Aaaahhh Christmas cake. For most of us in the Western world, this means the dense, molasses filled, door stomp like substance also known as fruit cake. No one likes fruit cake. I can already read your comments declaring that you’re actually quite fond of it and that when you make it yourself it’s delicious…I know you guys, I saw what you said on twitter. Stop that! You’re just lying to yourselves. Nobody likes Christmas cake, that is unless it’s Japanese Christmas cake!

Image result for anime christmas cake
Of course they also have adorable paw print chocolates

If you’ve ever seen an anime Christmas special, you’re probably already familiar with the concept. The baking and serving of this particular festive treat is a big part of the celebration. But the Japanese Christmas cake has very little in common with its brick calling itself a cake, counterpart. And we can all be grateful for that.

Christmas in Japan is in many ways, different from other parts of the world. As the local population is overwhelming non Christian, the holiday isn’t so much a religious ceremony as a celebration of national prosperity in the aftermath of the great war. Despite the gusto with which large Japanese cities take to decorating, it isn’t considered a national holiday and is celebrated more like St-Valentine’s is in the States.

 

Image result for anime christmas cake
yup, looks like my last valentine’s day alright

Although Christmas had been celebrated in Japan for some time, it was not until after WW2 that it took on its current significance and gained in popularity. In borrowing the trappings of this foreign holiday, the Japanese nation was showing both the world and its own people that it could right its economy, stand up tall and once again take its place in the world. So Christmas is both a symbol of hope and pride, and an ode to the relentless persistence of life. That’s kinda nice, right?

And what better way to enjoy life than sharing some cake with your sweetheart? The Christmas cake used to mark the event is just as luxurious and beautiful as the feeling it’s ment to embody. More akin to a strawberry shortcake, the Japanese Christmas cake is a light, airy, not too sweet sponge cake, oppulently decorated with mounds of pristine white frosting and perfectly ripe bright red strawberries. Is your mouth watering?

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oh no, they forgot to put the strawberry on that piece

It uses ingredients that had been rationed during the war to show a return of means. Moreover, the white and red colors are meant to match the Japanese flag (or Canadian…. maybe I should make a maple version) and is traditionally round which apparently has something to do with Shinto shrines (don’t quote me on that one). In any case, I made a bunch of them as….research for the post, yeah that’s it…. And they are delicious.

Recipe and pictures are from Cooking with Dog This is a great site, I highly recommend you go check it out. There’s also a video to walk you through the recipe. If you’re like me, this feature is more or less a must:

Cake:

 

