Dorayaki (どらやき) Japanese Red Bean Pancakes
A beloved Japanese confection, Dorayaki (どらやき) are light snacks that will satisfy your sweet tooth! These traditional Japanese sweets are made by enclosing sweet azuki bean paste between two soft and fluffy honey pancakes like a sandwich – a must-try!
Of all my favourite Japanese snacks, Dorayaki (どらやき) or red bean pancake is a treat our whole family loves and enjoys together.
These soft honey pancakes are light and fluffy, and enclose a sweet azuki bean paste (anko 餡子) like a sandwich. The red bean paste adds a chunky yet smooth mouth feel as well as a sweet richness, pairing deliciously with the pancake patties.
The wonderful thing is you can enjoy delicious dorayaki snacks anytime by making your own at home. Like regular pancakes, all you need are a few pantry staples and Japanese ingredients you can easily get at your local Asian supermarket.
Table of contents
Simply the best Dorayaki recipe
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a special one from a cookbook I acquired in a Kyoto book shop years ago.
This easy, everyday dorayaki recipe is written by Ms Mayuko Matsumura, a culinary expert and widely published Japanese cookbook author who has long taught cooking and dietetics in schools.
This is simply the best dorayaki recipe, and if it’s your first dorayaki attempt, I couldn’t recommend enough that you start here.
I’ve made dozens of dorayaki with this recipe – every time, with great success. Now, I can’t wait for you to try it and experience the rich and delicious flavours of dorayaki for yourself. I guarantee you’ll be hooked!
Dorayaki and Doraemon (ドラえもん)
Dorayaki is a type of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) extremely popular with kids and adults alike in Japan. Mention dorayaki and you may have heard of Doraemon (ドラえもん) – he always comes to mind when I snack on dorayaki!
A wildly popular cartoon and manga character that took Japan and the rest of the world by storm, Doraemon is an adorable robot cat who is frequently depicted with his favourite snack, dorayaki.
The reason why Doraemon loves dorayaki so much is because he was given one by his first girlfriend as a gift to cheer him up. The taste of dorayaki reminds Doraemon of his first love, and just like humans, one that he never forgets.
In fact, Doraemon is so addicted to dorayaki that he falls into many predicaments and traps just to get his hands on his favourite snack.
Ingredients to make dorayaki
Japanese red bean pancake is very easy to make and involves a simple pancake batter. The main differences between dorayaki and regular pancakes have to do with appearance and flavour.
Japanese pancakes are deliberately small and round – typically no larger than the average doughnut.
Like regular pancakes, dorayaki is made with common pancake ingredients such as eggs, flour, and sugar. But the addition of honey and mirin (and the absence of any dairy) is what gives dorayaki its earthy, marshmallowy flavour and moistness.
These are the ingredients you need to make dorayaki:
- cake flour. The recommended flour to use is Japanese soft wheat flour (hakuriki-ko). The pancake batter made with soft flour results in light and fluffy pancakes with a tender texture. If you can’t get Japanese soft flour, cake flour or pastry flour will work equally well as its protein level is comparable to Japanese soft wheat flour.
- baking powder. A raising agent (leavening agent) for the batter to give these pancakes a fluffy crumb.
- honey. Adds moisture and flavour, and together with sugar, is what creates the caramel colour in these pancakes when cooked.
- mirin. Also known as sweet sake, mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine that adds a mild sweetness to the flavour of the pancakes. You can easily get mirin at Asian aisles in your local supermarket or at local Asian food stores.
- water. Helps to thin the pancake batter to the ideal consistency. Depending on the type of four used (cake/pastry/all purpose flour), the amount of water can vary because different flours have different absorption properties.
- eggs. I use large eggs, each weighing 60 – 63 grams (2 2-.25 ounces) with shell.
- sugar. Use regular granulated sugar.
- vanilla extract. Traditionally, this is not included as an ingredient in most dorayaki recipes, but I like adding a dash to infuse the pancakes with a warm, marshmallowy flavour. This is optional and can be omitted.
