runzaRunza are made from a slightly sweet, rich bread dough and a filling of beef, onion and cabbage. Although the ingredients are simple, the results are delicious. This recipe does require some time since the bread dough has to rise. However, you can certainly make the filling while the dough is rising. Another reason these are great is because they can be refrigerated or frozen and reheat extremely well.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
180mL (3/4 cup) milk
120mL (1/2 cup) water
100g (1/2 cup) shortening
2 eggs

450g (1 lb) ground beef or beef/pork mixture
2 onions, chopped
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg


Mix 1-3/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the shortening, milk, and water, and microwave or heat on the stove until shortening melts. Let cool slightly and add to the flour. Add eggs and mix well. Add remaining flour (2-3/4 cups) and mix until smooth. Let rise 1 hour.

Meanwhile, saute meat, onions, and cabbage until meat is cooked through. Season with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste.

Divide dough into 12 equal balls, and roll into squares of about 6 inches (15cm) on a floured surface. Place about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture in the middle of the dough, and fold one corner over to the opposite corner, making a triangle. Use a fork to seal the edges of the dough very well.

Bake at 180C / 350 F for 20 minutes.


Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

biscuit cinnamon rolls8This recipe for cinnamon rolls uses a different dough from most cinnamon rolls. As a “biscuit”, the dough is not very sweet, and is more firm. However, when contrasted to the sweet filling, the result is a not-overly-sweet treat. Originally from here.

3 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
113g (1/2 cup) butter
50g (1/4 cup) shortening
1 egg
180mL (3/4 cup) buttermilk (in Japan: use 175mL milk + 1 tsp lemon juice and let sit 5 minutes before using)
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
30g (2 tbsp) butter


For biscuit dough: Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined.

For filling: melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir and cook until the butter turns brown. Let cool slightly. In a small bowl, mix sugars and spices.

Roll the biscuit dough into a rectangle 10 by 12 inches (25 by 30 cm). Spread or brush the browned butter onto the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over.

Roll up the biscuit dough tightly, with the seal on the bottom. Slice with a sharp knife into 1″ (2.5 cm) slices. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake at 200C / 400F for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. (If the dough is too soft to slice neatly, chill the dough in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes and try again.)

Flour Tortillas

tortillas2Tortillas are uncommon in Japan. They can be found at import stores or Costco, or bought online, but they can be quite expensive. (2015 update: I am seeing tortillas in large supermarkets more often now, as Mexican food is slowly becoming more well known.) My solution was to learn to make my own. I started with flour tortillas, and found it easier than expected.

Ingredients (makes 8 tortillas)
1-1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (50g) shortening
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60-120mL) hot water


Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives. Add the hot water little by little and stir in.

Knead dough 30-40 times. Let rest 1 hour.

Divide into 8 equal pieces. Let the pieces rest 20 minutes.

Roll out with a rolling pin (or press on a tortilla press) to make 8-inch (20cm) diameter circles. Cook in a dry frying pan over medium heat. It should take just a minute or so on each side to cook through and become brown in spots.

While cooking the remaining tortillas, cover the cooked ones with a towel to keep from drying out.

Baking Powder Biscuits

baking powder biscuitsMy mother has been making these biscuits since I was young. They go very well with soup, and are sturdy enough to dip in broth, but also tender inside. You can also vary them up in different ways including sweet versions (see the bottom of this post).

2 cups (260g) flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup (160mL) milk
1/2 cup (100g) shortening


Preheat the oven to 425F (220C) and grease a cookie sheet.

Put the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the milk all at once and stir just until dough forms a ball. Knead 15 times on a lightly floured board, then pat it into a 1/2 inch (1.5cm) thick pancake. Cut into rounds or squares and place on cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned.

– pat thinner for crustier biscuits (reduce baking time slightly)
– for drop biscuits, increase milk to 1 cup and drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet
– for other savory variations, add thinly grated cheese, garlic, or herbs such as rosemary, basil, or oregano
– for sweet variations, add honey and/or spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves