October 4, 2022
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(CNN) — Japan has lengthy been well-known internationally for its numerous and scrumptious eats, from sushi to ramen, with such staples showing on menus around the globe.

However in recent times phrase has additionally unfold about its experience in one other culinary enviornment — muffins and pastries. The nation’s chefs have taken lots of the historically “Western” desserts known and loved around the world and elevated them to new heights.

Not like Japanese sweets — referred to as wagashi — Western-style confectioneries, known as “yogashi,” are made principally of flour and sugar. However Japanese variations are usually much less candy in comparison with their Western counterparts.

Most of the traditional yogashi which are popular within the West made their solution to Japan centuries in the past and have since been tailored, perfected and popularized. A few of the larger dessert manufacturers have already opened chains in different cities all through Asia, from Bangkok to Taipei.

“In Japanese sweets making, there’s a tendency to include enhancements … Japan is nice at utilizing native substances and expressing the tastes of the season whereas incorporating Western strategies and combos,” says Kengo Akabame, pastry chef at Imperial Hotel Tokyo.
Akabame was a part of the Japanese group that competed at this yr’s Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, or the Pastry World Cup, and walked away with the silver prize.

“I believe that the purpose of making an attempt to create new issues whereas incorporating (traditional strategies) results in additional evolution,” says Akabame.

Hideo Kawamoto is president of Juchheim Group, one of many oldest confectionery manufacturers in Japan. He agrees that the liberty to experiment has helped the nation’s chefs construct one profitable dessert product after one other.

“Japanese prospects wish to style as a lot as they’ll, and know their favorites. By these aggressive markets, some chefs get to a well-known place and create popular merchandise,” Kawamoto tells CNN Journey.

Given Japan’s standing as a number one journey vacation spot previous to the pandemic, a profitable new tackle a cake would usually rapidly grow to be fashionable in different Asian nations.

Listed below are a few of the popular muffins and desserts Japanese chefs have made their own.

Strawberry shortcake

Japan’s strawberry shortcake has grow to be a popular winter cake round Asia. Right here’s the model at Good Good, a Hong Kong bakery.

Good Good

Among the many most iconic yogashi in Japan is the traditional strawberry shortcake, and lots of credit score (*7*), founding father of Fujiya — Japan’s first nationwide Western-style cake store chain — for its reputation.

After establishing a confectionery store in Yokohama in 1910, Fujii went to the USA to hone his pastry expertise and information. It was there that he tried strawberry shortcake for the primary time and fell in love.

A yr later, Fujii returned to Japan to create his model: an ethereal and fluffy layered sponge cake coated with velvety cream and topped with candied strawberries.

Thought of a luxurious to be indulged on particular events, the festive-colored dessert is now synonymous with Christmas in Japan. Motels, department shops and bakeries all promote their variations of strawberry shortcakes through the vacation season.

The custom and recognition of Japan’s tackle the enduring cake has even moved past its borders.

“It’s such a Japanese cake — Europe’s shortcake didn’t tackle this model,” says Tammy Chan, dessert chef and founding father of Good Good, a restaurant in Hong Kong that serves one of many metropolis’s most popular strawberry shortcakes.

“I put it on our menu each winter as, regardless of its simplicity, it’s a cake that makes you’re feeling so blissful. It’s primary however there may be a lot room to discover and enhance.”


Japan’s Juccheim Group lately invented an AI oven that bakes Baumkuchen over a spit.

Juchheim Group

Baked on a spit-like rotisserie, Baumkuchen is a spherical German cake with golden round strains resembling a tree’s progress ring (see picture on the prime of this story).

“Baumkuchen in Germany is outlined by Germany’s Confectionary Handicraft Affiliation. However, the Japanese one isn’t outlined and has many variations created by many chefs,” says Kawamoto when requested to match the 2.

Although it now symbolizes peace, longevity and eternal love, Japan’s Baumkuchen had a grim starting.

Based on legend, in 1909, Karl Juchheim — founding father of the Juchheim Group — opened a cake store within the Chinese language metropolis of Jiaozhou, which was beneath the German concession.

As World Warfare I broke out, Juchheim — who served as a non-public within the German military — was despatched to internment camps in Japan along with his spouse. It was there that he began baking and promoting the primary Baumkuchen muffins in Japan in 1919. After the tip of the struggle, the couple stayed in Japan and opened E. Juchheim in Yokohama in 1922.

Baumkuchen grew popular within the following a long time for various causes — there was the marriage cake increase within the Sixties, adopted by elevated demand for native gourmand muffins within the Nineteen Eighties and the rise of Japanese sponge muffins within the 2000s.

