I was reading about Tanuki Racoon Dog a few days ago, was fascinated by how this folklore mammal has been deified in Japan as a governing deity of all things in nature (including fertility, protection, purity, trust, etc) and til this day , I still see them in some of the temples in Japan. I had once too came across a little temple in Kyoto where the three monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil) are worshipped as deities too and not to mention the famous celestial fox deity, Kitsune.
Therefore, I decided to make some racoon-faced steamed buns using Hong Kong flour, instead of cake flour in my Imo Manju recipe, and replaced baking powder with yeast. I bought ready-made Hokkaido azuki bean paste from my local Japanese store for the filling.
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 cup warm water (40°C)
1 1/8 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 cups Hong Kong flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup fine palm sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup coco powder
1/2 cup whole milk, warm
- Dissolve some the sugar into the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over it, rest for 2 minutes and stir well and rest for another 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It will start foaming.
- Combine the sifted flour, palm sugar, milk, butter and yeast mixture, knead into a smooth dough for 10 minutes. Separate a quarter of the dough and mix with the sifted coco powder and knead til the colour is well blended in.
- Place the doughs in separate bowl, covered with a cling film. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Transfer the lighter coloured dough onto a clean surface. Cut into 15 equal portions. Shape each in round balls, then use your palm to press it into a disc. Wrap a spoonful filling of the azuki bean paste inside, pinch seam tightly.
- Cut the darker brown dough into smaller balls for the eye mask and shape with a bubble tea straw while pressing down with your fingers, use the straw at the same time to cut out the eyes too. Use the leftover dough from the cut-out eyes for ears, and some more for pupils and nose. Use the white dough for white eye ball. Arrange them onto the lighter coloured buns. Use the back of a pair of small scissors or tweezers to press down on both sides of the nose for whiskers.
- Place the finished bun on a piece of baking paper. Repeat this step with the rest of the dough. Transfer to a steamer/wok, covered, let rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add cold water into steamer/wok. Steam buns over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes.
Since they are all shaped free-hand, the faces will turn out all different, its ok, giving more personality to each racoon bun.