bottom. The paste should be spread to about 3mm thickness.
  10. Fold over each side of the rectangle so a seam runs down the center of the dough. Pinch all the open edges tightly closed.
  11. Gently roll out the dough to flatten the seams and make the rectangle of dough roughly as large as it was when you started.
  12. Then, fold the dough into thirds (like you would if you were folding a piece of paper to put into an envelope).
  13. Roll it out into a rectangle once more, adding more flour to the dough/board as needed.
  14. Repeat the step of folding the dough into thirds, but this time, roll it out just so that the layers press together and the piece of dough is the length of the loaf pan.
  15. Make two lengthwise cuts in the dough so you have three segments.
  16. Braid the pieces, twisting slightly so that the layered sides face up, so that you end up with a pattern when the bread bakes. 
  17. Pinch the ends of the braided dough together and gently place into your buttered loaf pan.
  18. Repeat these steps with the second half of the dough.
  19. Place the loaf tins in a warm place and allow the loaves to proof for another hour. 
  20. Preheat the oven to 180℃
  21. Brush the risen dough with egg wash, and bake the loaves for approximately 30-40 minutes.
  22. Make the simple syrup whilst bread is baking.
  23. Remove from the oven and brush the bread with simple syrup to glaze both.

Egg Wash ~
  1. Place egg and water in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.
Simple Syrup ~
  1. Place sugar and hot water in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Recipe inspired by The Woks of Life
For US measurements please click here

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, which runs smoothly with the help of our bakers. This month we'll be baking breads with a RED theme in honor of National Heart Month, Valentine's Day, and the Oscars (red carpet) - any red ingredient goes! For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves enter last month's breads featuring a "new to you" type of flour!


  1. Perfection Felice! And yes nothing like homemade bread =)

  2. There is nothing ugly duckling about this bread! It's gorgeous! I need to figure out how to find a can of those beans!

  3. Totally gorgeous, no ugly duckling :-) I thought of using red bean paste and now I will for sure at another time with this recipe.

  4. That looks like an amazing loaf! Love the red bean flavor too :)

  5. I love the direction you took! First of all, both of those braids look beautiful to me - I like the bigger and smaller swirls, so pretty either way. And red bean paste is something I love, but don't use often enough.


Thanks for visiting my blog. I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment.