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What Is Red Bean Cake?

By Sonal Panse
Updated May 17, 2024
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Red bean cake is an Asian cake that contains a red bean paste filling made from azuki beans; the red bean paste filling is also used to make red bean soup and other legume dishes. These cakes may be included in everyday meals, or, as in the case of some mooncake varieties, they may be prepared only on certain festive occasions. Different variations of these cakes are available in many Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, Japanese and Chinese dessert food shops.

The word azuki is Japanese; the beans are known as hongdou and chidou in China, pat in Korea and dau do in Vietnam. Azuki bean and other legume dishes are often healthy, as beans are rich in nutrients and fiber, and help with keeping the colon clean. The azuki beans are also low on fat and do not have any cholesterol.

The filling for the red bean cake is made by boiling and mashing the azuki beans. The beans can be boiled with sugar or honey, or the sugar or honey can be added after the beans have been boiled. The mashed bean paste may contain bits of the beans, or these bits can be removed by straining the paste through a sieve. The red bean paste can have a smooth or thick consistency; to get a very thick consistency, the paste is put in a cheesecloth and all the moisture in the paste is squeezed out.

The thicker red bean paste is the version that is generally used as a filling for the red bean cake; a little water or gelatin may be added to dilute the paste if required. It can also be used as a red bean cake filling, and it can also be used to make red bean soup. In some cases, the red bean paste may be frozen before it is used as a filling. Other ingredients to make the red bean cake include baking soda, coconut powder, custard powder, eggs, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, butter and milk.

The outer crust of the red bean cake can be made using rice flour, wheat flour, or a mixed flour. The crust may be crisp, flaky or steamed, and the top of the crust is often stamped with a design. It is usual to serve the cakes in squares, or in half moon shapes.

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Discussion Comments

By ysmina — On Jun 04, 2014

Red bean cake does not have to be a Chinese, Japanese or Korean dessert. Red bean paste can be incorporated into many different recipes. For example, one can make red bean brownies, red bean pancakes with red bean paste as an ingredient. Or sweet red bean paste can be a topping for a variety of cakes, and even cheesecake. The possibilities are endless.

The great part about red bean paste is that the flavor goes well with many other flavors. And it's healthy too because it contains fiber and protein.

By SteamLouis — On Jun 04, 2014

@discographer-- I think mochi is the most popular red bean cake. It's a cake with a glutinous rice outer layer and red bean paste filling. There are many different varieties out there. Additional fillings can be used such as fruit. For example, strawberry red bean cake is a whole strawberry wrapped in red bean paste which is then wrapped in glutinous rice.

It's fairly easy to make mochi. I think preparing the glutinous rice dough can be hard the first time but practice makes perfect.

By discographer — On Jun 03, 2014

There are many different types of red bean desserts out there and different types of red bean cakes. What is the most popular red bean cake? And which is easiest to make?

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