Manju: Japanese Steamed Cake With Sweet Red Bean Filling

manju steamed bun with red bean paste filling
SUNGSU HAN / Getty Images
Ratings (12)
  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 12 pieces
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
145 Calories
1g Fat
10g Carbs
25g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Manju is one variety of the myriad of Japanese sweets, or wagashi, available for enjoyment. Manju is a round steamed cake which is typically filled with a sweet red bean filling. It differs from the otherwise popular mochi, or rice cake, which at times also is filled with a sweet red bean filling, in that the manju is made of wheat, rice, or another type of flour and has a cake-like consistency versus the chewy and stickier mochi rice cake which is made of glutinous flours.

Traditional manju filling consists of a sweet red bean filling, known as anko, also referred to as tsubuan , for red bean paste with a coarse texture, or koshian , for red bean paste with a smooth texture. However, manju fillings are not limited to sweet red bean paste and may include fillings made of creams, such as vanilla, chocolate, or even flavored creams such as strawberry, mango, blueberry, or yuzu. Other fillings may include fillings made of sweet chestnut paste or white beans.

While there are several options for different manju fillings, there are also different flavors available for the exterior manju cake. The most popular option is a matcha or green tea flavored cake. Other flavors may depend on the region of Japan from which the manju originates. Almost every region of Japan has their own specific version of manju.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 2/3 - 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 pound anko (or koshian, smooth red bean paste)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large bowl, sift flour and baking powder together.

  2. Next, add sugar to the bowl and mix well.

  3. Gradually pour water into the flour, constantly stirring to incorporate ingredients.

  4. Knead the dough well until smooth and pliable.

  5. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Make round balls and flatten them.

  6. Put a spoonful of anko filling in the center of the dough. Wrap the anko by stretching the dough around and then shape it into a round ball. Repeat, to make more.

  7. Place each piece on a small sheet of parchment paper.

  8. Preheat a steamer on high heat. Place cakes in the steamer, and steam for about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tips

  • For sweet red bean filling, you can purchase pre-made anko, or koshian (smooth red bean pasted) from the refrigerated section of Japanese or Asian grocery stores, or in shelf-stable cans.

  • Manju is best enjoyed when eaten immediately after they are made. Most, if refrigerated will not retain their original texture or flavor.

  • A food steamer is typically needed to make manju.​