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7 Popular Western Desserts Japanese Chefs Made Yourself


(CNN) – Japan has long been internationally renowned for its delicious and varied cuisine, from sushi to ramen, with staples appearing on menus around the world.

But in recent years, rumors have also spread about the firm’s expertise in another culinary area – cakes and pastries. The chefs of this country have implemented many traditional “Western” ways. Desserts known and loved around the world and take them to the next level.

Unlike Japanese confectionery – known as wagashi – Western-style confectionery, known as “yogashi”, is made mainly of flour and sugar. But the Japanese versions are usually less sweet than the Western versions.

Many of the classical yogashis popular in the West came to Japan centuries ago and have since been adapted, perfected, and popularized. Some of the larger dessert brands have opened chains in other cities across Asia, from Bangkok to Taipei.

Kengo Akabame, pastry chef at Imperial Hotel Tokyo.
Akabame is a member of the Japanese team participating in this year’s tournament Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, or the World Cup of cake and leave with a silver prize.

“I think the concept of trying to create new things while combining (classical methods) will lead to further evolution,” says Akabame.

Hideo Kawamoto is the president of Juchheim Group, one of the oldest confectionery brands in Japan. He agrees that the freedom to experiment has helped this country’s chefs successfully build one dessert after another.

Kawamoto tells CNN Travel: “Japanese customers like to taste as much as possible and know they love.

Given Japan’s status as a top tourist destination before the pandemic, a successful new cake will often quickly become mainstream in other Asian countries.

Here are some popular cakes and desserts that Japanese chefs have made for themselves.

Strawberry cake

The Japanese strawberry shortcake has become a popular winter treat across Asia.  This is the version at Good Good, a bakery in Hong Kong.

The Japanese strawberry shortcake has become a popular winter treat across Asia. This is the version at Good Good, a bakery in Hong Kong.

Good good

Among the most iconic yogashis in Japan is the classic strawberry shortcake, and many credits Rin’emon Fujii, founder of Fujiya – Japan’s first nationwide chain of western-style bakeries – because of its popularity.

After establishing a confectionery shop in Yokohama in 1910, Fujii traveled to the United States to hone his pastry skills and knowledge. There he first tried the strawberry shortcake and fell in love.

A year later, Fujii returned to Japan to create his version: an airy and fluffy layered sponge cake topped with velvety whipped cream and topped with strawberry candy.

Considered a luxury to enjoy on special occasions, the festive dessert is now synonymous with Christmas in Japan. Hotels, department stores, and bakeries all advertise their versions of strawberry cookies during the holiday season.

Japan’s tradition and popularity of the iconic cake extends even beyond its borders.

Tammy Chan, dessert chef and founder of Good good, a coffee shop in Hong Kong that serves one of the city’s most popular strawberry biscuits.

“I put it on our menu every winter because even though it’s simple, it’s a cake that makes you feel so happy. It’s basic but there’s so much more to explore and improve on.”

Baumkuchen

Japan's Juccheim Corporation recently invented an AI oven that can bake Baumkuchen over a single spit.

Japan’s Juccheim Corporation recently invented an AI oven that can bake Baumkuchen over a single spit.

Juchheim Group

Baked on a sponge-like cake, Baumkuchen is a round German cake with golden circles resembling a tree’s growth ring (see image at the beginning of this story).

“Baumkuchen in Germany is defined by the German Confectionery Handicraft Association,” Kawamoto said. “Japanese cuisine, on the other hand, is not defined and has many versions created by many chefs,” Kawamoto said when asked to compare two types.

Though it now symbolizes peace, longevity, and eternal love, Japan’s Baumkuchen got off to a grim start.

According to legend, in 1909, Karl Juchheim – the founder of the Juchheim Group – opened a cake shop in the city of Jiaozhou, China, in the German concession.

When World War I broke out, Juchheim – who was a private in the German army – was sent to an internment camp in Japan with his wife. It was there that he started baking and selling the first Baumkuchen cakes in Japan in 1919. After the war ended, he and his wife stayed in Japan and opened E. Juchheim in Yokohama in 1922.

Baumkuchen became popular in the following decades for different reasons – there was a wedding cake boom in the 1960s, followed by increased demand for local gourmet cakes in the 1980s and the the rise of Japanese sponge cake in the 2000s.

Today, the Juchheim Group has stores across Asia and Baumkuchen has become a staple of Japanese dessert menus.

The company even built the world’s first AI oven, called FOLLOW, to cook the cake.

