Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baby Hedgehog Buns

I looked and looked and looked for the recipe for these precious bunnies and couldn't find anything. I didn't even know they were made from Japanese manju until I found a reference for it in the middle of another blogger's article on why you can't make these outside of a sweetshop. Manju is the reason why these are so perfectly molded.

Manju is a popular traditional Japanese confection. There are many varieties of manju, but most have an outside made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat and a filling, usually a red bean paste made from boiled azuki beans and sugar. They are boiled together again and kneaded.
Manju is a type of mochi, or pounded rice cake, that has existed in China for a thousand years. It was originally called mantou in Chinese, but became known as manju when it came to Japan. In 1341, a Japanese envoy that came back from China brought back manju with him and started to sell it as Nara-manju. Since then, it has been eaten for nearly 700 years by the Japanese people. Now it can be found in many Japanese sweet shops.
You know, I've made a LOT of food in my life. A lot of very good tasting, beautiful to look at food. Someone made an attempt at making these manju bunnies using regular bread dough and....well.... the reality is not all yummy food looks pretty and not all pretty food tastes yummy. My advice, keep trying, even when your food looks like it's ready to devour your soul. I was inspired by the spiky burnt ears in creating hedgehogs using a conditioned triple raised bread dough. The results were fantastic!

1 tbls salt
1 tbls yeast
1 tbls ginger powder
3 cups warm water, 115*

Stir very well in a 2 gallon lidded container and let sit for fifteen minutes. Ginger is a great natural bread dough conditioner, yeast just loves it, eats it right up. Then add 5 1/2 cups of bread or pastry flour, stirring it in 1 cup at a time. The gluten is what controls the fluffiness, helping to create all of those glorious nooks and crannies. 
Most flour does not have enough gluten to make good quality bread. So don't go for the cheap stuff, spend the extra two dollars. Cover it and let sit to rise for three hours. Uncover and gently with a lightly oiled hand, scrape the dough away from the sides of the container, rolling it into a tighter ball. Reset it in the center of the bottom of the bowl, cover and let rise again over 2 hours. Uncover and repeat the previous step. Let sit over night and then repeat the scrapping down step one more time. Roll out the baby bottom soft dough onto a lightly floured surface. 
Separate the dough into 34 pieces. Roll them in your hands and let them sit on a lightly oiled bake sheet, like this stoneware. Let rise for 20 minutes and then begin to make the multiple cuts on the hedgehogs. Using the tips of the cutlery shears dab in eyes and a nose. Use a toothpick to tuck the currants in place.

Spray the hedgies with olive oil. Bake at 400* for 25 to 30 minutes.

Let sit to cool for at least 10 minutes. Feel free to smack grabby or under-appreciative people.


  1. I have seen these photos all over Facebook. I think I like your hedgehog version even better - so cute!

  2. ...suggest breaking these apart to eat...they come out pretty crisp and pokey...the kids and I were breaking off the pointy bits and eating those first...delicious...

  3. I love that you posted the scary ones! It made me laugh. You are so cool! Thanks for sharing and they turned out super cute in the end