BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Amazing Amazake

55 Comments

“Ama-What?” is somewhere along the lines of the typical response I get when I mention this little known sweetener. Ah-Mah-Zah-Kay; it’s been around for centuries, so it’s hardly the new kid on the block, and yet so few westerners have even heard of this lovely elixir. Native to Japan, and actually the first stage of making sake (it can also be translated as “sweet sake”), it’s thick, creamy, and sweet as can be, and it’s made solely of rice. You heard right- This is just plain old brown rice!

Okay, so there’s more to it than mashing up a batch of cooked rice*, but not too much. Hard to find in the mainstream market place but easy as can be to make at home, the only stumbling block in the whole operation is locating a source of koji, brown rice inoculated with friendly bacteria that will help to ferment your cooked rice into something a bit sweeter. Found in the refrigerated section, usually not too far from the miso (another byproduct of koji, by the way) in your local Asian market, or like all other things, various online specialty stores.

Your koji is likely to come with a set of instructions as well, and you’re more than welcome to follow along with those, but I personally went with the suggestions outlined here, which actually come from the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. By the way, if you’re the least bit into any of this crazy fermentation stuff, I highly recommend you check out this book.

Lacking an incubator or appropriately sized dehydrator to stay at a low, steady heat for a number of hours, I simply set my oven to the “proof” setting, stuck a thermometer in there to monitor it, and let it go. Your oven may run hotter or cooler, so be sure to check where the heat is before sacrificing your amazake to an adverse environment. Think of it as a delicate little rice baby, and handle with care! Checking frequently is key, as there’s no set time that it will be “done;” Just dip a finger in periodically and taste it. When it tastes sweet, you’re good to go, and that’s all there is to it.

You can leave it chunky if you’d like, but I prefer to move mine into the blender briefly to get a lusciously smooth puree. The result is so thick, you can actually eat it like pudding! Traditionally served as a hot drink, you can thin it out with water (maybe 3/4 cup water to 1/4 cup amazake) and heat it up with some grated ginger for a historically correct experience. However, I happen to think that it can work as a fantastic sweetener in many baked goods.

Unlike white sugar and most sweeteners used in baking, amazake will not give you the same degree of browning, and it will never produce that tooth-aching, candy-like sweetness that you sometimes get from say, a cupcake with mile-high frosting. And that’s the good news, if you ask me! Perfectly suited for more subtle, delicate treats with nuanced flavors, I found it to be the perfect addition to breakfast items especially, such as pancakes, scones, and of course, muffins.

Despite my initial trepidation about serving these borderline “hippie” carrot spice muffins to an omnivorous crowd, they were quite possibly the hit of the party, a half dozen snatched up in a minute flat. If the threat of a less sweet baked good still strikes fear in your heart though, never fear; I have just the thing to fix that.

A generous smear of amazake and agave chocolate icing should do the trick!

*Don’t let the whole brown rice concept hold you back, either. I also made a batch of amazake with millet, and another with quinoa, to great success! Use the same proportion of koji, but go wild and try any cooked grain you can think of!

Amazake Carrot Muffins

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Chocolate-Covered Crystalized Ginger, Chopped
2 Cups Shredded Carrots
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Homemade Amazake**

Amazake Chocolate Icing (Optional):

1/2 Cup Homemade Amazake
3 Tablespoons Agave
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

**Being so much thicker than commercial amazake, which is intended to be used as a beverage, you certainly can substitute the latter in these muffins- Just remove the water and use a total of 1 1/2 cups amazake instead.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and either lightly grease or line 12 muffin tins with papers. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices until all the dry goods are thoroughly combined. Add in the chocolate-covered ginger and carrot shreds, tossing to coat, to prevent either from just falling to the bottom of your muffins.

Separately, whisk together the oil, water, and amazake, and then pour the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Switch over to a wide spatula, and stir just enough to bring the batter together, with minimal lumps. It will be very thick.