Castella

Bunmeido is one of Japan's most famous Castella brands.

Bunmeido is one of Japan’s most famous Castella brands.

Bunmeido Tokyo

Castella’s origin story combines misinformation and 500-year-old commercial history.

In 1543, several Portuguese merchants became the first Europeans on record to arrive in Japan after a storm blew their ships away. In the following years, the Portuguese established trading relations with Japan.

During a mission exchange, a simple bread made from flour, sugar and eggs was introduced to the people of Nagasaki with the name “bread from Castile“It is said that the locals, who love the cake, mistook that description for the name and went with it.

It quickly became known locally as “Castella” and became a popular dessert around the country.

Today, Castella is made in a variety of flavors – from chocolate to matcha – and the thickly sliced ​​thick cake with a caramel topping would go well with a cup of tea or coffee.

Bunmeido and Fukusaya are two famous Japanese brands that sell this type of cake.

Mont Blanc

Namashibori Montblanc is a specialty chain that serves Mont Blanc with a freshly squeezed hazelnut topping.

Namashibori Montblanc is a specialty chain that serves Mont Blanc with a freshly squeezed hazelnut topping.

IMM Food Services Inc

Mont Blanc may appear regularly in bakeries around the world, but few countries have shown more affection for this chestnut vermicelli dessert than Japan.

There are even specialty stores for different styles of Mont Blanc – from the six-seat Mont Blanc (Japanese chestnut) store offering limited tickets at 9:30 a.m. each morning to Namashibori Montblanc, a Chain stores have their own chestnut prices with extractors to ensure maximum freshness.

In 1933, after the founder had gone on an incredible walking tour of the actual Mont Blanc in France, he asked permission from both the mayor of Chamonix (where Mont Blanc is located) as well as the then-president of Hotel Mont Blanc in town before naming. his Tokyo dessert shop in honor of delicious food.

Cotton cream

Beard Papa's is one of the largest ice cream cake chains in Japan.

Beard Papa’s is one of the largest ice cream cake chains in Japan.

Beard Papa’s

Akabame says that despite the proliferation of so many great desserts, his absolute favorite is the classic sweet cream puffs.

Pastry chefs are not alone.

In a recent study issued by Japanese Seven-Eleven convenience stores, the best-selling sweet is the choux a la crème, known locally as shu kurimu. It is a crispy and light pastry with a custard cream filling. (Mont Blanc is third in the same ranking.)

In the 1850s, Yokohama was a designated foreign settlement and was open to foreigners to live and work there. There, a French baker introduced their first cream puff to Japan.

This sweet quickly became a hit, with pastry chefs from all over Japan coming to Yokohama to learn the craft.

cheesecake

The Morozoff Bakery is said to have created the first Japanese-style cheesecake in 1969.

The Morozoff Bakery is said to have created the first Japanese-style cheesecake in 1969.

Morozoff Limited

Founded by a Russian confectioner in Kobe in 1931, Morozoff started out as a chocolate shop. But it wasn’t until 1969, after then-president Tomotaro Kuzuno tasted a cheesecake in Berlin, that the brand was inspired to create a Japanese version.

Japanese cheesecake is often praised for its light and fluffy texture – a stark difference from the dense versions that many people know and love.

Souffle cheesecake, also known as dancing cheesecake, is the softest of all the variations of Japanese cheesecake. It’s so light and airy that it wobbles when moving.

It’s usually made by folding cream cheese into a meringue – this foam is made from whipped egg whites, giving it its spongy texture.

Pancake

Flipper's Japanese pancake restaurant specializes in fluffy pancakes with hearty toppings.

Flipper’s Japanese pancake restaurant specializes in fluffy pancakes with hearty toppings.

Flipper’s

Similar to the idea of ​​cheese souffle, Japanese souffle pancakes are hot cakes made with meringues, creating an extremely airy texture.

The origins of these delicious and very photogenic dishes are murky, but most agree that the trend started in Japan within the last 5 to 10 years.

Now popping up on Instagram feeds around the world, these stacks of fluffy, fluffy pancakes – eaten all day, not just for breakfast – accompanied by colorful fruit and ice cream are available in many places. specialty stores around the world.

Among the popular restaurants for pancakes with filling is Flipper’s, which was established in Japan in 2016. Since traveling to New York, with Flipper’s SoHo opened in 2019. Flipper’s Singapore opens its first store in 2020.

Top image credit: Juchheim Group

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