Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Birthday Treat for Mom: Dorayaki

When I was young, every December we'd pile into the car and make the big drive from Puyallup to Seattle to shop at Uwajimaya, a large Asian grocery and gift store.  Mom would stock up on ingredients not readily found in our local stores.  My brothers and I would fill up our baskets with delicious Japanese snacks and sweets, and Dorayaki was one of my favorites.

What is Dorayaki?  Quite simply it's a pancake sandwich that's filled with a sweet red bean paste called Anko.  In Japan it's a popular treat to have with your tea.  My mom loves them, so I decided to make some for her birthday.

Anko is made with tiny beans called Adzuki beans.  When I was a kid a lot of Japanese ingredients weren't easily sourced in the US, so my mom had to make substitutions.  She would substitute the Adzuki with small kidney beans, and I have to admit I still prefer the kidney beans.

The Adzuki beans are actually boiled twice.  After the first quick boil, they're drained, rinsed, and then returned to boil again for a longer time until they are squishably soft.

Now comes the sugar, and I mean a lot of sugar!  Recipes I've seen specify anywhere from 3/4 cup to two cups!  The recipe I used called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar but I just used one.

At this stage the beans are soft, and the sugar has melted.  My mom would stop cooking at this point, and we'd eat the beans like a sweet stew.

But we're making Anko, so continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken.  You'll know it's time to stop when the bottom of the pan can be seen while stirring (about 10 minutes).  The beans will continue to thicken as it cools.

Pour the beans into a pan to cool, and then store the paste in a sealed container.  Anko will last for a few days in the refrigerator, or a few months in the freezer.  Spoon some into a bowl and top with green tea ice cream, or roll into a small ball and cover with Mochi to make Daifuku.  Today we're making Dorayaki so let's continue.

While these little, flat, round cakes may resemble pancakes, they are much sweeter, and have a chewier, slightly sticky texture.  Traditional recipes call for milk and honey but since I had neither I substituted with soy milk and agave nectar.

After the eggs, sugar and agave are well combined, whisk in the soy milk.

Combine the flour and baking soda, and then add to the wet ingredients in one batch.

Unlike pancake batter, we do not want any lumps here.  Continue to whisk until you have a smooth, thickened batter, and then let it rest for a few minutes while the pan heats up.

Make sure to use a non-stick pan, and coat with a neutral oil (I used canola).  With a paper towel wipe away most of the excess oil.  You'll want small cakes so use about 1/4 cup to make two cakes.  I found it easier to put the batter into a glass measuring cup, and pour little dollops, measuring by eye.  Be careful when turning because they are sticky.  Wipe the pan with a greased, folded paper towel after each batch.

To keep the cakes moist while you finish cooking all the batter, store them on a plate and cover with a wet paper towel.  I used my tortilla warmer, and it worked great (that's the brown covered container in the background).  When you're ready to assemble the Dorayaki, place 1 to 2 tablespoons of Anko (depending on the size of your cakes) on one side and cover with a second cake.  Wrap the Dorayaki in cling wrap, leaving one edge open to allow the air to be expelled, and gently, but firmly, press cakes together.  Pinch around the edges of the cakes to help seal them together.  Wrap the last edge of cling wrap around the cake, and refrigerate until you're ready to eat.

These cakes are delicious all on their own without any filling.  Try some dusted with powdered sugar and berries.  Sprinkle some sliced fruit over the cakes with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.  Wrap them around some ice cream for an ice cream sandwich.  There are lots of possibilities, but I think my mom was happy with the Dorayaki.  


1 cup Adzuki beans
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt

Sort and rinse beans.  Place beans in pot with 2 to 3 cups of water.  Bring to boil over medium heat, and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans well.  This step will help to remove bitterness from the beans.  Wash out pot, add beans, 2 to 3 cups of fresh water, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce to low, and cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding water if necessary, until beans are very soft.  Drain beans, return to pot, and add the sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened (about 10 minutes).  Pour bean mixture onto pan or platter, and when cooled, place in a sealable container and refrigerate.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar
3/4 cup Soy Milk

In a small bowl combine flour and baking soda.  In a large separate bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and agave.  Add Soy milk, and mix well.  Add flour mixture, and mix until smooth.  

Heat nonstick pan on medium heat, add a small amount of oil, and wipe away excess.  Use 1/8 cup batter per pancake.  Cook until bubbles appear (about 2 minutes), and gently flip taking care not to squish or tear pancakes.  Cook on other side for another minute and remove from pan.  Keep cakes moist by storing on platter and cover with wet paper towel.  

Place one or two tablespoons of Anko on a cake, and top with another cake.  Wrap in plastic cling wrap and gently press cakes together, and then pinch edges together.  Dorayaki will keep for a few days in the fridge, or a few months in the freezer.  

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