Happy birthday…to me! I am 1 year older, not much wiser, but definitely more skilled in baking today than a year ago. I still have loads more to learn and I am looking forward to this journey. 🙂
This wonderful recipe is from Ms. Keiko Ishida’s Okashi cookbook. Her explanations are clear and precise and the methods used are simple and straight-forward. The cakes in the cookbook are simple and elegantly presented, which is the way I prefer.
On a trip to Japan, I brought back some Meiji heavy whipping cream from Hokkaido. I was scouting around the supermarket and spotted this packet. Unlike the other brands, all the words were in Japanese and there was no way I could surf the net at that point to confirm if I bought the correct type. Thank God I did. 🙂
This cream has 47% fat in it. 47%! No way can I find this in Singapore. So far what is available at the supermarkets are only 35% maximum. 47%! I wish I could buy a whole truck-load of this back. But of course, there is a fast expiry date. So I contented myself with 5 packets of 200 ml each (my sis was going: “Are you sure?? So many??”) which already cost almost S$30. I stuck these 5 precious packets in a cooler bag at the very last minute before departing the hotel, stuck the cooler bag in a zip-lock bag and placed everything in my check-in cabin bag. Needless to say, all throughout the 6+ hours flight I was thinking of burst cream and ruined clothes. Hahaha.
Nothing of that sort happened. In fact, the cream survived very well and was even cool when I extracted it from all that packaging. The cream is thicker and looks richer than the ones I normally buy. It whips up really fast and it is recommended to whip this over a bowl of ice water to prevent curdling, which I obediently did. I love this cream. Pity no one imports this to Singapore, likely because of the high cost and the fast expiry. Ah well, someday I aim to go to Japan and bake a cake there using all Japanese ingredients. Heck, why not make it every part of the world I can go? It’d be an interesting baking goal.
Back to the cake. The sponge is a genoise that is quite simple to whip up. The addition of glucose, I gather, is to keep the cake moist. The unusual part to me is the vanilla cream. It is basically whipping cream with the addition of vanilla extract, milk and gelatine. I don’t really fancy gelatine. So I substituted it with agar-agar. The problem was how much agar-agar to use. Too much and you end up with a harder than desired jelly cream. Too little and everything is runny. Looking at the packaging of the agar-agar, the recommendation is 10 grams for every 1000 ml. Since the amount of liquid in this cream is 170 ml, 1.7 grams is the recommendation.
However, I wanted to achieve a softer jello like consistency. So I took a risk and used 1 gram of agar-agar powder instead. It worked. 🙂
Japanese Style Strawberry Cake (from Keiko Ishida’s Okashi cookbook)
- 170 grams eggs
- 115 grams cake flour
- 130 grams castor sugar (I used 115 grams)
- 15 grams glucose
- 30 grams unsalted butter
- 45 grams fresh whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 25 grams castor sugar
- 50 grams water
- 150 grams heavy whipping cream, at least 35% fats
- 20 grams fresh whole milk
- 15 grams castor sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 g gelatin sheets (I used 1 gram agar-agar powder)
- 200 grams heavy whipping cream, at least 35% fats (I used 250 grams)
- 15 grams castor sugar (I used 17.5 grams)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 300-350 grams of strawberries (I cut half the portion into slices and for the rest, I just sliced off the tops)
For the genoise sponge
- Line the base and the sides of a 18 cm round cake pan with removable bottom. Make sure the parchment paper for the sides sticks up at least 1 1/2 inches above the pan. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
- Sift flour twice. Set aside.
- Boil a small pot of water. Prepare a large heatproof bowl. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water in the pot. Once water boils, reduce fire to low.
- In a medium bowl, add butter, milk and vanilla and place over the pot of simmering water. Once butter melts, remove from heat, mix well and set aside.
- Crack eggs into the large heatproof bowl. Using a hand whisk, whisk for a minute. Add in sugar and glucose and whisk for another minute. Place bowl over the pot of simmering water.
- Test the temperature of the egg mixture with your little finger. When the egg mixture is warm, remove from heat and beat at high speed with a hand mixer until thick and fluffy. This should take about 5 minutes, depending on the power of your hand mixer. Another test to check if the egg mixture is ready is to lift up the beater and the mixture from the beater that falls back will not incorporate into the rest of the mixture easily.
- Reduce hand mixer speed to low and beat for another minute. This will help reduce large air bubbles in the batter.
- Add 1/6 of the batter to the butter mixture from step 4. Mix well.
- Pour the butter mixture from step 8 back to the rest of the batter and gently fold in until just combined.
- Sift the flour into the batter. Fold in gently until batter becomes glossy.
- Pour into prepared pan. Rap the pan a few times on the counter to get rid of air bubbles. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Remove cake from pan and cool on a rack in a plastic bag.
- When completely cool, trim crust off the top and bottom and slice cake horizontally into 2 layers.
For the sugar syrup
- Mix sugar with water and stir well.
For the vanilla cream
- Whip cream in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Place milk, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add softened gelatin sheets (or agar-agar powder) and mix well. Let the mixture cool to around 30 degrees C, then add to whipped cream and fold until just incorporated.
- Place one cake layer onto the cake board or plate.
- Brush sugar syrup onto the cake.
- Spread half the vanilla cream on the cake. Top with sliced strawberries. Carefully spread the other half of the vanilla cream on top of the strawberries. Smooth and even out the cream as much as you can.
- Brush sugar syrup on the other layer. Place on top of the cream (syrup brushed side down) and press down lightly. Brush sugar syrup on the top. Refrigerate the cake for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the cream for decoration.
For the whipped cream
- Mix whipping cream with sugar and vanilla, in a chilled bowl.
- Whip cream to stiff peaks using a hand mixer, placing the bowl over ice water.
- Cover cake evenly with whipped cream.
- Decorate with strawberries as desired and serve immediately.
One load of instructions eh? It may seem like a lot but when you get down to it, it comes together pretty fast. If you love strawberries and cream, this is the cake to try. The odd part from the instructions was to remove the cake from the pan and stick it in a plastic bag, on a wire rack, to cool. This step is to prevent the cake from getting dry while cooling. Problem is, it is a big hassle to attempt to remove the cake from the pan whilst still warm. I ended up mushing a bit of the top of the cake since the sponge was so delicate. As for removing the crust, as the cake cools in the bag, water condenses on the top and when cooled, there was no need to ‘remove the crust’. The crust came out on its own easily.
I had a lot of fun decorating. I smoothed the whipped cream on as much as I can, then used Wilton 1A tip to pipe simple flowers and simply relied on the lovely color of the Korean strawberries to complete the decoration.
Taste? Absolutely amazing. This is the first time I’ve tasted Hokkaido whipped cream and I must say, it is delicious. So creamy and so milky! I am glad of all the trouble I took to lug those small cartons of cream back. 🙂