During the first lockdown in the UK, I made Babka twice. One was with Cinnamon and the other one was with Chocolate. When I was eating it, I thought that babka must go well with some Japanese ingredients. I’ve been thinking to try making my Japanese Babka for a while but didn’t have a chance … until recently.
Just before the UK went into the second lockdown, I started participating a virtual Bake-Off competition that is hosted by my local deli shop. The first task was Babka so it was the great opportunity for me to try creating my imaginary Japanese Babka.
Matcha Babka with Sweet Azuki Bean Paste & White Chocolate
I added Matcha green tea powder to the brioche dough to give the pastry beautiful green colour and also, sweet but a little pungent green tea flavour. For the filling I spread ‘Tsubuan’ sweet Azuki (red) bean paste all over the stretched dough and then scattered some white chocolate pieces on top. What I aimed to create was a great contrast in colour as well as flavour.
How was the weather where you are yesterday? It was the day the full-moon should be seen last night that people in Japan celebrate and enjoy viewing the beauty of it. By hoping to see the beautiful full moon we traditionally eat round (moon-shaped) Mochi. However, the shape of the Mochi varies depending on the area.
I was hoping to see the beautiful full moon and made two types of Tsukimi Dango. ‘Tsuki’ means moon and ‘Mi (Miru)’ means to view in Japanese.
Yesterday, the 22nd of September, was the Autumnal Equinox Day this year. One week period around that day is called ‘Higan’ in Japan and people cleanse ourselves spiritually by doing right things and cleaning ancestors’ graves.
On the culinary side of this tradition during the week we have sweets called ‘Ohagi’. It is a mochi type sweet with half pounded sweet rice with ‘Azuki’ sweet red bean paste. Some of them are flavoured and decorated with ‘Kinako’ toasted soyabean powder, green seaweed or black sesame seeds.
I love Ohagi and can eat 2-3 pieces of them easily all one go! It is normally quite big and filling, and for the people who’d like to try all the flavours for a teatime it might be a little hard. So I made a version of all three types of sweets on one skewer! In this way everyone can taste all the flavours. 🍡
A little Indian summer has come to London. The temperature has risen to around 28-9℃ for two to three days. I know it’s not any significant temperature for people who live in very hot weather. However, in the UK this summer was terrible. It suddenly became unbearably hot about 34 ℃+ in June that stopped me from doing anything outdoor or even indoor. Then after there were rainy-cold-miserable days that to last forever… But now in mid-September, finally very nice summer days are back to London.
Whenever we are in summer, there is Watermelon. This is the watermelon ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweet I made this summer.
It’s made with lots of Watermelon juice which is gathered with agar powder. It’s a little similar to jelly but agar is made from seaweed and is vegetable based.
Do you know Mochi? Have you eaten any before? Mochi is one of the recent phenomena in the Japanese food industry that became very popular in the world all of a sudden as a surprise. It’s a soft gooey rice cake that was made by pounding glutinous rice. It can be either sweet or savoury and also hot or cold.
The best know Mochi in the western countries is the one with ice cream inside and the other type is with a fresh Strawberry and sweet bean paste wrapped up inside the Mochi sheet. This Strawberry ‘Daifuku’ Mochi is one of my favourites, however, it is not just strawberry that the Mochi goes so well with. You can have all sorts of juicy fresh fruit in a Mochi.
Here is my creation of Raspberry Mochi to show you that. I selected juicy but firm raspberries and filled them with smooth raspberry sauce. I wrapped them up carefully with a sheet of sweet and soft Mochi.
This Raspberry Mochi is one of my regular products when I have a market stall that I know people love. I was planning to have a stall in a big Japanese culture market in June and it was sadly cancelled unfortunately of course because of the pandemic.
However, a great news for the people who live in London is that you can get two of my Wagashi Japanese sweets at the moment. This Raspberry Mochi is one of them and I received great feedback already from the customers. They are served at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London W8 6ND). You are not allowed to walk into the shop yet but you can get a takeaway.
The Havan is located right next to Holland Park so how about getting some sweets and their gorgeous Matcha tea as a takeaway and have a lovely teatime in the park. 😋💕
Previously I introduced my Lacecap Hydrangea sweet and this one in another form of my Hydrangea sweet this year. It’s a rather traditional design for this flower as a Japanese sweet, however, I added something unconventional to it!
During the Elderflower season in May I made two things to preserve the loveliness of the flowers. One of them is the famous Elderflower Cordial and the other one is Elderflower Champagne. Both are made in a similar way by keeping fresh flowers in a sugary water with lemon and lime to extract the flavour and the scent of flowers into the liquid. You can make a refreshing summer drink by adding water to a little amount of the cordial.
However, I wanted to have it not just as a drink, I wanted to taste it as a Japanese sweet. I wonder what type of sweet is the most suitable for using Elderflower flavour and then thought it should be definitely soft Mochi.
As the Mochi sweet with Elderflower flavour, the look has to be very simple and the colour scheme has to be white.
Some parts of the UK and Europe have been hit by thunder storms over the weekend. Although London was not affected much, it rains on and off. I’ve been experiencing difficulty sleeping through several stuffy nights so I am very pleased its’ cooled off. The showers were also very welcome in my garden because the earth was very dry.
There is one plant that looks great in the rain. It’s Hydrangea. The flower is normally pink or blue and it’s said that the acidic soil makes the flower blue and the more alkaline soil makes it pink. It’s now in the flowering season of the water loving Hydrangea and the rain enhances its beauty. I think the pompom-like common Hydrangea looks pretty, however, the one I like is the Lacecap Hydrangea which has a little more delicate touch.
I have made several Hydrangea sweets before and this time I created the Lacecap Hydrangea.
The 16th of June is ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweet Day. Although the ceremony is an old tradition that started in 848, it was forgotten once for a long time and reintroduced to the modern Japanese people in 1979. As a part of the ceremony we place sixteen sweets as an offering to the God in order to pray for good health.
Instead of offering sixteen sweets I have been introducing sixteen sweets from all my creation of the previous year recently (2018, 2017 and 2016 with the more detail of the Wagashi Day).
My Sixteen Wagashi in 2019
So I introduce sixteen Wagashi from all the Japanese sweets I created in the year 2019 here.