This page is the blow-by-blow of my adventures making
an pan for the first time. I have never made anything
breadlike from scratch ever in my whole life, so I knew
that this was going to be a learning experience. Little
did I know how much I had to learn! I've written this
as a set of directions, because if I write it in the
past tense, describing my travails in the first person,
I'll be forced to relive them and probably break down crying.
What you'll need (makes 3 dozen!):
1 package of dried, active yeast
1/4 cup of
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 cups of flour
yolk or melted butter (optional - bun coating)
sesame seeds (see above)
2.5 cups of anko, canned
Wax paper or some other surface for
working the dough
A free afternoon
Look at the list and read the recipe over. Make note
of anything you need - some more flour, as you're almost
out, and eggs, and yeast, and shortening. And mixing
bowls, because otherwise you'd be mixing things in cooking
pots. Go out to the grocery store and buy the stuff,
then skip merrily home, gleefully anticipating some
hours of work and a yummy reward.
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. Keep
mixing because the last few lumps don't seem to wanna
mix. Mush them up. That gets them to mix. Mostly.
Let it cool to lukewarm. Then pour in the yeast mixture.
Beat the two eggs and mix 'em in. Then add flour. Start
with the package you already had, which has 2 cups left.
Put that in and mix. Then get the package you just bought...
where is it? You set all the things you were going to
use on the counter before putting the other stuff away!
What happened to the flour you know you bought? Did
you leave it in the cart, or leave the bag in the store?
It's not here! Get annoyed with yourself for being such
a dingbat and run out and buy another package of flour.
Get back home and measure off the rest of the flour,
hoping that the 20 minute wait won't screw things up.
Mix. Mix. It doesn't get as smooth as you think it should,
but what do you know about dough that doesn't come in
a stick and isn't for chocolate chip cookies?
Decide that it's as good as it's gonna get and dump
it onto the floured wax paper. Do the massagey stuff
that you assume is the way to knead bread. The goo sticks
to your fingers, making your hands get bigger and bigger
very rapidly. Scrape off the excess dough, mush it back
into the main mass, and wash your hands in the sink.
As you're turning away from the sink and drying your
hands with a paper towel, knock over the flour bag.
It will hit the floor like a small bomb and toss more
flour around than it could possibly contain.
Leave the bag and all the flour where it is, except
for the stuff you know you will track all over the kitchen.
Go back to the dough. Knead it until it starts looking
like dough ought to. More or less. It's a bit fissured,
but what the hey. Grease the largest of the bowls and
put the dough inside. Discover that you can roll the
dough around inside by moving the bowl in complex patterns.
Congratulate yourself on your cleverness. Then put the
bowl down with a cookie sheet on top so it can rise.
That leaves the next 60 to 90 minutes free. Use the
first part in cleaning up the spilled flour. Find out
that a Dustbuster ain't nowhere near equal to the task.
Broom, pan, paper towels. Flour has gluelike properties
when moistened, and it exhibits them now. Cuss some
more. When you're done with that, eat a Snicker's bar
because you're bloody frustrated. Then change out of
the floury clothes and play Dance Dance Revolution,
workout mode, to burn off those 240 calories, which you
did not need.
After an hour check the dough. It hasn't doubled
its size. Play more DDR while waiting. At 90 minutes
decide it's big enough. Wash up and then punch the dough
down. It feels good to smack that stuff around!
Then roll it back into a ball and wait for 10 more minutes.
Use the time to grease one cookie sheet. Three dozen
rolls will take more than one sheet, but you can bake
them in shifts, no problem.
Glance into the cabinet and see, right next to some
cereal and other boxed food... you guessed it, the missing
bag of flour. It was here all along, and if you'd just
looked up there you wouldn't have had to run out to
the grocery store! Feeling like a double dumbhead, you
blame it on invisible elves, the same ones that hide
Lightly flour your hands and the wax paper
with some of the flour from the open sack that actually
didn't spill out. Pull out a walnut-sized glob
of dough. Roll it into a ball and flatten it into
a circle on the waxed paper. Put a tablespoon of anko
in the center and pull the dough over it, pinching the
edges shut. The edges don't stay shut too securely.
