Here is a Japanese sweet ‘Two Petals’. It is a ‘Wagashi’ in the shape of two petals of Sakura Cherry blossom half covering each other. Sakura season seems to be coming to the end in Japan but blossom of some Cherry trees is still hanging on luckily in the UK, maybe because the weather is quite chilly these days.
The greatest thing about Sakura blossom is its colour. Particularly in a mild but bright spring sunlight it gives such a warmth into people’s mind. I wanted to create the gentle gradation on the petal from very light pink to almost white colour.
I am so pleased that although the season started a little earlier this year Sakura Cherry blossom is still flowering well. I can see one Cherry tree in my garden in full bloom right at the moment. Some petals started falling down with a breeze but it is creating a beautiful ‘Fuzei’ (pleasantly aesthetic) moment to your mind too. On top of the privilege of enjoying the view of next door’s Cherry blossom, this tree also produces tasty cherry fruit. I hope it will be a great summer for cherries.
So we are in Cherry blossom time. As a Japanese sweet creator I have made several Sakura sweets this spring and this one is the first one I created.
I made this design for a Tea specialty shop in London.
Now officially it is spring in the UK. Which means Sakura season has started. Sakura is a Japanese word for Cherry tree and also Cherry Blossom. People in Japan love Cherry blossoms and go crazy when this season starts or even before when the season comes nearer. I mentioned about our tradition in Sakura season three years ago on this blog so if you are interested about the custom please read my old post.
As well as our traditional Cherry Blossom viewing ‘Hanami’ we like to eat all sorts of food which is in flavour or shape of Sakura blossom. There are many ways to produce Sakura related sweets and I will try making several different types in this season.
Sakura sweet in Japanese Crêpe style (with recipe)
This is a baked type Sakura sweet in crêpe style.
For us Japanese Spring time is all about ‘Sakura’ Cherry Blossom. You might think all the Cherry blossoms are the same, however, there are many different types. The species with single petal flower start blossoming first and then other types with multi petals follow to open flowers. So that, although the best viewing time is quite short for each tree, we can enjoy viewing Sakura Cherry blossom for quite a long time betwee mid – late March and throughout April in Japan.
These days it is getting quite well known that Japanese have a picnic party eating and drinking under a full blooming Cherry tree. It is called ‘O’Hanami’. It literally means ‘the viewing of Sakura blossoms’ and it tells how much we love seeing Sakura. I tried to think a perfect Japanese sweets for this O’Hanami occasion which is something delicious in the Cherry blossom theme and also easy to pick and eat outdoors.
The sweet I created for the O’Hamani occasion is ‘Ukishima’. It looks quite like a western cake but is actually a very Japanese sweet with a soft, light texture. When I tasted this sweet the first time, I fell in love with it! The best thing about it is it’s so moist.
I made Yomogi Mochi for April. I don’t know why I feel like having Yomogi Mochi especially in spring but I made Yomogi Mochi and posted about it last year too. Maybe because ‘Yomogi’ is wild leaves you can find in a field and we are in the season now that lots of plants are just coming out after being under a cold weather. My Yomogi Mochi this year looks quite similar to the last years. So what is the difference?
Yomogi Mochi, 2018
The outer layer is a ‘Mochi’ type of Japanese sweet with Yomogi leaves mixed in. It has a slightly bitter leafy taste but with sweetness and a bouncy and gooey Texture. As the centre I used ‘Tsubu-An’ Sweet Azuki Beans paste without skin removed during the process. Yomogi and Tsubu-An are just a great combination and I could not think of using any other bean paste for Yomogi flavour.