- red bean paste (anko). This is a bean paste made with red beans or azuki beans (also called adzuki beans or aduki beans). Japanese red bean paste is easily available at Japanese and Asian supermarkets. For dorayaki, I personally prefer the thick, coarse variety of anko known as tsubuan (つぶあん) because I like fillings with a bit of bite and texture. You can also use smooth, fine-grained anko known as koshian (こし餡). I usually buy ready-made tsubu an, but you can also make your own tsubuan from scratch.
How to make dorayaki – Japanese red bean pancake
Note: The ingredients and instructions are also written in detail in the recipe card at the end of this post – if you want to skip the step-by-step photos and go straight to the recipe card, scroll down to the bottom or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
How to make dorayaki batter
- Flour mixture: Sift together flour and baking powder into a large bowl, twice. This loosens the flour and distributes the baking powder evenly.
- Honey mixture: In a separate bowl, combine honey, mirin, water, and vanilla extract (if using) and stir until well mixed.
Note: Depending on the flour used (cake/pastry/plain or all purpose), you may need to add a bit more water later after resting the batter.
- Egg mixture: In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs to break up the egg yolks. Add the sugar and continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the egg mixture lightens in colour, about 2 – 3 minutes by hand.
- Add the honey mixture: Stir the honey mixture into the eggs mixture.
- Add the flour mixture: Tip in the flour mixture, and mix or stir until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. The batter should be a bit thick, and not too runny. It should be able to run off the whisk or spoon smoothly.
- Rest: Cover the bowl with a tea cloth or seal with cling wrap. Place the bowl in the fridge to let the batter rest for 30 minutes. After resting, the pancake batter will be noticeably thicker because the flour would have absorbed the liquids. If necessary, thin it out by adding a bit of water 1 teaspoon at a time until it has the ideal consistency of pancake batter.
How to cook the pancakes
Don’t worry if the first couple of patties don’t turn out well – it’s to be expected😛! You’ll eventually get the hang of it and settle into a workflow. It just takes a bit of patience and practice.
- Grease the pan: Heat up a non-stick pan until moderately hot. Lightly grease the pan with a bit of vegetable oil using a silicon or pastry brush. The key is to use oil sparingly. Wipe off excess oil streaks with a paper towel – this is key to getting evenly browned pancakes and preventing patchy spots on the cooked surface of the pancakes.
- Pour the batter: At a height of 8″ (20 cm) above the pan, pour the batter until you form a pancake that is 3″ (7 – 8 cm) in diameter.
- Cover. Cover with a heatproof lid (preferably see-through like glass) until bubbles start to appear on the surface of the pancake, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
- Flip. Once a ring of bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, get ready to turn over the pancake. Gently but quickly flip the pancake. Give yourself room – make sure the pancake is well off the surface of the frying pan by an inch or two, or else the edges of the pancake may fold into itself.
- Brown the bottom. Cook for 20 – 25 seconds, or until the bottom is lightly browned. The edges of the pancake will be a bit sticky, this is because of the sugar content – this is OKAY!
- Pair up the pancakes. Keep the cooked pancakes in pairs, with the lighter sides together. Put on a plate or in a container and cover with a damp cloth until you finish cooking the remaining batter.
How to assemble the Dorayaki
Assemble the dorayaki, working with one pair of pancakes at a time. With a metal spoon or cookie scoop, scoop out a generous dollop of sweet azuki bean paste on to the centre of one pancake.
Spread the azuki bean paste with the back of the spoon. Mound more bean paste in the centre and spread out towards the edges, leaving a bit of the edges clean. Optional: You can also top the bean paste with some fresh cream whipped with a bit of sugar.
Enclose the paste with another pancake like a pancake sandwich and press the edges together to seal (those sticky edges are going to be useful here!).
I’ve made these red bean pancakes countless times and learnt from a blunder or two along the way. If you are making your first dorayaki, here are a few essential preparation and cooking tips you need to know.