Pinch again, then try to make the resulting square
round by gently rolling it between your hands. The result
is a rounded square. Whatever. Put it on the cookie
sheet, seam side down, so the top will look all pretty.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, periodically shaking more flour
onto the waxed paper. After a while get bored with the
same shape and size and start doing little variations.
When the first cookie sheet is covered by 12 of these
things, look in dismay at the dough in the bowl. How
many does this recipe make? Why didn't you make a half
batch? You will start feeling tired. Thinking it's just
tedium setting in, so press onward. Brush the egg yolk
over the backs of the things on the sheet, then dribble
sesame seeds over them. Set 'em aside. Pull out another
sheet of waxed paper to put more buns on. Roll, flatten,
fill, pinch, repeat.
Realize that you not only feel tired, you feel queasy.
Get some ginger ale, which is great for upset stomachs,
and sip that. Wash hands again, then continue with the
dough. And after a little longer realize that you feel
weak and are having cold flashes and your hearing is
getting weird - all symptoms of a near-fainting
spell you recently experienced. Quickly wash your hands, hoping
you can finish before keeling over. Get
in bed and put your legs up on thick pillows to get
the blood to flow to your heart, like the doctor told
you to. Nap a little. Get up when you feel better, about
a half hour later, you think but aren't sure.
You really won't want to go back to the kitchen now,
but you are not abandoning this recipe halfway!
Not after all you've been through! Go back down, feeling
icky but at least not about to faint, and continue rolling.
Notice that the dough has risen significacantly while
you were away. Any more and you'd have to peel it off
the ceiling. Make the rest of the rolls, and brush them
all with egg yolk, and sprinkle them all with sesame
Almost done! Feeling better now, preheat the oven
to 375 degrees. The first batch has had, you estimate,
45 minutes to rise, counting your nappytime. After putting
the mixing bowls and other stuff you no longer need
in the dishwasher, stick the first cookie sheet in the
oven to bake for 15 minutes. Wash hands again, then sit down and read from
a good book.
The book is a little too good, because you open the
oven 20 minutes later instead of 15, and the rolls are
dark brown. Arrgh! And a few have anko bubbling
out of split seams. Take them out, transfer the buns
with a spatula to a dinner plate to cool, and scrape
off the anko that spilled. Then put the next batch
onto the cookie sheet. Which is not as easy as you'd
imagined, because some of that yolk glaze has trickled
down, wet the dough where it came in contact with waxed
paper, and formed a firm bond. Pull them off,
trying not to split any more seams than the many that
have already popped open. Some come with only a little
quiet persuasion. Some take more work, and end
up messier. Pinch them closed as best you can, wondering
how dough can stick so firmly to waxed paper but refuse
to adhere to itself, and shove 'em in the oven. Taste
one of the burned-looking ones, and nearly faint with
surprise when it actually tastes close to the way it
should! Burn your mouth on the hot anko filling while
you're at it.
15 minutes later to the dot, take the next sheet
out. Lots of split seams in this batch, and the glazing
has gotten kinda weird where you mushed it up while
trying to close the seams. But the color is better,
golden tan instead of brown. Good enough. Move half
of these to the same plate that houses the first batch,
then get out another dinner plate. Wonder how in the
world you're going to eat all these. Plan to take some
to the office on Monday and bring some for your
RHPS cast that night.
Put the last batch on the cookie sheet. This time
it's even worse, because those things are glued on firmly!
Buy by now you're tired and you don't care if they're
all pretty. Yank 'em off and mush 'em closed as
best you can, which means lots of gaping seams. Forget
it! You decide to call the ones that come out looking
weird 'Igors," meaning they're ugly and misshapen-looking,
but otherwise functional.
Wait 15 minutes. Pass the time by reading and sampling
some of the smaller rolls of various colors and degrees
of seamsplittedness. They are all good, which gives
you relief so immense you almost don't mind burning
your mouth again.
Take out the final batch. Man, a lot of these are
just plain ugly. Whatever. To the plate with them. Shut
off the dang oven, put the dang sheet in the dang dishwasher,
and get out of the dang kitchen. It's four and a half
hours after you originally started, and you've had enough.
There. All that really happened. And despite everything
that happened, the an pan still came out well.
Quite tasty, in fact. So, learn from my mistakes, and
be comforted that if I can fail to wreck this recipe
despite all my attempts, surely anyone else can