Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Red Bean Braided Bread

A few nights ago, as usual, just before bedtime, my little one snuggled up beside me...him pretending to fall asleep, and me enjoying some 'quiet moments', flipping through a cookbook I got hold from the library. By the time I got almost to the end of the book, I came across the photo of a braided bread. After reading through the instructions I thought I should give it a try as I have not tried shaping this kind of loaf before. Even though there were no illustrations accompanying the instructions, I was quite confident that I knew what it meant.

I didn't use the recipe from that bread machine cookbook as it was meant for a large loaf. So I went back to this basic sweet bun recipe which apparently was quite well received by a few bloggers who have tried it. For the filling it was none other than red bean paste since I have got a can from Daiso recently.

I used my bread maker to knead the dough as I wasn't really in the mood to do any kneading manually. I set the machine to knead for at least 30mins before letting the dough to proof at room temperature. On hindsight, I should have let the dough proof in the machine, as the weather was quite gloomy and cool, it didn't double in size until 2 hrs later. Thankfully it was one of those rare occasion when I was enjoying a rather leisurely afternoon, and I could afford the time to let it proof forever.

Making the plaits was rather uneventful...something which I didn't expect, as I thought it would be quite a difficult task, although I must admit that the dough was a little soft to handle. The only difficult part was trying to transfer the braided dough onto the baking sheet...I have only myself to blame as I was too lazy to flour my table top before rolling out the dough. I can't remember ever since when I have developed this bad habit?! All else went well, and for once, my elder boy commented that the plaited dough looked very pretty...yes, he actually praised me. I don't know about you, but that was a real big pat on the shoulder.

I must have mentioned several times before that I do not like the glossy appearance on the surface of my I ignored the egg wash completely and simply sprinkled sesame seeds over the surface just before baking. To save myself from the agony of hovering over the oven the entire time the bread was baking, I set the alarm clock and went about to do my chores.

When the baking time was up, I was so pleased to see two nicely puffed up braided bread. There is nothing more satisfying than breathing in the sweet smell of freshly homemade loaves!

Not unlike all my previous postings...I shall end this post with a short review on the taste and texture of this bread. Here's the verdict: I like the slight crisp on the crust and the texture was quite soft. The taste was almost similar to those red bean buns available at the neighbourhood bakery shops. I find the canned red bean paste a little too sweet for my liking, but the sweetness was just right for my kids' palette ;)

(make 2 small loaves)

150g bread flour
150g cake flour
5g active dry yeast (I used instant yeast)
3g salt
125g milk (I used low-fat fresh milk)
1 egg
60g caster sugar
50g butter

red bean paste
white sesame seeds for topping


Kneading by Bread maker:
  1. Place all ingredients into the bread pan according to the sequence as stated in the bread maker. Set to DOUGH function.
  2. Let the machine run for the first 10 mins. Turn off machine, re-start and set to DOUGH function again. Let the machine complete the kneading cycle (20 mins).
  3. Remove dough from bread plan, smooth into a round ball and place it in a lightly greased mixing bowl. Cover with a damp towel or cling wrap. Allow the dough to rise until double in bulk. This will take about 1~1.5 hrs.
  4. Take out the dough and punch out the gas produced. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal portions. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a rectangle, about 12 by 9 inches. Spread red bean paste in a 2~3 inch strip lengthwise down the centre.
  5. On each side of the filling, make 1~1.5 inch wide diagonal cuts in the dough. Starting at the top, fold dough strips over filling, alternating left and right sides. Seal the seams tightly. Repeat the same for the other portion. Transfer both dough on a greased baking tray (or lined with parchment paper), cover with a clean towel and leave to rise for about 45mins.
  6. Glaze with a little beaten egg and a drop of milk (or water). I omitted this step.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 30~35 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degC until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.
Kneading by hand:
  • Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre. Add in milk, egg and butter. Mix into a dough.
  • Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until the gluten is fully developed and the dough is elastic, smooth and non-sticky. It will take about 25~30 mins to knead the dough by hand. Initially the dough will stick on to the work surface. Do not be tempted to add more flour. After continuous kneading, the dough will no longer stick to the work surface.
  • Continue from step 3 above.


KWF said...

HHB, your pleated bread are very nicely & evenly browned. As usual, another pro-looking bread. Thumbs up!

sweet-tooth said...

I agree with your son, this is a really pretty bread!
I'm gonna try this out soon :D

Ag said...

