Tag Archives: mochiko

Berry Blossom Pie

Berry Blossom Pie {take 2: Mochiko...madness?}

You want pies with that… spoonful of nostalgia?!

This month’s YWPWT theme – VACATION PIE – was chosen by Jenn of Piccante Dolce, and our mission was to bake up a sweet (or savoury!) treat inspired by vacations we’ve taken or hope to take.  Initially, I was at a loss as to where to even start with this one because there are loads of places I hope plan to visit someday…But it also got me thinking about the brilliant holidays I’ve been lucky enough to take already, and suprisingly – out of all the more exotic vacations (Reunion, Peru, Thailand..) – I kept coming back to..{drumroll here}….. family trips to the lake every summer.

I lived in Tokyo for 7 years as a child, and each summer we fled the hot, sticky city for a few weeks of rustic cabin-dwelling and lakeside lounging.  So my entry is an ode to those vacations:

..to the  tortuously boring 5-hour car journey from Tokyo, the lack of tv (!), the smell of musty sheets on a rickety bunk-bed, the injustice of having to share a room with my younger brother, and the sickening stench of outhouse drop-toilets… unforgettable.

But I’ll also never shake the memory of trekking up windy mountain paths to the tiny local store (the only store), just to collect the best blueberry pies I’ve ever known.  “Blueberry pie??! In Japan??!” you cry.. yeah, it seems odd. to me anyway.. I’ve always associated blueberries with New England (although they’re grown in virtually every US state apparently), so when the YWPWT challenge sent me on this trip down memory lane I googled & learned:

“The Nojiriko area has numerous roadside stalls and farmers’ markets where you can buy great local produce for a quarter of the price you would pay in Tokyo. The tomatoes and peaches are renowned and the region grows blueberries, apples, pears, corn, edamame and dozens of other fruits and vegetables, as well as all sorts of local specialities such as Scotch thistle preserve, walnut jam and aloe vera honey.”  [from this site]

Who woulda thunk it. (Not the bit about the insane prices in Tokyo..that I remember clearly).  So my entry to this month’s YWPWT challenge is a blueberry pie inspired by the ones I stuffed my face with each summer up in Lake Nojiri.  I tried to add some Japanese elements using cherry blossom cutouts, but the first version I made was VERY juicy and unfortunately the juice seeped out of the cuts, completely obscuring the blossom shapes. doh. (Apologies for the crappy pic – it’s mine..)

Berry Blossom Pie - take 1

Berry Blossom Pie - take 1 {the runs}

So I made another pie (some call this as madness, I call it ‘seconds’).  This time I decided to live on the edge and embrace the Japanese theme more fully by substituting Mochiko for the cornstarch. I’ve posted about Mochiko before, but just in case you don’t know: it’s a glutinous sweet rice flour used in Japan for making mochi..and as far as I know (not far), it’s not traditionally used as a thickener in pies.. (er, pies aren’t really ‘traditional’ Japanese desserts  anyway I suppose).

you say wonky, I say rustic..?

Berry Blossom Pie - take 2 {you say wonky, I say rustic..?}

So the Mochiko experiment has just come out of the oven and I have no idea whether it’ll work taste-wise.. but I’m going to take a risk and offer this one as my YWPWT entry.  The first pie hasn’t been sampled yet either, so I’m planning to bring both over to a friend’s house tomorrow evening for a blind taste-testing and I’ll post the verdict + recipes once judgement is passed.

Big thanks to Jenn for picking such a fun theme! Please check out the YWPWT blogroll to see what she and the other creative tartelettes came up with this month Xx


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Matcha, mochi and more..

Right well…. I promised to post more pics today of the crumble topped banana apple bread I made for yesterday’s Sweet Melissa Sunday deadline, but my live-in photographer had other things to do so that will just have to wait… which means I’ll have to maintain some self-control to ensure there’s still something to take photos of tomorrow. damn.

So instead, I thought I’d post a few recent experiments:

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A few weeks ago we went to a fantastic Japanese restaurant – Bento Box, go – for a friend’s birthday and it sparked a bit of an obsession.. I’d been playing around with the idea of joining the Iron Cupcake London challenge and as this month’s theme happens to be ‘Cupcakes of the World’, I’ve made it my goal to put together a tasty Japanese-themed cupcake fit for the competition.  Now, this is a bit odd because although I grew up in Japan, I never really developed a taste for most of the Japanese foods that friends and family seem to love – e.g. sushi, sashimi, ramen.. and especially green tea, bean paste and most so-called ‘desserts’.

But I’ll try anything in cupcake form.

I came across Chockylit’s recipe for matcha green tea frosting and promptly cycled down (yes, cycled..I was that pumped, haha) to the Japan Centre in Piccadilly Circus for ingredients.  This was an easy cream cheese based frosting and – it still shocks me to say this – it’s DELICIOUS. seriously, I love it. The taste is hard to describe – I’d say the matcha almost adds a nuttiness.. or something.. I added a teaspoon of orange extract in an attempt to get a satsuma-ish theme going and an extra teaspoon of matcha powder just to make sure the green tea flavour came through.

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This is definitely one I plan to use again – for the Iron Cupcake London competition and just for fun.  It went over reeeeeally well with friends.. (Particularly with one friend who I’d describe as a fanatical dessert-hater in fact  – she had 2!!)

* I was going to offer MATCHA POWDER as my ‘most unusual ingredient’ entry for Katiecakes’ fantastic giveaway, but I also picked up this at the Japan Centre:

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No, not the lucky cat.  (ha ha.. what a card I am, eh?).  The package he’s propping up contains Mochiko – glutinous rice flour – which is used to make ‘Mochi’ in Japan.  From what I remember, Mochi is a chewy, mildly sweet bread (?) often filled with sweet bean paste.  Have a look here to get an idea.  I’m guessing that using Mochiko will be my most unusual baking experience – because even though it’s not unusual at all in Japanese cooking, it’s a far cry from my usual bakes and my  typical tastes.

I was NOT a fan of Mochi balls as a child. I always mistook the bean paste for chocolate and felt horribly cheated once I’d bitten in and realized my error.  But the idea of making these Mochi balls, and using whatever filling I fancy, really intrigues me… (though I do intend to try the beanpaste again).  Have a look here, here and here for a few tasty-looking recipes I’ve been considering..

I’ll let you know the verdict once I get around to this one – but in the meantime, check out Katie’s gorgeous blog for a look at what other unusual ingredients her readers have been cooking with! xx

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