RocketNews 24 (by Audrey Akcasu):
Few things are more refreshing on a hot summer day than a nice big slice of a juicy, red watermelon, whether served plain, salted or drizzled with lemon juice. Internet marketplace, Rakuten, however, thinks they have a match for fresh watermelon, and it’s available to order for a discounted price on one day, for one hour.
Welcome back to the scene, Suika (Watermelon) Baumkuchen!
While the Suika Baumkuchen is not a real watermelon, you may think so if you saw it. Shaped and colored like the real deal, this traditional German pastry, which has become wildly popular in Japan, would confuse even the most astute watermelon connoisseurs.
Baumkuchen are also known as “spit cakes,” as they are made by pouring layer after layer of cake batter on a spinning rod, gradually getting wider and thicker. It’s even sometimes called a “tree cake,” (a literal translation of the German, where baum = tree and kuchen = cake) as the rings resemble the rings on the cross-sections of trees.
▼ The spit leaves a big hole in the middle.
Unlike typical baumkuchen though, this watermelon baum cake, is not just a ring-shaped, yellow cake. The outer layers of the cake are made from a green, melon-flavored batter and further decorated to resemble the striped, telltale watermelon pattern.
▼ The making of the deliciousness.
Typical baumkuchen have a big hole in the middle, where the rod of the spit had been. To make the Suika Baumkuchen, however, they filled that middle section with a red, watermelon-flavored mousse, spruced up with chocolate chips to serve as the seeds.
▼ It’s approximately 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall, 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) in diameter at the top and 11.5 centimeters (4.5 inches) in diameter in the middle.
The cake is then chilled so the mousse can set, so serving the cake is easy and simple – sure beats cutting up a watermelon, plus you can eat the rind!
▼ Rakuten real-time ranking: Consistent Champion.
Is your mouth watering yet? Too bad, you’ll have to wait awhile, and that’s only if you’re lucky. The cake, which sprang to fame last summer after being broadcast on TV, is consistently ranked as the best baum cake by Rakuten pollers.
Despite its popularity, the cake is not a commodity normally found on the Internet marketplace. It’s making a comeback though, albeit not the kind you may be hoping for.
▼ The Suika Baumkuchen will be available for purchase for 1,980 yen (US$16) on Rakuten on Saturday, August 1 from 11:00-11:59 AM.
That’s right, the cake will be on sale for only one hour on one day this summer.You better check your Internet connection and get your credit card ready before 11 AM, if you want to have any chance of getting one these watermelon flavored, summertime refreshers. According to some reviews, you should probably try to get one:
“Someone had one and I got to try it. It wasn’t just cute, it was delicious.”
“When I saw the picture I thought it was a watermelon. It even looked so much like a watermelon up close and when I was cutting it. My family was so excited. It was delicious.”
If you need your watermelon cake fix now, or just want to check out its origin, head to the city of Tomisato in Chiba Prefecture, one of the watermelon capitals of Japan, where you can join watermelon themed road races and are sure not to find a silly watermelon like this.
You’re probably already aware that a large amount of independently-run donut shops in California are Cambodian-owned. What you may not know is that the donut shop industry is an integral part of the Cambodian immigration story.
In honor of National Donut Day, we decided to look into the history of hardworking, Cambodian donut shop owners:
1) Finding a donut in Cambodia is harder than you think.
There may be donuts if you look hard, but if you thought you’d find streets lined with donut shops in Cambodia, you’re in for a let-down. While donuts are a large part of the Cambodian American culture, many can tell you that this is purely an American tradition. Allegedly, there is only one donut shop in all of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
2) It all began with a man named Ted Ngoy.
Before donut shops were associated with the Cambodian American culture, there was Ted Ngoy paving the way. He arrived in the U.S. in 1975 and two years later, he began his own donut shop. Clearly, his legacy continued.
3) “The American Dream”
“Ngoy is the one who found a way for Cambodian immigrants to become part of the American dream of owning their own business,” said Dennis Wong of the Asian Business Association. “Taking a loan from an Asian loaning society, Ngoy was able to buy two stores, operate them for awhile and then sell to someone in the community or a family member who wanted to buy them. That’s how they got into it.”
4) Running a donut shop is hard work.
You’ll often hear about these donut shops having only a few workers in order to save money. In fact, many of the workers are family members who must find time within their day to help the family business. As a result, many owners will work long and tiring hours to make sure their shop is functional. Additionally, many donut shop owners have voiced that the long hours have made it difficult to assimilate into a new society.
5) They have thrived.
An estimated 80% of donut shops in the Los Angeles area are owned by Cambodian Americans. In Houston, Texas, the percentage is an even larger 90%.
