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Bento Recipes: An Pan, Cafeteria Roll variant


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After the first time I made cafeteria rolls a friend and I went to the local Asian grocery. As usual, I picked up a few freshly-baked an pan. And when I ate it afterward I realized that the bread was not really so sweet... and that, in fact, it was very similar to the cafeteria rolls I had just made. So I tried making a batch of an pan using cafeteria roll dough, and lo and behold, the result was a batch of tasty an pan that didn't drive me crazy with split seams! So, here's the how-to. If you want the original an pan recipe, here it is.

First, make a batch of cafeteria roll dough. Then, instead of shaping it into balls, make rounds, put anko in them, and seal them up. The amount of anko and the size of the rolls are entirely up to you; they scale up and down nicely. The one thing is that if you stretch the dough too thin it might rise unevenly, creating a cratered appearance. That's only a cosmetic issue, however. I like to make two rounds per roll - make one on the cutting board, spoon some anko onto it, then cover it with another round. Press down with your finger all around the edges to mash them together real good.

Put these rolls on a lightly greased cookie sheet and let them rise until they double in size. That takes about 45 minutes. It helps if you put the sheet in a warm place, like the oven after it has been heated up just a tiny bit, not enough to start baking. (I turn mine on to 300, leave it on for a minute, then turn it off and check the inside temperature. If it feels hot I let the door stand open until it cools down; if it's merely warm, I put the sheet in.)

When the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then bake the rolls for around 12 minutes, or more or less depending on how brown you want the things to be.

If, like me, you tend to make several things in one batch, you can distinguish between them by putting something on top. For example, when making plain cafeteria rolls and an pan I put toasted sesame seeds on top of the an pan and dust the tops of the cafeteria rolls with flour ala white mountain bread.

A fun variation to try is steaming the bread instead of baking it. Follow the regular directions until it comes to the baking part, and from there just steam it for 20 minutes, ala the steamed buns recipe. The bread will be denser, and lack a crust.