For the sakura blossoms, soak in water to draw out the saltiness. Then dry well with paper towels.
■ In a kneading bowl add the ☆ ingredients in and mix well. Then add in the yeast and mix again.
Mix the water and oil together with a spatula and once mixed, add it into the middle of the dough in the kneading bowl. Flatten the dough with your fist and then knead the dough rapidly by moving your fist around the bowl.
When the dough becomes elastic and the bowl is now shiny again, (knead for about 5 minutes) form the dough into a ball and let it rest in a warm place for 2~30 minutes.
■ For the first rising, gently punch down the dough and form it into a nice ball. Next, let the dough triple in size and be careful that the dough doesn't dry out.
Once it looks like this, it's done.
■ Transfer the dough to a flour dusted surface, divide the dough into 6 portions (one should be 43 g), and gently form it into balls. Be careful again not to let it dry out and then let them rest for 20 minutes.
※ While the dough is resting, take the anko paste and divide it into sixths. Gently form it into balls. Coat your baking tray gently with oil.
■ Place the dough on top of a flat surface with the seam facing upwards. Gently roll the dough out by pushing down with the palm of your hand.
Place the ball of anko paste in the center and then use both of your palms in a circular motion to roll the dough up.
Pinch the seam and close it tightly.
Place the dough seam down in the muffin tray. Push down with your finger to bring more of the dough into contact with the tray.
■ Have the dough rise a second time being careful not to let it dry out. Find a good time to preheat your oven to 200°C. I think it's a good idea to have your pan heat up as well with the oven.
It should rise to about this amount! It if rises to the top of the tray, that's fine too.
This is what it looks like from the side.
Place the sakura blossoms on top! ♪
■ Place a sheet of parchment paper over the tray...
Place the tray in the oven and then place another tray on top like so.
Bake for 14 minutes at 200°C. The amount of time needed to bake can differ per oven, so keep an eye on them and adjust as you see necessary.
They should come out looking like this. The color isn't very bright, but to get that you would have to bake at a lower temperature.
The inside looks like this. It's a bit thin as dough but it's fluffy. Once they cool, store them in a resealable plastic bag♪
■ An update on the bread rising steps. Do the first rising at 16°C in a torobako (styrofoam box used for fish) for 3 hours and 30 minutes. For the second rising, do it for 10 minutes at 35°C and then let it sit in the residual heat for 20 minutes.
About the 3 1/2 hour rising. This gives it a chance to chill fully. Well... I guess it really is just because I prefer to let the dough rise slowly, but do as you please.