How to make perfect dorayaki
- Do not heat up the pan too hot. Take your time to heat up the pan on a low to medium heat. Starting at too high a heat will cause the pan to overheat and overcook (even burn) the first 1 or 2 pancakes.
- Grease the pan sparingly. Do not grease the pan too much, just barely is key. Use a silicon or pastry brush to spread the oil. You don’t need to grease the pan every time, only as and when needed.
- Always wipe off excess oil. Wipe off any remaining oil streaks with a paper towel – this is key to evenly browning the pancakes and preventing patchy oil spots on the cooked surface of the pancakes.
- Use a ladle or ice cream scoop. To make pancakes of a consistent size, use a ladle or ice cream scoop that holds the same volume of batter each time.
- Cook one pancake at a time. Do not crowd the pan. You’ll need enough room to flip your pancakes so it won’t drop onto another patty or make a mess.
- Do not overcook the pancake. The time it takes for bubbles to appear on the surface of the pancake depends on the frying pan as well as the cooking heat. The stated times are guidelines. Observe the surface of the pancake and use your judgement.
- Know when to flip. Turn the pancake over once a ring of bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, and the middle looks moist but set. When picked up with a spatula, the patty should easily come off the surface of the pan.
- Choose the right non-stick frying pan. In spite of your best efforts, if the pancakes don’t cook well, swap out the pan for another. I experimented cooking the batter on 3 different non-stick pans until I finally got the best outcome – pans can and do make the difference!
- Mix and match. Do not be overly concerned if the pancakes are not consistent in size. Pair each pancake with its closest match – by colour and size. You won’t notice the size differences too much once they’ve been sandwiched together.
- Keep the moisture in. To prevent dorayaki from drying, keep the patties covered with a damp cloth while you finish up cooking the remaining batter. Once assembled, wrap each dorayaki securely with plastic wrap and keep in an airtight container.
How to keep and store Dorayaki
Homemade dorayaki is best enjoyed immediately when they are at their freshest and moistest. Because these pancakes can dry out quickly, it’s important to wrap them once you’ve enclosed the filling.
Wrap each dorayaki securely with cling wrap and keep in an airtight container. Dorayaki keeps well at room temperature for up to 2 days. Beyond this period, store them (still wrapped and sealed) in the chiller for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Frequently asked questions
You can use plain flour (regular all purpose flour) in place of Japanese soft wheat flour or cake flour, but be aware that the type of flour affects the texture of the pancakes. Using plain flour will turn out decent pancakes as well, with a light chewy texture.
Pancakes for dorayaki are closer in texture to a sponge cake – it should be soft and fluffy. The next best alternative to cake flour is pastry flour.
Yes, you can fill the dorayaki with other types of sweet filling. Popular fillings in Japan include custard cream, matcha pastry cream or matcha cream with sweet azuki bean paste, a mixture of whipped cream and sweet azuki bean paste to make Nama Dorayaki ( 生どら焼き), as well as chestnut paste, and even chocolate cream.
Baking powder is needed to make the pancakes light and fluffy, so you’ll want to check that your baking powder is still active. Another reason why pancakes turn out dense is because the consistency of the pancake is too thick.
This also points to an issue with the consistency of the pancake batter. While you don’t want the consistency to be too thick, a thin or runny pancake batter can also cause the pancake to spread out thin on the cooking surface, causing it to turn out flat.
Like a lot of wagashi, dorayaki are sweet treats but do not taste overly sugary. In fact, dorayaki isn’t as sweet as Western style pancakes which are usually accompanied by sweet toppings like maple syrup.
I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar because sugar (including the sugar present in honey) makes the pancakes moist. When eaten separately, you may find the pancake mildly sweet, and the red bean paste sweet with an earthly flavour. But put together, the flavour of dorayaki is harmonious, wholesome and pleasant tasting.
I know this is a long post but I wanted to cover all the bases so you’re set up for success to make the best Dorayaki! I’d love to hear how you get on with this recipe, so if you try this, please leave a review or comment and share your story.