As we follow the Chinese zodiac here in Japan, we too are celebrating the Year of the Sheep this year. Not surprisingly, that means we’ve seen an abundance of sheep-themed products for the New Year, including some in edible form. Famous bakery chain DONQ is just one of the many companies that offered such sheep-related food items, and their selection of sheep breads was so cute, we simply had to share them with you. Just take a look at the pictures, and we think they’ll get you in the mood to start off the Year of the Sheep in good cheer!
Headquartered in the city of Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture, DONQ has been in business for nearly 110 years, with over 120 stores across Japan. Befitting a chain spread across the country, they sold a variety of sheep-shaped breads in different areas of Japan over the New Year’s holiday, and while they’ve now finished selling these breads, the different creative designs certainly make for entertaining viewing. So, here are pictures of the baked sheep goodies from DONQ according to the area where they were sold:
●Hokkaido Area: “Fluffy Lamb Bread” and “Happy Red and White Sheep Bread Set“
The set of two sheep breads in the center, done in the traditionally lucky colors of red and white, contained strawberry cream cheese and custard cream respectively, and was priced at 389 yen (US$3.25). The slightly smaller white “lamb” breads surrounding the red and white sheep contained custard cream and sold for 260 yen ($2.16)
●Kanto Area: “Chinese Zodiac (Eto) Bread Sheep“
These fellas, who look like they’re sleeping blissfully, were melon breads filled with custard cream and cost 281 yen ($2.35) each.
●Tokai Area: “Chinese Zodiac Bread (Sheep)“
These cute sheep-year breads with googly eyes were made from melon bread and priced at 238 yen ($1.99).
●Kyoto/Hokuriku Area: “Fluffy Sheep“
These soft-looking sheep breads were filled with chocolate cream inside and sold for 303 yen ($2.53).
●Kobe Area: “Chinese Zodiac Bread (Sheep)” and “Osechi Cuisine Bread“
In the front here we have smiling sheep breads that were filled with chocolate cream, priced at 238 yen ($1.99). The set of New Year’s osechi cuisine-themed breads in the back cost 562 yen ($4.70) and included snapper-shaped bread containing custard cream, melon bread in the shape of a traditional hagoita wooden paddle, crispy prawn crackers and bread filled with chestnut and sweet potato paste.
●Chugoku/Shikoku Area: “Mr./Ms. Sheep “
These sheep shaped creations contained custard cream and sold for 281 yen ($2.35). The chocolate legs look precious!
●Kyushu Area: “Chinese Zodiac Bread (Sheep)”
These adorable round sheep with a white cookie-like surface were priced at 281 yen ($2.35).
There were also two beautiful sheep breads from Johan, another bakery chain belonging to the DONQ group:
● (Johan) Kanto Area: “The Dream Pursuing Sheep 2015“
This artistic bread was made from a cocoa flavored base bread filled with raspberry jam and chocolate cream and was priced at 260 yen ($2.18).
●(Johan) Nagoya Area: Chinese Zodiac Bread (Sheep)
And the last of the sheep breads from the DONQ group this year is this soft-looking creation filled with custard cream, which sold for 260 yen ($2.18).
So what did you think of all the darling little sheep in baked and edible form? They look absolutely sweet, and judging from the descriptions with all those custard and chocolate creams, we’re sure they tasted plenty sweet too. The time for New Year’s bread may be over for this year, but we’ll certainly be looking forward to lovely zodiac breads from DONQ again next year, when it will be the Year of the Monkey. Until then, we wish you a splendid Year of the Sheep!
When I was young, I spent most of my Saturdays at my grandmother’s house, secretly picking flowers off her houseplants, overfeeding her goldfish and eating up all her snacks that she would get from Chinatown. I say “all her snacks,” but my grandma really only had two snack foods in her cupboard — one was the family pack lemon puff biscuits, which always tasted dry and slightly artificial, and the other was Garden coconut wafers, which I knew had been laying around for a while. See, to save money, my grandma would buy the wafers in these big metal tins, which would take forever to finish. And for that reason, all the Garden wafers I’ve ever eaten at my grandmother’s house always tasted a bit stale. Still, I opted for the wafers over the biscuits.
I had a very specific method of eating the wafers. Because I was only allowed to have a few per visit, I would split the wafers into individual layers, so that it would seem like I had a whole lot more to eat than there actually was. As a kid, I would do this to all of my snacks, just to prolong my time with them. Sounds kind of silly, right?
But it’s funny how when I share these stories with my Asian friends, nearly all of them reciprocate with their own stories. My friend Timmy from Taiwan would freeze his lychee before eating them like little frozen popsicle balls. And my college classmate Grace, who grew up in Brooklyn, would take Haitai French Pie cookies, eat everything except the middle, and save the center apple pie filling for her last bites. “Always the last two bites because that was how the center fit perfectly into my mouth,” she says.
