Japanese Birthday Cake

I created something I have never made before. I received an order for a Birthday Cake by one very enthusiastic customer of my sweets when they were served at the Kimono shop in Notting Hill, London. There were two options for a Japanese sweet cake. One of them is a traditional Japanese sweet in a cake shape and the other one was a cake with a traditional but sponge-like Japanese sweet as a base with some Japanese decorations. Japanese sweets I often make are mainly made with beans, sugar and rice flour so that they are vegan. I could happily make the traditionally Japanese vegan sweet into a bigger cake shape, however, I have been thinking to try making a very western looking cake but actually a Japanese sweet.

Japanese Birthday Cake

I suggested the latter option to the client and she agreed with it, so here is the Japanese Birthday Cake I made for her.

Birthday Cake2

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Yuzu Mochi

When did ‘Yuzu’ became a household name? Maybe it is not that well known yet but if you are an official foodie, you must have heard the name at least once. For me the first time I heard the name Yuzu coming out from an English person’s mouth was on TV programme ‘the Great British Bake Off’ a few years ago. One of the contestants was using its juice as the key ingredinent for his special cake. So what is Yuzu?

SONY DSCYuzu is a small citrus fruit we cultivate in Japan. It has a quite tough skin and a sharp taste so it is not for eating fresh as a dessert fruit, but it has a marvellous aroma so we add the juice or skin into some dishes and a dipping sauce for enhance the flavour.

When I saw the baking programme I thought ‘where did he get that Yuzu from?’ I believe almost nobody knew about the fruit in England at that time and it was impossible to find Yuzu anywhere in London. How funny the time passes and the situation changes. Now, just a few years later, the bottled juice is available in major supermarkets and if you are lucky, even fresh ones can be found in some Japanese Food shops.

Yuzu Mochi

In a cold evening it is wonderful to have a Hot Pot with a hint of Yuzu flavour. So Yuzu is a flavour of Winter.

I made a Mochi sweet that has a scent and flavour of Yuzu.

Yuzu Mochi

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Ginkgo Leaf

My second sweet for November is also in the Autumn Colour theme. The shape is the leaf of ‘Ginkgo’ which becomes the most brilliant yellow colour during this season. Ginkgo is one of the most ancient plants which has not evolved for millions of years. The Ginkgo tree is originated in East Asia and I think there wasn’t many in the UK before. However, I noticed lately more Ginkgo trees along many avenues in newly developed area.

Leaves on grundI have a beautiful childhood memory with Ginkgo leaves. I think it was in somewhere in Kyoto. I was about 3 or 4 years old and running around in a Shinto Shrine ground which was covered with magnificently yellow Ginkgo Leaves fallen from the numerous trees. It was like a massive carpet spread out as far as I could see.

 

Ginkgo Leaf

So, I chose the image of my childhood memory for making the November sweet.

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Autumn Mountain

We are in the middle of Autumn – Winter transition now. It is getting very cold lately but this chilling weather is the key to the magnificent sights of nature during this season. When the temperature drops the colour of leaves change from green to yellow or it goes even further to orange and then red. It is due to the chemical reaction in leaves. This is called Autumn Colour and can be seen on the leaves of deciduous plants.

‘Autumn Mountain’ Mochi

So, as one of the sweets for November I wanted to create a sweet in Autumn Colour. I want you to imagine all the mountain changing the colour from its deep green to various colour of yellow, orange and red but in a very tiny scale.

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Mochi Ghost’s Fancy-dress Party

One of my Mochi Ghost received an invitation to the Halloween Fancy-dress Party. He wanted to disguise himself so he put a blond wig on and then he became …

Mochi Ghost8p

Mochi Ghost ‘Trump’

He thinks he looks alike somebody you know? Can you tell who it could be?

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Halloween Black Cat🐱

I needed to make two Japanese sweets for October. It is quite normal that a typical Japanese sweet maker gets an idea for designing their sweet from some seasonal flower/plant/fruit or event occurring during the month. So what is the most significant thing I could use for designing this month’s sweet?

As a ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweet designer who lives abroad a big event in October is Halloween. I had already decided one of the two sweets would be a Mochi Ghost, but I wanted to make another one in the Halloween theme too. When I was searching images of this theme it became obvious that the second sweet has to be a Halloween cat. It is not an any cat, it has to be a Black Cat.

Halloween Black Cat 🐈

So, these are my Black Cat sweets for this Halloween.

Black Cat1p

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Grape Mochi for September

September has just started. It means it’s the time that my sweet for this brand new month should be introduced. During the spring – summer season we get various fruits and vegetables harvested or found in a shop and I have used some as inspiration for the flavour or the image of my sweets such as mango, strawberry or Raspberry. So what kind of plant or fruit I can use for my sweet this month?

The variety of fruits are becoming less in this season. Luckily I found a very good one. Actually it was in my garden. I noticed that there were some branches stretching out from the next door. That was a grape vine and the fruit was just getting ripen. Yes, it is not my plant but some branches are coming into my side and reachable, AND nobody-else seems to care, And I think it is a sin to waste food so I took some grapes and tasted. It was a little sour and tangy comparing to the shop bought ones but not too bad to eat.

Grape

The Grapes from my garden

So, it is the Grape season now and I used this inspiration for creating my September Japanese Sweet.

Grape Mochi

This is a Mochi type sweet. I decorated the plain Mochi with Grape pattern as a reminder of what is inside.

Grape Mochi1p

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What a ‘Sake Experience’!

I told you that I love Sake before and I am even certified as a Sake Sommelier too. I’m a bit concerned that if I say so it might sound like I drink a lot of Sake everydayπŸ˜†. On the contrary I have it only on a very special occasion. In that way I think I can appreciate the special taste more. Anyway, Sake is the Japanese Rice Wine and becoming very popular in the world. It has started being brewed outside of Japan lately and I have recently met British people who have their own ‘Sakagura’ (Sake brewery) in London. It was so unthinkable until very recent that I see Sake made in the UK with my own eyes.

Sake event 2So, this week was one of those special occasions that I had Sake. I went to one of Sakaguras in London, however, this one is not a Sake brewery. It was a Japanese restaurant which has a huge selection of Sake to serve. The occasion was for attending ‘Sake Experience’ event which was organised by Japan Centre. It was designed for Sake lovers to discover new great Sake or for people who don’t know much about Sake but want to try something new. It is also the occasion to suggest people how to match what kind of Food with different kind of Sake.

🍢’Sake Experience’🍢

Sake event 4At each table, people were greeted with a glass of Sake cocktail. It was a Sake & Gin cocktail with Pineapple Juice with a hint of Yuzu (Japanese citrus). It was very smooth and tasty. It was a great start.

Soon after the first Sake was introduced to our glasses and the event commenced. The person explaining all about that evening’s Sake was Atsuhide Kato, the CEO ofΒ Kato Kichibee Shoten Brewery in Japan. He brought the best selections from their brand “Born” series.

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