You may also like:
- Matcha Red Bean Cake with Mascarpone and Matcha Whipped Cream
- Red Bean Milk Loaf (Tangzhong Method)
- Matcha Chiffon Cake (抹茶シフォンケーキ)
- Moist and Fluffy Strawberry Shortcake (イチゴのショートケーキ)
- 100 g cake flour Note 1
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsps water
- 2 large eggs each weighing 60 – 63 grams (2 – 2.25 ounces) with its shell
- 80 g sugar
- 300 g red bean paste (anko) for dorayaki, I prefer tsubuan, a thick, chunky red bean paste but you can use koshian, a smooth, fine-grained red bean paste.
- cooking oil as needed
Make the pancake batter
- Combine the flour and baking powder, and sift twice into a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine honey, mirin, water, and vanilla extract (if using) and stir until well mixed.Note: Depending on the flour used (cake/pastry/plain or all purpose), you may need to add a bit more water after resting the batter.
- In a separate mixing bowl, break the eggs and lightly beat with a whisk for 10 – 15 seconds. Add the sugar to the eggs and continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the egg mixture lightens in colour, about 2 – 3 minutes by hand.
- Add the honey mixture and the flour mixture all at once. Stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. The batter should be a bit thick, and not too runny. It should be able to run off the whisk or spoon smoothly.
- Cover the bowl with a tea cloth or seal with cling wrap. Place it in the fridge to rest the batter for 30 minutes.Note: After resting, the pancake batter will be noticeably thicker because the flour would have absorbed the liquids. If needed, add a bit more water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin the batter to the ideal consistency.
Cook the pancakes
- Heat a frying pan or pancake pan over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes until moderately hot, about 160℃ (320℉). Brush the surface of the pan very sparingly with a bit of oil. Wipe off any residue with a paper towel using bamboo chopsticks or heat-resistant tongs.Note: Take your time to heat up the pan – do not start on too high heat as you may end up overcooking or burning the first 1 or 2 pancakes. Also, it's really important to not grease the pan too much, just barely will do. Immediately wiping the oil streaks off the surface is key to evenly browning the pancakes and avoiding patchy spots.
- Pour the batter from 8" (20 cm) above the pan, forming a pancake 3" (7 – 8 cm) in diameter. Cover with a heatproof lid and cook over low heat.
- Once the pancake surface bubbles (45 seconds – 1 minute), flip quickly with a spatula. Fry for another 25 – 30 seconds, or until the bottom is lightly browned. The edges will be sticky – this is OKAY!Note: The time it takes for bubbles to appear depends on the the frying pan used as well as the cooking heat. It's best to observe the surface of the pancake and use your judgement. Do not overcook the pancake – flip once a ring of bubbles appear around the edges and the middle looks moist but set, and is no longer runny when picked up with a spatula. Also, do not worry if the first few pancakes don't turn out well – you'll eventually get the hang of it and settle into a workflow. It just takes a bit of practice!
- Dish out the pancake onto a plate or sheet pan and cover it with a damp cloth to keep it from drying. Once you have cooked 2 pancakes to make a pair, place the lighter sides (the bottoms) of 2 pancakes together. Again, keep them covered with a damp cloth on the plate or sheet pan. Repeat the process until all the remaining batter is used up.Tip: Grease the surface of the frying pan sparingly, wiping off the excess, as and when needed to prevent the pancake from sticking to the pan.Do not be overly concerned if the pancakes are not consistent in size. Once you've cooked all the pancakes, you can pair each pancake with its closest match, in terms of colour and size.
Assemble the Dorayaki
- Working in pairs, scoop some red bean paste onto the centre of the first pancake using a metal spoon or cookie scoop.
- Spread the paste with the back of the metal spoon, leaving the edges clean. Cover with the second pancake. Press the edges together to seal. Immediately keep each filled pancake in the airtight container to prevent drying.
Store the pancakes
- Wrap the Dorayaki in plastic wrap to seal it. Keep them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Note: Dorayaki will keep well at room temperature for up to 2 days. Beyond this period, store them (wrapped and sealed) in the chiller for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to a month.