Evenly distribute the batter between your prepared muffin tins, mounting it up in the center (I find that an ice cream scoop helps keep things neat and even, but you can always just use a large spoon.) Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and dry.

If you’d like to make icing to go along with your muffins for a more dessert-like treat, simply stir together all of the icing ingredients until smooth. Apply as desired.

Makes 12 Muffins

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

55 thoughts on “Amazing Amazake

  1. Hannah, you have piqued my interest! I’m not sure I’d like this as a beverage (although I’ll give it a go) but I’m really intrigued about using it as a sweetener in recipes. As soon as I get home from my trip I’m trying this. As usual, your photos are amazing.

  2. THE BEST IS YOU HANNAH ♥

  3. The best, is you Hannah ♥

  4. I want to try to make some. We make rice milk/porridge with our soy pro soymilk brewer, but the children won’t touch it.

  5. Wow! This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’ve been wondering about Amazake as it’s been popping up a lot on blogs lately. Thanks for the tutorial and excellent explanation!

  7. I’m always on the lookout for new alternative sweeteners, and I must try this! Thanks for the great info and recipes!

  8. NEAT! I think I’ve seen amasake sold as a drink in health food stores and have always been curious to know how it tastes. I had no idea it could be used a sweetener!

    Those muffins looks gooooood. Carrots, ginger, and chocolate make a yummy combination, I’d imagine!

  9. Just reading about amazake has me salivating! This takes the phrase “rice pudding” to a whole new level.

    And you should never worry about cooking for omnis! All of your dishes look fantastic to me!

  10. Amazake Carrot Muffins looks so yummy and with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger even more yummmier. Thanks for the recipe.

  11. thanks for sharing – I’ve never heard of this before. Would it be an appropriate substitute for sweetened condensed milk? I use to make a key lime pie with sweetened condensed milk & I’d love to be able to make a vegan version of it!

  12. I’ve never heard of this stuff before! It doesn’t sound that complicated to make, and those muffins look soooo good…

  13. I’ve been drinking almond amazake for years, it’s a wonderful treat. I’m just fortunate to live in a part of the country where it’s made commercially, but I never knew you could use it as a sweetener. Thanks for the excellent post!

  14. never ever heard of this, and it sounds so cool!!! What a very creative way to sweeten muffins :)

  15. You’re always so adventurous in the kitchen Hannah. When I read your post title I thought I knew what you were talking about, but then I realized this was 100% new to me. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Fascinating! And that’s another reason why I love your blog – I’m always learning something new :)

  17. What a great Post! Sandor is a good friend of my partner John and I love that you give him a shout out! Wild Fermentation is a great book and of course you of all people would be apprised of this fact! Keep up the great work Hannah!

  18. never seen chocolate covered crystalized ginger before!!! These muffins are fab!

  19. This is one of those cases where I think you’re awesome, and I want to be you, but I’m pretty sure I won’t make my own amakase ever… or at least not for a long while yet. I’m still to buy agave :P

    Sigh. Oh, inferiority complex… ;)

  20. I never heard of it, but will for sure look for it it looks delicious and smooth. I just don’t know if my crapy electric oven will cooperate with me. :-)

  21. When I first saw this I read it as AmazeCAKE! But Amazake looks even more amazing! I’ve never heard of this but now I can’t wait to try it. I love how you show us so many variations and different ways it can be used. It looks luscious and lovely!

  22. Those muffins look so good! Thanks for sharing!

  23. OMG! this makes me speechless, just love the use of new ingredients on your baking! lovely, you are awesome for having to share it with all of us! have you try making rice milk? I had them in a shop here, fresh ones. lovely and a bit thick in texture, maybe we can bake with thme too! ;)

  24. This is awesome! I’ve been reading about amazake in macrobiotic books, and here, you’ve actually made it!! Really impressive. Thanks for developing an approachable recipe to use this ingredient.

