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helenjp

Baking Japanese-style Patisserie

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This question has come up several times...I find it useful to use Japanese recipes for "western" baking, because they are designed for Japanese flours. Also, Japanese versions of western patisserie and other cold and hot sweets has developed its own style. Recipes tend to be much less sweet than US baking, and certain local ingredients have developed into new standards.

My trusty favorite Japanese books are all long out of print, so I was forced to buy some new ones just to share with you. I've also listed some I own that are still in print.

Aisukuriimu (Icecream) ga Daisuki! Kaoru Shimamoto, under 2,000 yen, Bunka, 2004 Here

Icecreams and sorbets designed to be made in a sorbet/icecream maker. As one reviewer points out, the low-fat/low-sugar approach means they tend to be hard and icy if you rely on simply mashing up the ices manually as they form.

Full fat recipes with cream are also included, sugar is on the low side but not fanatically so.

Subtitles are in French, and there's a European trend apparent, with chestnut icecream and icecream with cherries in brandy. There is a section for more child-friendly recipes, and also plenty of Japanese or Asian ingredients, from green tea and kinako to sake and star anise.

Some sauces and recipes for serving with icecream.

Ekizochikku na Pan, by Junko Nakamichi here out of print but still availabe.

This is a slender and affordable book (under 2000 yen second hand)that is packed with recipes from China to North Africa and even central and south America that work well in Japan (stove-top baking, or short oven times), and even better, includes some homey family recipes to go with certain breads (Egyptian melokhia soup, soup to go with Chinese flower rolls, etc. I've used this a lot.

Shiritagari no Okashi Reshipi here by Rumi Kojima, Bunka, 2007, under 2,000 yen.

Reviews grumbled that the "unusual approach" was pretty much used up by the first recipe in the book, the author's trademark choux puffs with whipped cream and a rather stiff pastry cream. That is true, but the recipes (haven't yet tried this just-bought book) all show signs of thought! Eclairs with a crunchy croquante mixed into the cream, choux puffs with a cookie dough on top, how to keep sponge roll mixtures or pound cakes from being dry, yogurt cream rather than chantilly cream for fillings, etc.

Wa Suiitsu (Sweets) no Hon, here by Junko Fukuda, 1,000 yen, 2009, Graph-sha

This is my "find" of the year. I walked past it several times, the matcha roll cake on the cover just didn't arouse any curiosity.

Some recipes are quite complex, but most are not. Son made the souffle cheesecake (yuzu flavor), and it has an excellent texture. He wanted more sweetness - apart from the syrup clinging to the yuzu, there is around 1 oz of sugar in the entire recipe - but I didn't miss it.

This has all the usual matcha suspects, but a lot more besides - dark cherry yogurt mousse with salted sakura and sakura liqueur jelly glaze...Galette du Roi with azuki...sorbet with white peach and daiginjo sake...white miso and poppyseed chiffon cake...4 Japanese flavors of macaron...sesame and kinkan (those tiny citrus, forget what they are in English) tart...lots of interesting ideas. The low sugar content trend is evident throughout the book, and is typical of modern Japanese patisserie.

I bought a few books recently for a family friend who is thinking about becoming a patissier - his mother is an excellent cook, but doesn't bake, so he's starting from scratch. These are books that would be handy for a Japanese-speaker living in Japan, newly bitten by the baking bug. Sorry, I no longer have the books to hand.

Kazuyoshi Aihara "Okashi-zukuri no Naze? ga Wakaru Hon" (Bunka, 20019, under 2000 yen) here

This is one of those books that goes into basic cake mixtures in detail - how to know when you've beaten eggwhites enough, etc.

Hironori Nakayama and Makiko Kimura "Kagaku de Wakaru Okashi no `Naze?`" here

Similar to the above, but I think more detailed in analyzing "what went wrong". 21009, Shibata Shoten, under 4,000 yen. I think this is a better book, but too much for a beginner.

The "Ichiban Shinsetsu na..." series has a good cake book here that covers most standard patisserie cakes. I bought the bread book here in this series for my young friend, because it contains some easy small breads (grissini), as well as being comprehensive enough to cover natural yeast baking.

SO...what do you bake in Japan, what Japan-style desserts do you make or want to make?

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One more ... this is a recent book by Katsuhiko Kawata, "Beeshikku wa Oishii - Au Bon Vieux Temps Kawata Katsuhiko no Okashi"

It costs a whopping 6,500 yen. I have an out of print softcover (Kurashi no Sekkei series no. 210) book of his on traditional French baked goods. It is not a fat book, but it is outstanding. My copy is falling apart, I never look at any other book when I want to make something that he has a recipe for. Time is no object, his methods for candying fruit or making fruit pastes are just pure, unhurried classicism. I haven't seen this new book - since the book I have concentrates on older traditions, the recipes are not the usual modern range of patisseries.

Au Bon Vieux Temps shop is in western Tokyo, near Oyamadai on the Tokyu Oimachi Line. I hope to visit one day.

