Happy Easter, Everyone! There are many Easter related food and sweets but there is one thing I make every year, which is Hot Cross Buns. I like its spicy taste and the smell filling in the kitchen while you are baking. It is just heaven! I am trying to stop using animal products these days but I love Cream or Clotted Cream on that spicy buns.
This year, however, I decided to make something similar in shape but completely different. The sweet I made was not baked→steamed, not buns→Manju. Got it? I made a Japanese steamed sweet ‘Manju’ with a cross on top.
Steamed Cross Manju
Steamed Manju is good as it is, whether it is hot as just steamed or cold with a bowl of tea or coffee. However, because I made these Manju look like Cross Buns this time I also set it out like the teatime version on Easter.
I had some organic Oranges so I wanted to use the whole of them including the skins. I decided to make my favourite Magic Cake with the Oranges. However, there was a problem. I had all the basic ingredients except for butter at home. Instead of going to the shop to buy some unsalted butter I wanted to try using Coconut Oil. Because the characteristic of Magic Cake is its custardy creamy base, I was a little anxious if the taste would come out as it should be. But I tried making it as an experiment anyway.
Orange Magic Cake
By my exeperiment the Magic Cake with Coconut Oil was just fine. It might have been better actually. It worked as a Magic Cake and tasted much lighter on my palate.
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.
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?
Yuzu 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.
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.
Have a Very 🎄Merry Christmas🎄, Everyone!!
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.
Oh, we are in October now. It is the month that Halloween is coming! Last year I made two types of Japanese sweets for this Halloween month. One of them was Jack-o’-Lantern and the other one was Mochi Ghost. Actually I started making a Ghost like sweet two years ago and then last year’s Ghost was my revenge creation because the first one was not that a great Ghost. I made a blog post and tweeted about it with photos and then actually it got a good reaction from people. I received many great comments regarding the sweet (Thak you!). The Ghost sweet was also served at Wasoukan Café (Notting Hill, London) and the manager told me that that sweet was the best seller amongst all the sweets they had sold last year. I started thinking that I should make this Ghost sweet as my yearly traditional sweet in this season so that I created another one for this year’s version.
Mochi Ghost 👻 2017
I made a little similar one in order to meet the people’s expectation but slightly different Mochi Ghost again. This time it is vertically standing 3D Ghost.
Apart from Grape Mochi the sweet I have created for my September Japanese sweet. I used a perennial flower called Japanese Anemone as the inspiration for this time. Japanese Anemone get lots of flowers around this time of a year which has either pink or white petals with a greenish yellow round centre. When the flower’s gone this round part stays and it looks like small a pom-pom on a stick sticking out from the plant.
I chose Japanese Anemone as the design for this month’s sweet not just because it is a very seasonal flower in gardens right at the moment but also it has the word ‘Japanese’ in its name. What else is more suitable for this occasion than that.
As I mentioned in my previous post I was indulging myself in the baking with Blackberries. It is now too late to pick any Blackberries in London but I heard the Blackberry season has not even reached in Scotland and some area in the States are in the middle of the season right now. I am so jealous of the people who can still go picking since I did not have enough to make jam this year. Anyway, I made several cakes and desserts and I’d love to introduce the recipe of one of the best amongst them.
Blackberry Magic Cake
It is the recipe that is based on my favourite Magic Cake which has three layers of Soufflé like top, moist cake in the middle and a custard cream like soft bottom. When I have plenty of Blackberries I always bake a custard tart with them so I know Magic Cake and Blackberries work perfectly as a combination, so what I had to do is just get going.