The quarter final match ‘England vs Ukraine’ of Euro 2020 is on tonight. I made the British bulldog with Japanese sweet for supporting England in the last World Cup so this time I created the Queen’s Corgi for supporting them. It’s a plant based edible Corgi.
Wagashi Day started dating back to the year 848 when there was an outbreak of plague in Japan. On the 16th of June the Emperor made the offering of sixteen confectionery to a shinto shrine as the greater purification of bad luck. He prayed for the end of the epidemic and good health. Since then this day became Wagashi Day.
Instead of making offering, I have been using the day as an opportunity to introduce my creations. Although Wagashi day passed two days ago, I’m going to show you my sixteen sweets I created in the year 2020 and pray for the end of this pandemic and great health to you all! 😊💕
When is the best season for having Mont Blanc sweets? It’s using chestnuts so I assume it must be Autumn. However, being a chestnut food lover there is no such thing as a bad time for having Mont Blanc for me.
Mochi Mont Blanc
So I created this Mochi version of Mont Blanc. On top of a soft mochi type sweet plenty of chestnut cream swirled up. It was a little hard to squeeze out chestnut paste and it does not look as I wanted. However, it is a hand/home-made sweets after all. If it tastes good, who cares.
When I opened my blog for writing this new article I was so shocked to realize that it hasn’t been updated since the beginning of March. I know I haven’t posted much lately but there’s no excuse for nearly three months of absence. However, one thing I can tell you is that I have been creating sweets and there are lots of photos of them and half written articles in my folder. It was just because many things happened. We are at the end of May now and I have almost missed the opportunity to post about the beautiful Sakura season. Almost! We are still in springtime, right? So, it’s better late than never!
The beautiful season passed very quickly. I am talking about the Sakura Cherry blossom season of course. In a normal year cherry blossom flowers at the beginning of April. It’s the start of an academic year in Japan so all parents and children who are dressed up for the entrance ceremony to school take a photo with fully blossoming cherry trees. However, I heard that cherry blossom opened so early this year and it was actually the earliest flowering in 1200 years in Japan. It means that the parents and children could not have a memory shot in front of the beautiful sakura this year sadly.
Although it’s been so cold in the UK for 2-3 weeks now in May, we had wonderful weather at the beginning of April. It was good enough weather for viewing single-petal cherry blossoms which was also great timing when the strict lockdown was just eased a little. Lots of people were in the park but still socially distancing between each group.
For this springtime I made several cherry blossom sweets and the first ones are these. They might look similar to the one I made last spring but I introduced a little different technique.
The 3rd of March, was Hina-matsuri the Girls’ Day in Japan. People celebrated the girls’ healthy growth by placing Hina-dolls and having some special food and drink on this day. The most famous meal for this day is Chirashi Sushi with clear soy sauce based soup with clams. Since it is the flowering season of Plum tree, the day is also called Momo-no-sekku which means Plum blossom day. In sweets wise we have Hishi-mochi, a diamond-shaped tri-coloured mochi in green, white and pink, and Hina-rice-crackers etc.
I made a Mochi type sweet for this year’s Hina-matsuri. What I wanted to create was a mochi which reminds of Hishi-mochi sweet.
By following Storm-Darcy’s arrival to the UK very cold air has been sitting over London for a few days now. It snowed at the weekend and since then we still have some white cover left on ground even after two sunny days. It may seem like we are in the middle of winter but I know nature is preparing to be ready for spring.
I created this sweet with the image that a tiny plant sprouting out from white blanket of snow in my mind.
Do you look forward to springtime? I can tell you that actually spring has just started according to the old lunisolar calendar. The period of the beginning of spring is called ‘Risshun’ in Japan and it’s between the 3rd – 18th February this year. I must say that Japanese are the nation who’d like to celebrate any seasonal occasions so of course we never miss the chance at this particular time of year, however, it’s not for the beginning of spring.
The one day before the beginning of spring is called ‘Setsubun’ (the 2nd /Feb this year). It’s not a national holiday, but rather significant day for most Japanese and there are a few customs we do on this day depending on the area. One of the customs widely done on this day is ‘Mame-maki’. It’s the getting rid of demons and bringing luck into the house ritual. Quite often one of the family members wears a demon face-mask and stands at the entrance of the house and other people throw roasted soybeans (peanuts in shell instead in some area) at him/her from inside the house by shouting ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’ which means ‘Demon’s (Oni 👹) out! Luck gets in!’. Another popular custom is eating a futomaki sushiroll with seven fillings called ‘Ehoumaki’ by facing to a certain direction (it’s west-south-west this year).
Ehoumaki Sushirolls & Mame-maki Sweets
I created miniature versions of Ehoumaki sushirolls (cut version) and Soybeans in wooden cup for Mamemaki with Japanese sweets.
The year 2021 has just started but we are already in the fifth day in the New Year! Since we entered into this pandemic time has passed too fast. Now we are facing an even tougher situation particularly in the UK and our movement will be more restricted soon.
Ox Year has begun!
For celebrating the New Year I created some Japanese sweets. One of them is the red and white sweet with Japanese ‘Mizuhiki’ design that I used for my New Year card. Another one is this sweet. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the year of the Ox. I know the design on this sweet is a cow and not ox nor bull, but in Japan we include all their family.
I made this sweet with an image of a happy cow jumping up on the spring field. I wanted to create something rather comical to cheer us up by hoping this year will be a better one than 2020!
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.