Of course, my love of Asian snacks didn’t end as a child. As a college student, the Japanese fruit gummy candies — you know, the ones that come in apple, kiwi, strawberry and lychee — were my ultimate companions for late night studying. A small confession is that I would bring them into the library as well. (An even bigger confession is I’ve prob- ably brought a snack into every library I’ve ever been in — and the culprit snack was usually Asian. I know, I know, but it’s hard to walk away once you’re in the studying groove.) Anyway, any “library snacker” can tell you that the hard part is not sneaking the snacks into the library, but eating them in silence. That takes skill, especially when you’re eating those crunchy rice crackers.
Now as an adult, I still find myself watching TV and curled up next to a bag of prawn crackers or snacking on the latest red bean, green tea and sesame Pocky. To this day, Asian snacks remain a comfort food for me. So here’s my own attempt at recreating that magic with a homemade Choco Pie recipe.
– 1 1/4 cup cake flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– splash of vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff pr marshmallow creme
Chocolate Ganache Coating:
– 8 oz chocolate chips
– 1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make batter by mixing dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Fill whoopie pie pan or muffin tin with 1/4 inch of batter.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cakes turn golden brown on the underside. Let cool. (Tops may still look pale.)
5. Meanwhile, prepare ganache by bringing a cup of heavy cream to a boil.
6. Immediately remove from heat and pour on top of chocolate.
7. Whisk till smooth. Set aside.
1. Cut tops off cake so that the surface is flat.
2. Spread about a teaspoon of marshmallow filling on the cake. Top it off with another cake, making sure the golden brown sides are exposed.
3. Place the assembled cakes on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the ganache. Pour a small amount of ganache on top of each of the assembled cakes until the tops and sides are cov- ered. A spatula may be needed.
4. Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
– Story and photos by Christina Ng
This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine’s Fall 2014 issue.
Remember the Kit Kat Chocolaterie, the world’s first Kit Kat specialty store that opened in the Ikebukuro Seibu Department Store back in January this year? The shop sells limited edition Kit Kats produced by celebrity patissier Yasumasa Takagi, so it’s not surprising that huge crowds of Kit Kat fans have been making their pilgrimage to the store in search of unique Kit Kat products.
Since then, the Kit Kat bandwagon has apparently been going strong, as two more Chocolaterie shops have opened in Japan, one in the Daimaru Department Store at Tokyo Station and another at the Matsuya Department Store in Nagoya. And now, they’ve announced that they’ll be coming out with a special “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Patissier Gift” set for Christmas, and we can’t wait to see what goodies it contains. Plus, there’s even a Kit Kat inspired Christmas cake created by chef Takagi that they’re now taking orders for — who knew that Christmas could be so much fun for Kit Kat lovers?
The gift set, which contains special Kit Kat Chocolaterie products and chef Takagi’s original baked confections, is a dream collaboration for any sweets fan.
For 4,500 yen (US$37.92), the set contains one piece each of the “Kit Kat Sublime Bitter” and “Kit Kat Sublime Raspberry“, a box of the “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Special Strawberry Maple” and also the “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Special Ginger“, plus five madeleines and four cookies from chef Takagi. A delightful added touch is that the madeleines have a whole Kit Kat baked into them, giving them a crunchy texture, and the cookies also contain crunched Kit Kat bits — they definitely aren’t your ordinary baked treats!
You can now also pre-order this delectable looking “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Noel” cake covered in shiny chocolate, available for 5,000 yen ($42.13).
The cake too is the work of chef Takagi and was created as an homage to the well-loved Kit Kat snack. The cake, made from layers of caramel butter cream, crispy fiantine cookie and biscuit, is designed to recreate the look and texture of Kit Kats without actually using the snack as an ingredient. Now, that certainly makes for a unique Christmas cake!
Chef Takagi commented that he wanted to include items in the gift package that would offer a sense of genuine surprise, which is why he came up with the idea of baking an entire Kit Kat into the madeleines, and as for the cake, he made an effort to create his own rendition of a Kit Kat using original ingredients, resulting in what he hopes is a delightfully surprising and fulling cake.
The “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Patissier Gift” will be available at all three Kit Kat Chocolaterie stores for just one week from December 19 to 25, but they’ll be selling only 20 sets each day, so they may very well sell out. You can also place orders now for the “Kit Kat Chocolaterie Noel” cake at the Ikebukuro Seibu store and the Tokyo Daimaru Store until December 20 for pick-up on December 24, but these are also limited to a total of 75 cakes, so anyone intending to order one may want to hurry.
So, if you’re celebrating the Holiday Season this year in Japan with someone with a fondness for Kit Kats, these could be the perfect treat. Here’s to a chocolatey, crunchy Christmas!
Culinary Brodown is pretty good about taking its food to the next level, but this is pretty crazy, even by Brodown standards.
We’ve seen ramen transformed into burgers, burritos and even pizza, but this is the first time we’ve seen it incorporated into dessert. The ramen donut, or the Boston Creme Ramnut as they’re calling it, consists of ramen boiled in horchata, filled with Boston creme and covered in chocolate.