Tomorrow, the 7th of July, is a day called ‘Tanabata’ Day in Japan. It is not a national holiday but we have events and festivals on that day all over Japan. It is based on an old story that a young couple (stars) who fell in love with each other far too much and neglected their work made the God got very angry. The God decided to make them live separately on each side of the river (the Milky Way), however, seeing that how sad they became, he felt sorry for them and gave them permission to cross over the Milky Way once a year on the night of the 7th of July if the weather is good and the sky is clear. I posted this story in more detail two years ago so if you are interested to know please visit the post.
This is the story that happens in the sky above us, so what can we do down on the earth? We wish it’s going to be a clear sky on the day so that the couple will see each other. As the gesture that we are wishing for their happy meeting we put a bamboo outside our houses and write our wish on a piece of colourful rectangular paper called ‘Tanzaku’ and hang it on the bamboo. Around this time of last year I was working with a British retailer in London. He placed a bamboo outside his shop and asked his customers and passer-by to write their wish and hang the Tanzaku on his bamboo. Amazingly to me it was a huge hit. All people loved the idea and enjoyed the sight of it so much.
By imagining the sight of Tanabata Bamboo I created this sweet for July.
During the Easter Holiday I make Hot Cross Buns almost every year. I like the spices and dried fruits inside the buns and of course plenty of clotted cream on the halved and slightly toasted buns too. However, this year I wanted to make something a little different. Something a little more Japanese … so, I decided to add a Japanese ingredient into buns.
Western people might think that Japanese are eating rice all the time but actually we love bread. In Japan we have all sorts of bread from savoury to sweet. One of the Japanese favourite sweet bread is Anpan which is a bun filled with ‘An‘ (Sweet Azuki Bean Paste) in the centre. I decided making this Japanese nation’s favourite buns for this Easter by mixing with one of the most famous Japanese flavour ‘Matcha’ Green tea.
Matcha Hot Cross Anpan
As this was for the Easter I made a cross on top and call it Matcha Hot Cross Anpan!! It went fairly well, apart from … it’s overbaked. The batteries for my timer ran out so I did not time the baking. I distructed using the computer and forgot about the baking. It turned out that the top became too dark and hard to see the cross. It also dried up a little and the Sweet Bean Paste is not as moist as it should be.
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.
Have a Very 🎄Merry Christmas🎄, Everyone!!
I made two types of Japanese sweets for December. You might have noticed that one of them has been briefly introduced as the part of White-Christmas Market report in my previous post.
Christmas Tree 2017
It is December, the Christmas month. So one of them I made is of course a Christmas Tree. This one is my third attempt in making a Japanese sweet ‘Christmas Tree’ for last two years (the last years’ one is here with Mochi Snowman😊) and I am satisfied with this year’s one the most.
Have a wonderful Weekend!
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.
Have a safe and wonderful Weekend, Everybody! (^_-)-☆
Wow, time passes so quickly! It is already April and we are officially in Spring! This winter was so mild in England and spring has arrived early too. I heard that in several areas in Japan the symbol of Spring ‘Sakura’ Cherry Blossom has been flowering slowly this year and still not fully opened, however, it has been flowering everywhere in London. The trees in the park where I live nearby actually lost most of the flowers and leaves are coming out already. Since I was looking forward to seeing beautiful cherry blossom, it is sad that the best season is going so quickly.
Anyway, when this season comes I have to make some sweet in the Sakura theme for April.
Sakura/ Cherry Blossom
So, this is my ‘Sakura’ Cherry Blossom sweet this year.
I feel the sky looks brighter these days. The atmosphere is lighter and the air is warmer. I sense that the spring is coming nearer day by day. I even feel birds’ song sounds so much more cheerful. Maybe they are happy that spring is just around the corner.
About two weeks ago I posted that the 3rd of March was the Girls’ Day in Japan. The symbol of the Girls’ day is ‘Momo-no-Hana‘ Peach Flower, and this flower is also the sign for the arrival of spring. I made a Japanese sweet inspired by Peach flower for this month.
‘Momo-no-Hana’ (Peach Flower) Mochi