7 popular western desserts that Japanese chefs made their own
(CNN) – Japan has long been famous around the world for its varied and delicious dishes, from sushi to ramen, such staples appearing on menus around the world.
Unlike Japanese sweets – called wagashi – Western-style sweets, called “yogashi”, are mostly made of flour and sugar. But the Japanese versions are generally less sweet than their Western counterparts.
Many classic yogashi that are popular in the West arrived in Japan centuries ago and have since been adapted, refined and popularized. Some of the biggest dessert brands have already opened chains in other Asian cities, from Bangkok to Taipei.
âI think the goal of trying to create new things while incorporating (classic methods) leads to further development,â Akabame explains.
âJapanese customers love to taste as much as they can and know their favorite dishes. Thanks to these competitive markets, some chefs are taking a famous position and creating popular products,â Kawamoto told CNN Travel.
Given Japan’s status as a leading travel destination before the pandemic, a successful new version of a cake would often quickly become all the rage in other Asian countries.
Here are some of the popular cakes and desserts that Japanese chefs have made on their own.
Strawberry shortbread pie
Japanese strawberry shortcake has become a popular winter cake in Asia. Here’s the version at Good Good, a bakery in Hong Kong.
After opening a confectionery shop in Yokohama in 1910, Fujii traveled to the United States to hone his pastry skills and knowledge. It was there that he first tried strawberry shortcake and fell in love.
A year later, Fujii returned to Japan to create his version: an airy and soft layered sponge cake coated in velvety cream and garnished with candied strawberries.
Considered a luxury to be offered on special occasions, the festively colored dessert is now synonymous with Christmas in Japan. Hotels, department stores, and bakeries all promote their versions of strawberry shortbread over the holiday season.
The tradition and popularity of the Japanese version of the iconic cake has even crossed its borders.
“I put it on our menu every winter because, despite its simplicity, it’s a cake that makes you feel so happy. It’s basic but there is so much room to explore and improve.”
The Japanese group Juccheim recently invented an AI oven that cooks Baumkuchen on a spit.
Baked on a spit-shaped roasting pan, Baumkuchen is a round German cake with golden circular lines resembling the growth ring of a tree (see the image at the top of this story).
“Baumkuchen in Germany is defined by the German Confectionery Crafts Association. On the other hand, Japanese is undefined and has many versions created by many chefs,” Kawamoto explains when asked. asked to compare the two.
Although it now symbolizes peace, longevity and everlasting love, the Japanese Baumkuchen had dark beginnings.
According to legend, in 1909 Karl Juchheim – founder of the Juchheim group – opened a pastry shop in the Chinese city of Jiaozhou, which was under the German concession.
When World War I broke out, Juchheim – who served as a soldier in the German army – was sent to internment camps in Japan with his wife. It was there that he began to prepare and sell the first Baumkuchen cakes in Japan in 1919. After the end of the war, the couple remained in Japan and opened E. Juchheim in Yokohama in 1922.
Baumkuchen became popular over the following decades for a number of reasons: there was the wedding cake boom in the 1960s, followed by increased demand for local gourmet cakes in the 1980s and the rise of Japanese sponge cake. in the 2000s.
Today, Juchheim Group has stores across Asia and Baumkuchen has become a staple on Japan’s dessert menu.
Bunmeido is one of the most famous Castella brands in Japan.
Castella’s origin story combines poor communication with a 500-year-old business history.
In 1543, a few Portuguese merchants became the first documented Europeans to reach Japan after a storm diverted their ships. In the following years, the Portuguese established a trade relationship with Japan.
It quickly became known locally as “Castella” and became a popular dessert across the country.
These days, Castella is made in different flavors – from chocolate to matcha – and the thickly sliced ââpound cake with a caramelized top goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee.
Bunmeido and Fukusaya are two popular Japanese brands selling these cakes.
Namashibori Montblanc is a specialty chain that serves Mont Blanc with garnishes of freshly squeezed chestnuts.
IMM Food Services Inc
Although Mont Blanc makes frequent appearances in bakeries around the world, few countries have shown as much affection for this dessert covered with chestnut vermicelli as Japan.
There are even shops specializing in different styles of Mont Blanc – from a six-seater waguri (Japanese chestnut) Mont Blanc store that gives out limited tickets at 9:30 a.m. each morning to Namashibori Montblanc, a chain of stores that has its own chestnut. pressing machine to ensure maximum freshness.
In 1933, after the founder experienced an incredible hike in Mont Blanc in France, he asked permission both from the mayor of Chamonix (where Mont Blanc is located) as well as from the president of the Hotel Mont Blanc in the city before naming its Tokyo dessert shop after the delicious treat.
Beard Papa’s is one of the biggest cream puff chains in Japan.
Akabame says that despite the evolution of so many amazing desserts, his absolute favorite is a sweet classic – cream puffs.
The pastry chef is not alone.
In the 1850s, Yokohama was a designated foreign colony and was open to foreigners who lived and worked there. This is where a French baker introduced his first cream puffs to Japan.
The candy quickly became a hit, with pastry chefs from all over Japan traveling to Yokohama to learn the trade.
Morozoff bakery is said to have created the first Japanese-style cheesecake in 1969.
Founded by a Russian confectioner in Kobe in 1931, Morozoff started out as a chocolate factory. 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 cheesecakes are often praised for their light, chewy texture – a marked departure from the dense versions that many know and love.
Puffed cheesecake, also known as dancing cheesecake, is the fluffiest version of all Japanese cheesecake variations. It is so light and airy that it trembles when it moves.
It’s usually made by folding cream cheese into a meringue – the mousse is made from beaten egg whites, giving it an ultra chewy texture.
Flipper’s Japanese Pancake Restaurant specializes in fluffy puffed pancakes with sumptuous toppings.
Similar to the idea of ââpuffed cheesecake, puffed pancakes from Japan are buns made from meringue, resulting in an extremely airy texture.
The origins of these delicious, highly photogenic treats are obscure, but most would agree that the trend started in Japan within the past five to 10 years.
Now appearing in Instagram feeds around the world, these fluffy, rippling piles of pancakes – eaten all day, not just for breakfast – accompanied by colorful fruit and cream are available in many specialty stores across the world.
Top image credit: Juchheim Group