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As a child I enjoyed making biscuits, biscuit bars & sweets like truffles or toffee or fudge or the like, as well as the ubiquitous chocolate-cornflake things, marshmallow-caramel rice krispie stuff & Royal Scott - based fudgy chocolate bar. Somewhere in there was a crushed-cornflake chocolate bar with a mint-cream-then-hard-chocolate covering, and of course millionaire shortbread. As a teenager I grew away from it - in spite of this, having little record of my recipes from that time feels like a missing arm :blink: - and the answer for me now to "what do you bake in Japan ?" is roughly bread, pizza and pastry.

In the last couple of years I have made Ecclefechan tart, millionaire shortbread, tablet and one more thing I can think of right now. If I get round to sourcing a proper powerful hand mixer, I'd like to see if I can master the genoise technique. The occasional times I ever made a Victoria or all-in-one sponge weren't very inspiring (though a long time ago in what has turned out to be a one-off, I had great success with a rolled-up chocolate sponge log, following Delia Smith's recipe).

The one other thing was, I tried adapting my easy & delicious lemon cheesecake to raspberry (I used too much liquid; it leaked. It remained delicious). Reading your post has inspired two thoughts - (1) I could try some Japanese-style baking... some day :rolleyes: ; and (2) yuzu cheesecake - particularly as this is a recipe that showcases the bright, bright freshness of the citrus fruit, using both zest and juice. We're just coming in to yuzu season. Yes :smile: I like this idea.

Sorry to be far from the meat of your topic.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Not at all far from what I broadly conceive of as "the topic"...on the one hand, the Japanese take on western sweet dishes has developed into an interesting tradition...on the other hand, there are certain things that work better than other for expat cooks (easier to make/better liked by Japanese palates)...on the third (?) hand, there's an interesting kind of whirlpool where those two currents meet.

For example, for people outside Japan, the idea of a yuzu cheesecake is exotic...for us, it's partly about using accessible and affordable ingredients. I can source yuzu way more easily than I can find cherry preserves, for example, and ama-natto (candied beans) are easier and cheaper to find than good quality dried fruit.

How did tablet go down, by the way? I find it interesting that Japanese find western baking too sweet (though I admit that I find US baking very sweet)...whereas westerners often find an (bean jam) too sweet at first. And what is Ecclefechan tart?

Shortbread - I really like making shortbread in Japan, Japanese people seem to like the crisp/tender texture better than the texture of bagels or fruitcake, and there is a nice range of rice flour to choose from. I know some people like to use cornstarch etc in "melting moment" style shortbreads, but I don't at all like the excessively fine texture that creates. I'Ve tried various kinds of joushinko, and now use a combination of Riz Farine and cake flour.

That "Wa Sweets" book gives shortbread proportions as: 100 g butter/50g powdered sugar/120 g cake flour/40 g joushinko. That's about the proportion of rice flour to wheat flour that I use, but I find the total amount of flour vs butter depends a bit on how finely milled the flours are - rice flours in particular vary a lot, and the riz farine is finer than joushinko, meaning that a little more butter is sometimes needed.

Kinako shortbread with brown sugar is a good taste, but needs a bit of experimentation as the moisture in the sugar and the generally ornery nature of soy flours can make the shortbread too hard. I have to do some more experiments with that...

Mixers: the average Japanese mixer is obviously meant to whip cream or eggwhite, not cake mix (and certainly not yeast batters...don't ask...). My husband bought me a Braun multi-mix by accident. That has outlasted all its many Japanese-made predecessors. Amazon.co.jp sell Cuisinart, but they do take up a lot of room.

Nothing to stop you making genoise with a balloon whisk, though. The hand mixing entitles the cook to an extra slice of cake!

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Nothing to stop you making genoise with a balloon whisk, though. The hand mixing entitles the cook to an extra slice of cake!

This cook's forearms disagree with you :biggrin: Cream and eggs are the two most frequent victims of my ballon whisk, but I'd have to be really keen to throw genoise at it in preference to swinging the ten minutes over to Yodobashi Camera and its ever-demonically-tempting kitchen gadget floor. They have Cuisinarts too. I already have a couple of pieces of equipment on a seat and on the floor... evidently my priorities are in a fankle.

I only fed that batch of tablet to foreigners (myself and some Aussie friends), but previously it's gone down well with sweet, sweet-toothed Japanese ladies. Careful audience-vetting goes a long way.

Ecclefechan tart is kind of like a Canadian butter tart, but with a layer of nuts / raisins / dried fruit - so easy to make once you have pastry, and so good. I make it in one big sheet in a shallow tray.

I like shortbread, too - I've been using cornflour in the millionaire version, and I'm grateful for your comments about rice flour. I tried-but-rejected a Heston Blumenthal formulation with egg yolks in it - at present I use 8oz flour / 6 butter / 6 sugar / 2 cornstarch. In the past I've used Delia Smith's idea of semolina, but it's not something I generally keep on hand. I also have a 'hot-water-crust-method' shortbread recipe I need to try out, via Google from Meal-Master at cs.cmu.edu - Carnegie Mellon, apparently ? Kind of appropriate for Scottish shortbread.

IIRC the handmixer I looked at the other day claimed 120W. What would you say is a good power to be able to cope with the heavier stuff ? I remember reading about it somewhere, but not where.

