Bookish Baking

Bookish Baking: Chihiro’s Anpan (Spirited Away)


  • 1 cup warm water (+ more water for the steamer)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable  or canola oil
  • 2 cups cake flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar (+ a extra for the yeast)
  • Desired filling (such as): red bean paste or Nutella (for sweet) or cooked pork, mixed vegetables or chicken (for savory)


  • Dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in the warm water.
  • Add yeast to the warm water once sugar is dissolved. Let it sit (covered with a dish towel) for a few minutes. It should look foamy when the yeast is finished eating the sugar.
  • Whisk oil into the yeast mixture. Add white vinegar.
  • Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and combine by hand. Knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky.
    • Or, in a stand mixer, knead for 6-8 minutes at slow speed.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, covered with a dish towel, for about an hour.
  • Sprinkle a tiny bit flour on the (clean) counter. Roll the dough into log. Cut the log into portions depending on the amount of buns you’d like to make.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Set up your steamer or streaming tray (for rice cookers, etc.) as per the directions of your device. Layer strips of parchment paper along the bottom (these will help you remove the buns once they are cooked).
  • Flatten each ball of dough, and spoon a mound of your desired filling into the center.
  • Gather the sides together, making pleats in the dough, until thee edges gather together at the top of the bun. Twist and pinch the dough together to seal the top.
  • Place the buns seam-side down in the steamer basket. They should be about 1 inch apart.
  • Steam for about 15 minutes. Less if the steamer is not particularly full and the buns are small.
  • Remove the buns and let them cool before eating.


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