My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipes: An Pan


Back to the
or the


"An pan" is buns filled with sweet bean paste. "An" = red bean jam, aka anko. Pan = bread. Bean bread. Doesn't sound tasty, but this is good for snacks or desserts.

I now have two or three versions of this recipe. The simple "how to make it" version is on this page right here. If, however, you'd like to read the blow-by-blow comedy of errors that was my first attempt at making an pan, here it is. The third recipe uses cafeteria roll dough, which is not so sweeeeet.

What you'll need (makes 3 dozen!):

    1 package of dried, active yeast
    1/4 cup of warm water
    1 cup of boiling water
    3 tablespoons of shortening
    1 cup of sugar
    3/4 teaspoon of salt
    2 eggs
    4 1/2 cups of flour
    1 egg yolk or melted butter (optional - bun coating)
    Toasted sesame seeds (see above)
    2.5 cups of anko, canned is easiest
    Wax paper or some other surface for working the dough
    A free afternoon

Mix the yeast with the warm water in a cup. In a large mixing bowl combine the boiling water, shortening, sugar, and salt. Mix well to melt the shortening. Let it cool to lukewarm. Then pour in the yeast mixture. Beat the two eggs and mix 'em in. Then add flour until you have soft, smooth dough. (You may need a little more flour than the 4.5 cups I listed. Another half-cup ought to be enough.)

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. Wax paper is a good idea. Then grease a large bowl lightly and put the dough in. Turn the dough so the whole surface gets a little grease. (You can swing the bowl around in a circular fashion to rotate the dough inside.) Then cover the bowl and leave it alone for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough has risen and doubled its size.

Punch the dough down.  Literally, smack it down with your fist to deflate that ball! Then roll it back into a ball shape and cover. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Grease a cookie sheet or three while you're waiting.

Now comes the fun (read: tedious) part. Flour your hands and the wax paper lightly, and have more flour ready to use. Pull out walnut-sized globs of dough. Roll them into balls; flatten them into circles. Put a tablespoon of anko in the center and pull the dough over it, pinching the edges shut. (Sometimes the edges don't want to stay together. Pinch well!) Flatten the dough ball a little and place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

I had a bit of fun varying the shapes and sizes I made. You can put one round down, put a lot of bean paste on it, and cover it with another round to make a big bun. You can make little ones, and fold the dough up envelope style, or make little triangles, or whatever. At this point anything to relieve the boredom will be welcome, believe me. And you can customize them so they'll just fit in a bento box compartment.

After all this is done check over the batch. Pinch together any split seams. Then leave it all alone for 45 minutes to an hour so they can rise some more. They should double their size again. When they have, pinch any seams together that have come apart again. If you're going to glaze them, either beat an egg yolk in a tablespoon of water or melt some butter and brush it over the tops of the buns-to-be. Then sprinkle sesame seeds on the tops.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and bake the buns for 15 minutes. Ideally they will be only lightly browned. If you leave them in for 20 minutes they form a dark crust, but they still taste fine.