A few years ago I was introduced in Nakatsugawa to local specialty kurikinton, which were very good, and of course made from whole chestnuts. The recipes I see in Japanese that include chestnut flour seem to use imported Italian stuff, which seems kind of strange. Am I just badly informed, or does Japan not produce chestnut flour even though it has a chestnut crop and so many chestnut vendors in the winter ?


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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FWIW, in baking class (ABC Cooking School), we used Japanese mixers and our genoise always turned out fine. It was a pink mixer--about Y4000, I think. I used to have one when I lived in Tochigi, but I can't remember the brand. It was pretty common, though.

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Pink mixer...my gadget crypt contains a pink Mitsubishi cake mixer rated 60 watts. There's a dead Bamix in there too, they are now 250 watts, but my old one is probably less than that.

My beloved Braun Multimix is 350 watts, and current models are 300 or 400 watts. Even the cheapie Tescom mixer is 500 watts...I think you can see where this is going, but note that the Cuisinart handheld seems to be about 170 watts. That's similar to some Japanese handheld mixers...I'm not convinced!

Chestnut flour...I believe that most processed chestnut for use in confectionery gets turned into paste (for those "Mont-blanc" cupcake things), did find one reference ONCE to Japanese chestnut flour, but wonder if it is aimed at wagashi and may be too coarse for western baking? There are several products which are used as flours elsewhere in Asia, but not here. Maybe this is just one of them.

For that reason, my October-born DH gets cakes and pastries with satsuma-imo or pumpkin creams. He's totally unimpressed, he really wants a strawberry shortcake, and after 20 years I have yet to convince him that in October, I can't even find frozen strawberries.

Fruit and nuts...I really resent paying a high price for ingredients for homey baked goods, and substitute freely. What does everybody else use "instead"?

Talking of subbing, lard is often cheaper than butter, even in Japan, and if you make your own on your way to making Okinawan andansu, making lardy cakes becomes a positive virtue!

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IIRC, the wattage on small appliances usually refers to the amount of power the appliance uses, not what it produces. Like I said, we made very good genoise with our Japanese mixers. It may also have been because the recipes were for smaller amounts than standard North American recipes, though. I wouldn't have used it for a large cookie dough batch, but I wouldn't use the American-bought hand mixer I have for large cookie dough recipes, either. (Mostly because the beaters are very poorly designed.)

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There's also Quick & Easy Small Cakes by Kazuko Kawachi, translated by Yukiko Moriyama (Joie, Inc., 1983, 3rd printing 1994). I don't know if it's still available in bookstores; I bought mine in Hawaii several years ago.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

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Come to think of it, I've also made flapjack a couple of times - sub-ing honey for golden syrup. Yes, I ran up against the price of oatmeal - in fact I brought a kilo over from Scotland in August. Now I see Nisshin WD carrying a big (5kg ?) box of American oats that works out at an almost realistic price per kg. These may be back on the menu.


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Come to think of it, I've also made flapjack a couple of times - sub-ing honey for golden syrup. Yes, I ran up against the price of oatmeal - in fact I brought a kilo over from Scotland in August. Now I see Nisshin WD carrying a big (5kg ?) box of American oats that works out at an almost realistic price per kg. These may be back on the menu.

I would bet they get it from Costco. The big 2x2kg box of old-fashioned Quaker Oats is just over Y1000 there, and a lot of businesses seem to be getting stuff from Costco and re-selling it (I found Kettle Chips at National Azabu that still had the Costco label on them).

My favourite Japanese cookbook for sweets is the one where I got my lemon souffle cheesecake. I've mentioned it before--it's a cookbook for teenage girls that I borrowed from a junior high I once worked it. All the recipes looked great, but I never went beyond the lemon souffle cheesecake.

Another great cookbook is one a student lent me. She made some incredible caramel nut tarts for Valentine's Day, and I asked her for the recipe. Turned out to be from a Daiso cookbook!

I'd like to get more Japanese cookbooks, but I worry that once I leave, I'll forget how to read them. Not that I can read them all that well to begin with, but I can usually figure out enough of the directions to get by.

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Are these considered yogashi as opposed to "truly Western" bakery? I have been trying to find books in English that deals with this yogashi, and I don't seem to find any unfortunately. Does anyone have any suggestions, thanks.

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Keiko Ishida "Okashi" came out late last year...haven't seen it, though a blog references it here

There's also an out of print (I think) book by Sachiko Moriyama, "Cakes you can Make". That's from 1989, and may be less characteristic of the modern Japanese approach to cake baking, which is to reduce sugar and fat to levels which are sometimes very successful, and sometimes alter the texture beyond the cakelike.

Funnily enough,I don't get the impression that "yougashi" is considered a Japanese-born subtype of patisserie the way that Taisho/Showa "youshoku" is...although if somebody said "yougashi" I'd immediately think of Japanese-style strawberry shortcake...and my husband's response was "cream puffs".

I did a bookshelf check at home and at local stores and on Amazon.co.jp and noticed that most Japanese books on western baking just refer to "okashi", and have dropped the "western" part right out...just as the Ishida book title suggests.

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