Wow... it looks AMAZING. I've put this on my 'To Bake Challenge List' (I have a fear of yeast, haha).

Anonymous said...

Wow, these are beautiful! Well done!

Sarah said...

Looks beautiful! And very professional too!

Well done.

xox Sarah

cocoa said...

Beautiful bread indeed. I love red bean bread.. not sure when i will have the chance to made this..

Anonymous said...

Yum Yum! i'm tempted to try making them! ^^ thanks for the recipe HHB! :D even without visual demo, u are able to make these pretty bread! really talented! ^^

Ning's Mummy said...

wow.. so beautiful leh... makes me wanna run out to buy some red bean bread to eat now.

Anna said...

This looks so professional! I've not made a lot of bread, but I'd love to have a go - though it probably wouldn't look as good as this! ^__^

Happy Homebaker said...

dear all, thanks for your kind words and encouragement :) Do give this shaping method a try...the plaiting is quite easy done.

Anonymous said...

you did very good on plaiting the bread, HBB. mind if i copy the recipe as i love red bean bread?

NiNo said...


happy 8 march

Aimei said...

This is so lovely! Looks like caterpillar to me. Haha..I have not tried any elaborate shaping thus far, hmm..shall try it some day so that my family will see something different and not those usual boring bakes. LOL!

Anonymous said...


You have such great baking skills. I love this braided bread picture. I'll definitely try to make this bread, but I want to make with a spinach, garlic, and onions filling to make it savory.

Do you think it'll go well with the bread? Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

Hi thr,

I tried your recipe for SweetBun Yesterday. But :( i failed to make a good ones> :( (1)From the ingredients there is butter in the list but thru-out the progress i can't see where should i put it in. Can you tell me which step should i include the Butter?

(2) there is a note from someone saying that we can't add the sugar and salt together with the dried yeast. So when it says "Put all the dried ingredients together" does it mean we put salt and sugar together with the yeast as well??

I'm sorry :( leave such a long question for me as this is my first time baking a bun :O THANKS O!!!

Anne said...

What can I say, you're such a pro when it comes to bread! It's very pretty and I'm one of those people who love your basic recipe for this bread :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Eliza, sure! do give this bread a try, I hope you will like it :)

Thanks Nino!

Aimei, I am sure you will have lots of fun shaping bread, do try it soon!

Hi Christine, although I am no expert in bread making, but I do think that since this is a sweet bread it may not go well with savory fillings? You may want to try other bread recipes that has got less sugar in it? The other recipe that many readers have tried is the one I posted under "Milk Loaf", it has got less sugar in it, you may want to consider that instead. Hope this helps :)

Hi Flower,

My sincere apologies!!! I am so so sorry that I didnt notice I didnt mention when to add in butter!

May I ask how did your bread turned out? what was the texture like? did u make by hand or a bread maker?

(1)I have just updated the can actually add the butter together with the egg and milk, and mix to form a dough. Although some recipes will recommend to add in the butter after you have mix the other ingredients to form a dough. (You may read about it under my other posting on Matcha Red Bean loaf).
(2)For most instructions for bread machines, it is commonly stated that the salt and sugar should not be placed together with the yeast. This is especially so if you are using the delay function. However, whenever I make the dough by hand, I usually mix the dry ingredients together, including the yeast, make a well in the centre and add in the liquid ingredients.

I do hope this helps to clarify some of your doubts...and once again I am so sorry for being the cause of the undesirable outcome of your bread!

sherlyn said...

Wow, as usual, perfect bread and not forgetting the perfect chiffon cake in the previous post. All perfectly browned.

Hope I get the time to bake real soon. You are certainly making me add alot of items to my "to do" list. Luckily fingers still itchy.


Rosie said...

This is so lovely what a wonderful bake. You can't beat homemade bread and yours is stunning!

I just come across your blog by chance and I am SO pleased to have found you.

Rosie :)

Anonymous said...

Hi thr, Thanks again for the recipe:) & nth to sorry bout :)... I made the bread using my hand and I almost gave up kneading the bread cause it didn't look it should be.. But my bf keep saying "the note stated: keep kneading don't give up" hahaha.. so i keep kneading.

The bread turn out not so good. I think it is because i put SUGAR on top which cause the bread BURNT @_@ but my bf said not bad only is a bit hard (i wonder y?) I will try to make it again! :) hehehe.. and will tell you how it turns out to be. Again.. Thank you :)

thecoffeesnob said...

