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Swirl Bread with Sweet Bean Paste

April 17, 2012

Monday was the day to make bread for the rest of the week, so I made two loaves, one with sweet bean paste  (anko) and one plain but with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. I was inspired by a bread recipe that I saw lately in Cooks Illustrated for Cinnamon Swirl Bread. In the recipe, it made mention of shokupan, a Japanese bread that I’ve tried to make several times. It’s not hard to make white bread with lots of butter and sugar, but the shape of shokupan is sort of unique in that it is a perfectly rectangular loaf that is made in a covered bread pan (which I don’t have). So, I decided to make a shokupan-type bread, but take the suggestion of the Cooks recipe to make a swirl bread with anko bean filling.

Can you tell that the loaf is slightly green from the matcha tea powder? It didn’t turn bright green like I had hoped, but I’m sure if you added a full tablespoon of matcha powder that would do it.

The bread was springy and fluffy, perfect for toast and sandwiches. It definitely has the taste of the Japanese shokupan too, sweet and buttery. I always knead my bread really well to develop the gluten and let it rise three times. This produces bread that has a good “chew” and is less crumbly.

Swirl Bread with Sweet Bean Filling


White Sandwich Bread

Makes 1 loaf of each

1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast

1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees)

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 large egg

3 ½ – 4 cups bread flour

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten

¾ cup nonfat milk powder

8 tablespoons butter, chilled

1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing over bread before baking

For the Swirl Bread

1 teaspoon matcha tea powder

½ cup sweet bean paste (anko)

For for sesame bread

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1. Heat the water to 110 degrees. Take 2 tablespoons of the water and dissolve the yeast into it. To the rest of the heated water, add the sugar, salt and egg. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.

2. In a large bowl, measure out the flour, starting with 3 ½ cups (you can add more later), the wheat gluten and the milk powder.

3. Add the liquid ingredients and the dissolved yeast to the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. It will be very sticky at first. After mixing thoroughly, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and begin to knead the dough by slapping it against the counter and turning it over onto itself and pushing it down with the palm of your hands. Add more flour if it’s still very sticky, but resist adding too much at one time. When the gluten develops in the dough, it will naturally become more elastic and cohesive. This will take 5-10 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time to the dough, smearing it into the dough. The dough will be sticky at first, but as the butter gets absorbed into the dough, it will become less greasy.

4. Divide the dough in two. Add the matcha tea powder to one part and knead it in until it is thoroughly mixed. Place the dough into two bowls and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Keep it in a warm place for 3 hours or until the dough has tripled in volume.

5. After the first rise, punch the dough down to release air bubbles. Let it rise again for an hour.

6. Punch it down again after the second rise. For the plain loaf, place it in a greased pan and cover loosely and set it a warm place. For the swirl loaf, roll the dough out into a 7 by 18 inch rectangle. Spread the sweet bean paste leaving a ½ border around all sides. With the short end facing you, roll it away from you to the other side. Pinch to seal the seams and the ends. Using a sharp knife, cut the loaf lengthwise down the middle. Expose the cut sides and lay them facing up. Pinch the ends together to secure and take the right strip of dough and lay it over the left. Do this one more time until you reach the end of the braid and pinch the ends together. Lay the braid carefully in a greased bread pan and cover loosely. Let the two loaves rise until they are about one inch higher than the lip of the pan.

7. Lightly brush the beaten egg over the two loaves. For the plain loaf, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and tent the loaves with tin foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake for another 15 minutes. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before removing them from the pan. Wait at least one hour before slicing them.


From → Dessert, Recipes, Snacks

  1. Gale permalink

    looks beautiful and yummy!

    • Thanks, Gale. You can be a guest on this blog with one of your desserts (Japanese-inspired, please).

  2. that’s beautiful and I love the idea of the bean paste.

    • The bean paste really works – I was surprised.


  3. Bean paste is so popular all over in Japanese recipes. It is good for ice cream topping.

    • I also made daifuku with anko paste. It was good!


  4. I love Japanese shokupan, and basically anything that comes from a Japanese bakery. 🙂 Your swirl bread looks delicious and my Mom would love the anko swirl! I’m not a huge fan of anko but I’m growing to like it more these days. I’m glad you found my blog – so that I could find yours in return. I love all of your recipes too – very similar to the types of foods my Mom cooked for us when we were growing up. I was born in California but my Mom was born in Japanese and raised us very Japanese.

    • Thanks Judy. Yes, I’m trying to make this blog about Japanese home cooking as much as I can – but I still have so much to learn!

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