worms-and-dirt-cupcakes-japan

Sweet September

I posted on my Facebook page early in September warning that I would be posting an abnormal number of cupcakes this September. I had several batches to make; a picnic, son’s birthday party, friend’s son’s birthday party and my son’s school birthday party.  So here is a roundup. I ended up doing a cake for my son’s birthday party. My recipe of choice is the Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe.

Standard changes to the recipe

  • make half a batch of icing – I can’t imagine putting the entire amount of icing on just twelve cupcakes
  • reduce the sugar in the cake to 60 grams per batch – I have given this to a number of Japanese people and this seems to be an amount that is not too sweet
  • I’ve use cow’s (about 3%), soy and rice milks, all with good results

I’ve also done some flavor adjustments

  • for black sesame cupcakes see this post
  • for cookies and cream cupcakes, whir up most of a package of oreos in the food processor and add 2/3 to the batter and 1/3 to the icing. Reduce the sugar in the batter to 40 grams.

worms-and-dirt-cupcakes-japan

Worms and dirt cupcakes – these are cookies and cream cupcakes made with the instructions above. The “dirt” is more whirred up oreos.

nozomi-shinkansen-train-cake

Nozomi shinkansen cake – this was my son’s birthday cake for his party. I used the cupcake recipe above and baked it in loaf pans and then shaped it. The morning was hot so it was a bit melty in the picture.

coconut-cake-japan

 

Coconut cake – this cake I made for my son’s actual birthday. I wanted cake. It was good but not good enough to share the recipe link.

birthday-cupcakes-japan

 

Vanilla cupcakes – these were the cupcakes I made for the birthday party at my son’s school. They do one party a month instead of having individual parties. I made three batches of the cupcake recipe (36 cupcakes) and two batches of icing. I still had enough icing left over for one more batch.

 

black-sesame-cupcake

Black Sesame Cupcakes

black-sesame-cupcake

I had a cupcake craving but no desire to make plain vanilla or chocolate, the only two flavors I had ingredients for. I decided to give black sesame a whirl. I checked Pinterest and found these two recipes. The first one looked beautiful but seemed too much work. The second one had matcha cream cheese icing on top which made me cringe. I decided just to see how much sesame they put in and modify a vanilla cupcake recipe. I went with the Hummingbird Bakery recipe as I know it works well.

I really enjoyed them and the husband gave two thumbs up. These are not too sweet and are suitable to make for people in Japan. I made a half batch of icing and still had leftovers. This could be because I used tall cups so I ended up with only nine cupcakes instead of twelve.

You can see that I don’t use a lot of icing. This is a result of living in Japan so long. I can’t stomach a big swirl of icing on top. If you make these for Japanese people (or anyone from a country that doesn’t use much sugar) or long term expats, I would recommend a thin layer of icing and reducing the sugar to half.

black-sesame-cupcake-2

Modifications to the cupcakes

  • reduced the sugar to 100g (you could go down to half and not miss the sugar)
  • used rice milk instead of whole milk (that’s what I had)
  • took out one tablespoon of flour (to balance for the ground sesame)
  • added two tablespoons of ground black sesame
  • used a hand mixer (whipped butter, added dry ingredients, added wet ingredients)

Modifications to the butter cream

  • made a half batch
  • added in one tablespoon of ground black sesame before the powdered sugar
  • didn’t actually measure the powdered sugar (I have followed the recipe properly before and it was great)
  • used a hand mixer

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Do you have a go to recipe that everyone should try? Leave a comment below.

gluten-free pumpkin pie

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie

When I asked what kind of allergy-friendly recipes everyone wanted gluten-free was the most common response. I was planning on starting with a basic bread recipe but once I started researching I found that gluten-free bread making is going to take a bit of time to perfect. I was naive and expected I could just order a couple of new flours online and get started. This is a gluten free version of my Grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe. You can use non-dairy milk to make it dairy-free as well. I have yet to try making an egg-free version with a flax egg but if you do please let me know how it works out.

The filling is the star of this pie. If you are looking for the pastry to be the star I recommend checking out this recipe.

gluten-free pumpkin pie

Flour used in the crust: rice (米粉パウダー found in the flour section of your supermarket)
Milk used in the crust and filling: soy (I usually use milk in the crust and sweetened condensed milk in the filling)

Easy Gluten-free Pie Crust

Based on a recipe I cannot remember the source of

Makes enough for one medium sized pie plate

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar (or other type of sugar)

2/3 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons milk (non-dairy is fine)

Add the dry ingredients to the pie pan (ungreased) and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients and mix with your hands. Once you have a dough press it along the sides of the pan. You do not need to prebake this before adding the filling.

Gluten-free Pumpkin (kabocha) Pie Filling

Makes enough for two medium sized pies

1 1/2 cups – 1/4 of whole mashed cooked kabocha squash
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup milk (non-dairy works well) 
1/2-2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 220C. Whisk everything together until smooth. I often use an immersion blender. Add to the pie shell and bake for ten minutes at 220C and then turn down to 160C and bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is just starting to brown and it passes the toothpick test. Cool and serve.

kinako-walnut-banana-pop

Kinako Walnut Banana Pops

kinako-walnut-banana-pop

This last week summer has ramped up it’s heat and I need to cool down. What better way than with a nice banana pop made with whole foods? Each pop has about 2/3 of a banana so they are a good little kid snack as well. I have been using banana as the base for popsicles for a few weeks now and they seem to be going over well with everyone who tries them.  The ingredients for this recipe also taste good in oatmeal just in case you were wondering.

If you were wondering, the moulds I have are from Ikea and I love them. Each popsicle has its own separate cover and there is a stand to go with. I find it a lot easier to take them out and refill them when they are individual.

kinako-walnut-banana-pop-ingredients

Kinako Walnut Banana Pops

Makes 6 pops

4 bananas
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped finely
1-2 tablespoons kinako (soy bean powder)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients until combined. Fill up your popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.

*Note: if this is your first time using kinako add it slowly as it has a strong flavor

Sakura products in japan

Sakura Love

Sakura products in Japan

For some reason I am in love with sakura flavored stuff this year. In past years I didn’t give sakura flavoring the time of day. Probably because sakura season is during allergy season so I don’t participate in all of the hoopla. No picnics for me. I think I have only done it twice in my eight years here.

In the picture:

1. Sakura green tea
2. Sakura salt
3. Sakura macaroons
4. Sakura umeshu
5. Sakura bean paste
6. Pancakes topped with sakura bean paste
7. Sakura rice mix