  25. Your blog makes me so hungry.

  26. You are right, ama- what? I think I would leave mine nice and pudding like. It looks delectable

  27. I LOVE that you’re posting about amasake. I think it’s great in puddings or just warmed up as a beverage w a lil ginger juice. I’m lucky tho, they have it at my wholefoods here in Austin. I bet if you request it, they’ll stock it for you!

    Teddy

  28. I’ve never heard of it! but ur muffin looks absolutely gorgeous!

  29. Ooh, those muffins look so delicious! And the post was so informative! Jill brought up a very good question….will it work as a sweetened condensed milk substitute? I think I just found my next project…if it works, I’ve got a fudge recipe that’ll spin heads!!

  30. How intruiging! Hannah, I must say (and I’m really not trying to brag or anything, I just read a LOT) that it’s a rare thing for me to hear of a new ingredient in the baking world, but you’ve just introduced me to one! I’m fascinated!

  31. what a great and delish post..truly amazing

    sweetlilfe

  32. These sound delicious! Carrot cake is my favorite, although I think I’d have to go with the classic cream cheese icing.

  33. I’ve never heard of amazake before but now I’m so intrigued. I even have a yogurt maker which I’m guessing would be perfect for this! The next time I’m at the Asian market I’ll definitely be on the lookout for koji.

  34. Amazake sounds familiar but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. Awesome idea to use it in baking! You always come up with such inventive ways to use ingredients. :-)

  35. I’ve never heard of it. How interesting and just one ingredient. Doesn’t get much better. Love how you used it.

  36. i feel so foodie-educated! i’m definitely going to look for koji the next time i’m as my asian market!

  37. Hannah, what an interesting stuff…never heard it until now…and I am always browsing at the local Japanese grocery store…will keep my eyes open for it…now…I love the idea of making carrot cake with Amazake, really sounds and looks amazing ;-)

  38. That’s so crazy and experimental! I am afraid of fermenting things at home… I’ve had sticky explosions in my fridge. The carrot muffins look so healthy and filling, though!

  39. Very unique approach for making muffin. Fascinating and interesting.

  40. Thanks so much for this post! I have never heard of Amazake and it sounds amazing. We like to use alternatives to sugars for our sweets, so I will definitely have to give this a go. I will be sure to let you know when I do!

  41. Wow, amazake DOES sound amazing!

  42. I haven’t had amazake in a couple of years. I didn’t realize you could make it with pretty much anything.
    What a great recipe.

  43. I find this so interesting. I need to pass on this recipe to my friend with many a food allergy.

  44. I’ve seen amazake in a couple of recipes before but have never tried it. I love the shot of it thick and creamy in the bowl yum!

  45. Wonderful recipe! I imagine that it tastes fabulous considering amazake is lovely to eat on its own yum.

  46. MMMMMMMMMMMM,…your muffins look sensational!!

    That topping is very different too!! Special as well!

    Yummmmm,…

  47. thanks for telling us about Amazake, Hannah. I have read about it before, but have not tried it yet. Love your recipe!

  48. So let me get this straight. Instead of giving my yogurt maker to Goodwill I can get some brown rice, make this stuff and have a dairy free soy free pre-sweetened yogurt replacement? Oh my. I can’t even begin to enumerate all the muffin, cupcake, cake recipes I’ve been avoiding for the lack of a proper yogurt replacement. Not to mention it’s probably make a fine breakfast on it’s own. Seriously, I’m getting the legal papers drawn up to adopt you. You rock!

  49. Just bought Wild Fermentation and I’m loving it! Currently brewing up a batch of ancient Egyptian beer and some apricot and cider vinegar shrub for a homebrew potluck this weekend.

    As always your photos are delicious to look at!

    Definitely need to get my hands on some koji.

  50. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog? My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and my users would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!

  51. Just stumbled on your blog and I really love it. Your photo styling is amazing. I wanted to find amazake recipes and here it is. Thanks. emi

  52. Pingback: Amazake Scones are Naturally Sweet « Lettuce Cook

  53. Pingback: A is for… | Coconut and Berries

  54. Pingback: Strawberry-Almond Amazake Muffins - Coconut and Berries

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