Yes, I succumbed to the pressure of making something for Valentine’s Day.
I followed my heart. I have always tried to follow my heart.
I’ve always wondered where this figurative heart is. Does it have anything to do with the actual heart? When people say their hearts are broken, what does that mean, and does the actual physical heart get affected?
Some people follow their head. The figurative head is where your thoughts are, which is physically where your brain is. But where is your figurative heart? Also in your head where your brain is? Because where else would it be? Sometimes I wish we could find answers for these questions.
But in the meantime, I think it’s wise follow your heart. And to celebrate love. Happy Valentine’s Day!
adzuki heart buns
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, lukewarm, around 110 degrees F.
1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar, separated
1/2 stick (2 ounces unsalted butter) melted but cooled
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup adzuki bean paste (prepared or homemade. I used a product from the Philippines that was already sweetened, but it was still whole beans, so I briefly processed it in a food processor.)
4 Tablespoons + 2 Tablespoons honey, for glazing after buns come out of the oven.
In a small bowl, add the milk and 1 tsp. of sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast to this and let the yeast bloom. If it doesn’t get frothy, discard and start over. After about 10 minutes, it should definitely look frothy or foamy.
While bowl yeast and milk/sugar is sitting, undisturbed. Whisk egg in a small bowl. Melt butter in microwave until just melted and let cool down, but don’t let it solidify. Sift flour and salt into a mixer or stir with a whisk in a bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. If using a hands, put the flour/salt mixture in a bowl, make a small well in the center and add the egg, butter, and yeasted milk mixture and start stirring with a wooden spoon, or your hands. Knead into a dough for 15 minutes.
If using a stand mixer, make a well and add the egg, butter, and milk/yeast mixture and mix on medium for about 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides shortly after adding to ensure that everything is incorporated evenly to the dough. The dough should be smooth, elastic, slightly sticky. If a little too sticky, add a small amount of flour.
Try not to add too much flour, so use just a tablespoon at a time. You shouldn’t need to add more than 1/4 cup of flour.
Remove from bowl and knead a little, then roll into a ball, and place in a greased stainless steel bowl, turning once to coat the whole ball. Place a plastic securely over the bowl and leave in a warm place without a breeze, undisturbed for about an hour until doubled in size.
Divide into however many pieces of dough you want, depending on how many buns you want. I made 9 buns, so I divided the dough to 9 pieces, with each piece weighing a little over 2 ounces.
Flatten each piece of dough with your fingers, like you are making a little pizza, about the size of an individual slice of sandwich bread. Slather about 2 teaspoons of adzuki paste and roll from the top down. You should have a sausage-shaped, rolled up piece of dough lying horizontally in front of you on your work surface. Bring one end to the other, effectively folding it in half. Pinch the two ends together like a point, which will become the bottom of the heart. On the other end, slice a horizontal cut about 1-inch long, and fan the two sides created like a heart.. For a visual, watch this video here.
Arrange each bun unto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, giving at least 2 inches space between each bun. I usually let them things like this sit for 10 minutes, just in case the dough might still need to rise. It looks like it’s ready to bake when I make an indentation with my finger and it still springs back, but not as rapidly as before.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes. You want to see some browning at the top, but not too much. Immediately brush with the honey/butter mixture. Let cool somewhat before serving.