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Cake Flour
  • 15 g (heaping tablespoon) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Milk
Soaking Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Hot Water
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch (pro tip – Sherry works too)
Toppings
  • 1 3/4 cup Heavy Cream with 35% fat
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 450 g Strawberries (a bunch)
  • Powdered Sugar
Other stuff
  1. Before you start to prepare the batter, preheat the conventional oven to 160°C (320°F). Line the bottom of the cake pan and the side with the parchment paper.
  2. Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer at low speed. Add the sugar at once and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds.
  3. Dip the bowl in hot water and beat the egg at high speed for 1~2 minutes. Temperature around 70~80°C (160~175°F) is ideal for the hot water. In this way, the egg mixture won’t get too hot. Put your finger in the mixture. If it feels warm enough, take the bowl away from the hot water.
  4. Add the milk to the unsalted butter and warm it up in the hot water.
  5. Continue to beat the egg at high speed for 3~3.5 minutes until it forms a rippling pattern on the surface. As you lift the mixer, the mixture falls back slowly and seamlessly and the trail does not go away immediately.This stage is called soft peak.
  6. Swap the hand mixer with a balloon whisk and mix the egg evenly. Shift the pastry flour into the bowl. Gently mix the flour from the bottom with a rubber spatula. Try not to break the foam and scoop up the batter about 30 times.
  7. When all the flour is mixed in, pour the pre-heated butter mixture evenly over the batter. Scoop up the batter and gently let it fall from the spatula. Repeat this process about 50 times to mix.
  8. When the batter gets glossy and smooth, pour it into the cake pan at once. Drop the cake pan a few times to break any air bubbles in the batter.
  9. Place it in the preheated oven and bake at 160°C (320°F) for about 23 minutes. Remove the sponge cake from the oven. Pierce the cake with a bamboo stick and check if the batter isn’t on it.
  10. Drop the cake pan a few times to prevent the sponge cake from shrinking. Cover the cake with wax paper, flip over and let it cool down on a cooling rack. When it becomes completely cool, lift and remove the cake pan. Flip over the sponge cake and remove the wax paper.
  11. Let’s prepare the soaking syrup. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and cool it down. Select 8 good-looking strawberries for topping and remove the stem ends. The rest of the strawberries will go between the cake slices. Remove the stem ends and slice them lengthwise into half inch slices.
  12. Let’s prepare the whipped cream. Add the sugar to the whipping cream. Dip the bowl in ice water and whip the cream with a balloon whisk. A hand mixer can easily over-whip the cream so we like to use the whisk. As shown in the video, whip the cream until in the ‘soft peak stage’.
  13. Let’s frost the sponge cake with the whipped cream. Peel off the parchment paper and place the cake on a cake turntable. Before you divide the cake in half, draw a line along the side while rotating the turntable. Slice the cake horizontally along the line so that you’ll get a clean cut. Place the upper cake slice on the rack with the cutting surface facing up.
  14. Add the kirsch to the cold premade syrup. Brush the bottom cake slice with the soaking syrup. Repeat and let the other half soak the syrup.
  15. Drop the whipped cream on the bottom cake slice. Spread the cream on the surface with a frosting spatula. Cover the cream layer with the sliced strawberries.
  16. Drop the whipped cream on top and spread evenly. Add extra whipped cream to cover the strawberries completely.
  17. Stack the upper cake slice on top with the syrup-soaked side facing down. Apply the syrup to the very top of the sponge cake.
  18. Drop a generous amount of whipped cream on top. Spread evenly with the frosting spatula while rotating the turntable.
  19. Grip the spatula vertically and cover the side evenly with the cream. Slide the spatula across the cake while scooping up the cream. Move the spatula diagonally towards your upper right, creating a decorative surface on the side. Finally, slide the spatula on top from the rim to the center, trimming the shape of the round cake.
  20. Let’s decorate the cake. Prepare the pastry bag with a star-shaped tip. Put the whipped cream in the bag. Give it a little squeeze to remove the air inside. As shown in the video, decorate the rim of the cake in a rippling pattern while rotating the turntable.
  21. Squeeze out the cream for the strawberries to go on top later. Put the tip of the frosting spatula on the cake turntable, rotate and scrape off the excess cream.
  22. Lift the cake with the spatula and serve it on a cake plate. Place the strawberries on top.
  23. Sprinkle on powdered sugar to create the look of snow. Finally, place the Christmas ornaments on top and it is ready to serve!

So how about you whip up one of these for someone special this holiday season and send us a pic. Here’s mine (digging the strawberries up from the foot and a half of snow was the hardest part!!!!

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I added chocolate pearls to mine and I had no powdered sugar. (1/3rd recipe)

Day 7 of 12

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44 thoughts

  1. Look’s good! I’m not great at baking but I might have to try this. Also, that GIF at the top of your post makes me happy. Finally, somebody else likes Nana!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Definitely fonder of the Japanese version of Christmas Cake than I am of the Japanese version of Christmas dinner. It’s not that I’m a die-hard fan of turkey/ham which I guess is tradition in a lot of Western countries, but I also can’t get behind the whole KFC-mania that goes on here every year. Sure, I like fried chicken, but KFC just doesn’t do it for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think I love you a bit. I’ve always thought “anime cake” (as I’ve always called it, because that’s the only place I’ve ever actually seen it) looks like it should be delicious, but never tried looking up a recipe or any more information about it. I sense some baking in the near future for me and my wife. (Probably mostly my wife, to be honest, because I tend to burn things and injure myself with cooking implements on a shockingly frequent basis.)

    Liked by 3 people

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