Immediately, Juchheim Group has outlets throughout Asia and Baumkuchen has grow to be a staple on Japan’s dessert menus.

The corporate even constructed the world’s first AI oven, referred to as THEO, to prepare dinner the cake.


Bunmeido is one in every of Japan’s most well-known Castella manufacturers.

Bunmeido Tokyo

The origin story of Castella combines miscommunication and a 500-year-old commerce historical past.

In 1543, a couple of Portuguese retailers turned the primary documented Europeans to achieve Japan after a storm blew their ships off beam. Within the following years, the Portuguese established a buying and selling relationship with Japan.

Throughout one missionary change, a easy bread made of flour, sugar and eggs was launched to the folks of Nagasaki because the “bread from Castile.” It’s stated that the locals, who beloved the cake, mistook that description because the identify and went with it.

It quickly turned identified domestically as “Castella” and grew to grow to be a popular dessert all around the nation.

These days, Castella is made in numerous flavors — from chocolate to matcha — and the thickly sliced pound cake with a caramelized prime goes completely with a cup of tea or espresso.

Bunmeido and Fukusaya are two popular Japanese manufacturers promoting these muffins.

Mont Blanc

Namashibori Montblanc is a specialty chain that serves Mont Blanc with freshly squeezed chestnut toppings.

IMM Meals Companies Inc

Mont Blanc could make frequent appearances in bakeries worldwide, however few nations have proven as a lot affection in direction of this chestnut vermicelli-blanketed dessert as Japan.

There are even specialty outlets for various types of Mont Blanc — from a six-seater waguri (Japanese chestnut) Mont Blanc retailer that offers out restricted tickets at 9:30 a.m. every morning to Namashibori Montblanc, a series retailer that has its own chestnut squeezing machine to make sure most freshness.

In 1933, after the founder skilled an incredible hike on the precise Mont Blanc in France, he requested permission from each the mayor of Chamonix (the place Mont Blanc is positioned) in addition to the then-president of Resort Mont Blanc within the city earlier than naming his Tokyo dessert store in honor of the scrumptious deal with.

Cream puffs

Beard Papa’s is among the largest Japanese cream puff chains.

Beard Papa’s

Akabame says that despite the evolution of so many superb desserts, his absolute favourite is a traditional candy — cream puffs.

The pastry chef isn’t alone.

In a current research released by Japan’s Seven-Eleven convenience stores, the best-selling candy is its choux a la crème, often known as shu kurimu, domestically. It’s a crispy and light-weight pastry with a custard cream filling. (Mont Blanc got here third in the identical rating.)

Within the 1850s, Yokohama was a delegated overseas settlement and was open to foreigners residing and dealing there. It was there {that a} French baker launched Japan to its first cream puffs.

The candy quickly turned successful, with pastry chefs from round Japan touring to Yokohama to study the craft.


Bakery store Morozoff is believed to have created the primary Japanese-style cheesecake in 1969.

Morozoff Restricted

Based by a Russian confectioner in Kobe in 1931, Morozoff began out as a chocolate store. Nevertheless it wasn’t till 1969, after then-president Tomotaro Kuzuno sampled a cheesecake in Berlin, that the model was impressed to create a Japanese model.

Japanese cheesecakes are sometimes praised for their gentle and fluffy texture — a marked departure from the dense variations many know and love.

Souffle cheesecake, also referred to as dancing cheesecake, is the fluffiest model of all Japanese cheesecake variants. It’s so gentle and ethereal that it jiggles when it strikes.

It’s often made by folding cream cheese right into a meringue — the froth is made of crushed egg whites, leading to its uber fluffy texture.

Souffle pancakes

Japanese pancake restaurant Flipper’s focuses on fluffy souffle pancakes with luxurious toppings.


Much like the thought of souffle cheesecake, Japan’s souffle pancakes are hotcakes made from meringue, leading to a particularly ethereal texture.

The origins of those scrumptious and extremely photogenic treats are murky, however most would agree that the pattern kicked off in Japan within the final 5 to 10 years.

Now showing in Instagram feeds worldwide, these stacks of fluffy, jiggly pancakes — eaten all day, not simply at breakfast — accompanied with colourful fruits and cream can be found in lots of specialty shops around the globe.

Among the many popular eating places dedicated to souffle pancakes is Flipper’s, which was based in Japan in 2016. It’s since traveled to New York, with Flipper’s SoHo opening in 2019. Flipper’s Singapore opened its first outlet in 2020.

High picture credit score: Juchheim Group

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