We are in April. We had a cold winter with quite a lot of snow in the UK but even we must be finally in Spring? I keep receiving posts and photos that say ‘Sakura’ Cherry blossoms came to Japan far too early this spring. Single-petaled Cherry species always blossom earlier than multi-petaled ones and it normally starts opening at the end of March and becomes full bloom at the beginning of April. However, this year single-petaled blossom almost ended even before April came. April is the beginning of the academic year in Japan so the entry ceremonies to schools and companies are held at the beginning of April. It is normally a great sight that people posing with full Sakura blossom as the background for the photo shoot on their special day, but maybe it did not happen this year.
Because the weather was so miserable for the last week or two in London I did not go for a walk very often. I went to the nearby park to see the Sakura blossoming situation two days ago and noticed that half of the flower buds were already open. It is a warm and sunny day yesterday so most of the buds would be open by now.
Since I started making Japanese sweets I always make some sweet in the theme of Sakura Cherry Blossom in spring. I made a sweet quite literally in a Sakura flower shape last year so this year I wanted make something Sakura as an image.
A few days ago I received a private order for my Japanese sweets. The client wanted me to deliver 15 Wagashi sweets to her. Apart from the specific request that she would like to have 4 Daffodils and the rest should be ‘Mochi’ type sweets I was given the honour to select the suitable sweets that would be favoured by western people. So the sweets I picked and packed were like this.
Spring Gift Set
Comparing to the snowy weather three weeks ago it is so much more like spring now. It is not just because the temperature is higher but because the sunlight is brighter and the air is lighter. Although the forecast says there is a possibility that this weekend might become cold again, the season always moves forward by going back and forth a little. It means we are definitely getting closer to spring!
It means we are in Early Spring now. I quite often design sweets depending on which season we are in. I pick some significant signs of the season such as colour, flower or mood of the season. So what is early spring like for me? It is the season some leaves start to come out (Green) on a tree and field, but in some area it is still covered with snow (white). It is a little too early to see a view of full Sakura cherry blossom in the most places, however, but in some warmer area some trees probably starts blossoming (Pink). The smell of early spring is a grassy green smell. So what I have to do after running my imagination is put all these images together.
Matcha Swirl Mochi
I needed to assemble all the elements of green, white and pink together. I was imagining a mountain in early spring. For autumn season I made Autumn Mountain Mochi and reached up to this swirling sweet of early spring version of the mountain.
In my garden, Lilac flowers have gone and the marvellous scent of Mock Orange (Philadelphus) flowers is filling up the atmosphere instead now. I know Sakura, Cherry blossom, season is over and I have to admit that I made this sweet a few weeks ago but did not have a chance to post here.
It is a ‘Mochi’ type sweet with a hint or two of Sakura Cherry Blossom essence.
So what is the Sakura essence that I added to this sweet?
The Cherry tree for fruit in my garden is in full bloom too
We are in the middle of the full Cherry Blossom season in London. There is a traditional custom called ‘Hanami’ (‘Hana’ means flower/ blossom and ‘Mi ((Miru))’ means to look/ watch) that people picnic under a cherry tree and enjoy eating & drinking whilst viewing the beauty of Sakura.
We also have a proverb ‘Hana yori Dango’ which means ‘Food comes before Flower (Beauty)’. This describes that although viewing Sakura blossom is enjoyable, it cannot beat the delight of eating delicious food.
There is a sweet during this Sakura season called ‘Hanami-Dango’. It is composed of three balls of a ‘Mochi‘ type sweet in tricolour of Green, White and Pink stuck together with a skewer. But why these colours and why in this order? There seems several theories behind this colour scheme but the one I like is like this. ‘White’ is a symbol of ‘Snow=Winter’, ‘Green’ is the ‘New Leaves’ just about coming out from under the snow and ‘Pink’ is the colour of ‘Sakura=Spring’. So all these colours together explain the season which people have longed for the arrival during the long cold winter.
I made Hanami-Dango with Tofu this year. Why Tofu? You can use water instead but by adding Tofu the Mochi Dango becomes softer and bouncier texture and the softness lasts longer. You can make this in almost the same way as the ‘Shiratama Dango’ I introduced before.