They look so perfect it's hard to believe you're making them for the first time. Oh, what i would give for a slice of it now.

ash said...

I was a silent admirer of this blog for a long time.Two times I tried difft bread recipes from here,but was not excited with the results,may be,as I do the kneading manually.Today, I tried this one &it was a super success,so soft&best looking;my kids really loved it.Thanks dear.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Sherlyn, thanks, and I am looking forward to read about your bakes soon!

Hi Roise, thanks for stopping by! I am so glad that you found me, otherwise I won't be able to find you :) You are a great baker!

dear Flower, yes, this dough recipe has got a high liquid content, and you need alot of kneading before it gets to the right texture. There are many factors contributing to the outcome of the bread. Nevertheless, I am sure your next attempt will be much better! Cheers!

thecoffeesnob, thanks! The shaping is really not that difficult as it's almost full proof :)

Hi Liz, glad to hear from you, as I really welcome your comments and feedback, as this is the way I get to learn! I am so happy to know that you have great success with this recipe! Hope to hear more from you :D

Kenneth said...

The bread you baked is so adorable!

I have never made bread before I got my first bread machine 1 week ago. That bread machine is inexpensive but the reviews on Amazon are quite positive and it seems to be an Ok bread machine.

But every bread I have made so far has very thick and tough crust on the sides and bottom. I have always measured ingredients and followed instructions carefully. Can you tell me where I might have done wrong? Or bread machine always produces breads this way?

Many thanks!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Tianchen,

The breadmachine that I am using is also considered inexpensive, but has got the basic functions. I am no expert in baking, as I am really relatively new in this area, and all those stuff that I baked are all self-taught as I have not attended any baking classes or workshops. As such I don't think I am able to offer much advice. However, I do noticed that whenever I use the breadmachine to bake the loaf, the crust tend to be slightly thicker at the bottom where the heating element is located. However, the rest of the sides are ok. You may have to check that you have selected the correct loaf size and I always set the colour of the crust to the lightest. You may want to try use your breadmachine to knead and proof the dough (use the DOUGH function), but shape, 2nd proof, and bake with your normal oven to test out. If the result is still the same, you may want to consider using other breadmachine recipes. You may want to take a look at this "Crunchy Peanut Butter Bread" or the "Hokkaido Milky Loaf" recipe that I have posted earlier. I used the bread machine entirely to make the bread, and some other bloggers who have tried the same recipes have got good results too. Hope this helps :)

J Kerr said...

Hi happyhomebaker,
Your bread shaping look amazing, i would like to learn from you.Do you have the step by step instruction with picture for shaping? If you have it can you send it to my email- trinity_ker@hotmail
when you mention seal the seams, are you mean that seal it in the middle with alternate strips? and you will see the gap between each strips right?


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Jo, I am afraid I do not have any illustrations on this shaping method...and I didn't manage to take any photos while I was making this loaf. I have no luck with flickr too.
You just need to seal the seams at both ends, not between the strips, and yes, there will be gaps in between the strips and the fillings will be 'exposed'. Hope this helps.

Kenneth said...


Thank you so much for your response. Yes I have set the color to 'light', and the right loaf size I believe. So I guess I will, as you advised, use the dough cycle to make the dough and bake it in the conventional oven. If it turns out to be Ok, it must be the problem with my breadmachine.

Pwincess linfoong said...




Sunshinemom said...

I too have been planning this one for sometime but with crunchy chinese vegetable filling! Yours looks so pretty, I wish I could taste it!!

Anonymous said...



Do you think we can cut down on the sugar, because after adding the red bean, its abit too sweet.


Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anonymous, I am not sure about reducing sugar in bread recipes. I would think it is better to use another bread recipe (which is less sweet) to pair off with red bean paste.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your prompt reply. Can you recommend any of the recipe that uses less sugar ? How about Milk Loaf ?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anonymous, you can try using the dough recipe for the 'Garlic Buns'. I have used it to make Matcha Buns with Chocolate chips. The dough is not sweet. Do let me know after you have tried it :)

Kristie said...

Ur younger son is so sweet to compliment ur work, u must have been on cloud 9!

This braided bun is such a pretty sight, this will be on my to-do list too, thanks :)

Suzanne said...

The bread looks delicious! I am going to attempt it, but should I melt the butter first, or soften it? Thank you!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Suzanne, do not melt the butter, you dont need to soften it too. Happy bread-making!

Anonymous said...

I think it's really generous of you to share your recipes and baking experience with us. Thanks!