sweet bean cake

I realize the combination “sweet bean” and “cake” may sound a little odd, but in Japanese okashi confectionary cuisine, sweetened adzuki  beans are a traditional flavor in treats such as pastries, buns, taiyaki, and sticky red bean mochi cakes. This cake is a beautiful tribute to the sugar-dusted, jem-like sweet beans that are pressed into the cake halfway through baking. The cake itself is more akin to a torte–a simple batter made from butter, sugar, and eggs with a splash of rum to spice things up–but looks lovely and classy in a square pan. It’s a light, delicate treat for an afternoon coffee, which is exactly how I shared it with my wonderful fellows at the Koriyama City Hall Board of Education. 

The recipe comes from my beloved “tiny stick cake recipe book” I first discovered at the library, and then promptly went to purchase for my own use after falling in love with the adorable wrapping and bite-size confections. If you’re making this outside of Japan, you may have to venture out to an Asian food market to find the Amanatto, or sweet beans, but here they’re readily available in any supermarket in the okashi snack aisle. I also used a special 15cm x 15cm cake pan with a removable bottom, but if you have a comparable size tart pan or springform pan, those would work just as well. 

Sweet Bean Cake

70 grams flour
40 grams powdered sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
60 grams butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 TB rum
1/3 Cup sweet beans
Preheat oven to 180˚ C. Butter a 15cm square pan or other comparable pan (see note above) and line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar with a spatula until light and fluffy. In a separate small bowl, beat egg lightly and combine 1/3 of beaten egg with 1 TB flour. Add mixture to butter and sugar and stir to combine. Repeat by mixing 1/3 egg with 1 TB flour and adding to batter. Add remaining egg and rum; stir to combine. Add remaining flour and baking powder and mix until fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Fold in 1/4 of the sweet beans and spread batter evenly into pan. Bake for 5 minutes, and remove from oven and press the remaining beans into the top of the cake. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until cake is golden and tester comes out clean. Remove cake from pan by lifting edges of paper lining, and cool on a wire rack. Cut into desired number of slices, and serve at room temperature.

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