Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Hojicha & Kuromame Roll Cake ほうじ茶黑豆ロールケーキ

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My first encounter with Japanese-inspired western confections was a matcha cake from Sun Moulin, a boulangerie-patisserie located at the basement of Isetan Scotts. It was from an ex-student’s mother who had generously offered me to try a matcha cake from them during a lesson with her daughter many moons ago.  Since then it had been no turning back. I especially love how the Japanese pastissiers attempt to infuse ingredients, culinary methodology and even ideas from Wagashi 和菓子 and even washoku 和食 into the art of pastry making. Naturally when it comes to baking, I like dabbling with the idea of incorporating Asian flavours into cakes and bakes. This roll cake is no exception.

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I got my copy of 我♥和風洋菓子 by 福田淳子 (wa sweet recipe by Junko Fukuda) 2 years back when it was first translated into Mandarin. While I ogled at the recipes and photography from within, I never got around to attempt any of them. And this time round I finally did.

Hojicha & Kuromame Roll Cake ほうじ茶黑豆ロールケーキ (adapted from 我♥和風洋菓子 by 福田淳子 )

Ingredients (for a 10 x 10″ roll cake)

For the cake

3 medium sized eggs

65g caster sugar

2 tbsp milk (full-cream please!!!)

45g cake flour

10g hojicha

For the filling

120 ml whipping cream

30g condensed milk

45-50 candied black beans
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Grind hojicha powder as finely as possible with either a すり鉢 suribachi or a food grinder.

Using a fine sieve, collect 10g of powdered tea.

Mix powdered tea with flour evenly

Over a bain-marie, emulsify eggs with caster sugar until it has more than doubled its volume to a pale creamy and fluffy texture.

Fold in milk, followed by flour mixture carefully until just incorporated.

Pour over baking tray lined with baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 12 min.

Remove from oven and transfer from baking tray to cooling rack.

Peel off sides to allow steam to escape. This helps to facilitate the cooling process.

When sufficiently cooled, place another baking sheet over the top and invert. Gently peel off the baking sheet from the bottom of the cake.

To prepare filling, simply whisk whip cream and condense milk over a cold water bath until just stuff peaks.

Spread evenly over cake roll with a spatula and align Tamba kuromame in 3-4 neat rows.

Roll cake carefully and wrap with underlying baking sheet.

Refrigerate to allow the cream filling to firm up.

Slice and serve accordingly.
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Hojicha is basically Sencha 煎茶 which has been roasted carefully in an earthern vessel over a very low flame and can be done at home give the right tools. But I bought hojicha in tea bags instead. Despite being quite small already, they still require a good grinding.
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In her book, Fukuda recommended using a suribachi to grind the tea leaves. I gave up after a min as the attempt seemed futile.  Transferred the leaves into a grinder after this photo and gave them a good whack. That certainly did the trick! Remember to weigh out the powdered tea and not the tea leaves prior to grinding.
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Cake batter speckled with tea leaves. The aroma is quite strong already! I wonder how it would be like if the milk was boiled and infused with the poowdered tea prior to making the batter. I’m pretty sure the fragrance would be more apparent and full-bodied.
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Cake freshly out of the oven with baking paper on the sides sides peeled to allow steam to escape.
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Cross-section of the cake sponge.
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丹波蜜黑豆 Tamba mitsu kuromame, candied black beans from Tamba. Got 2 packets of these from a local Japanese supermarket in Kyoto. They are very cheap in Japan since its quite a common commodity over there and we went to a local supermarket in a somewhat residential part of northeastern Kyoto. Prices are less inflated compared to the major departmental stores. Or so we tell ourselves!
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Little elongated ebony pearls. Interestingly, my first taste of these black beans was not from Japan but in Taiwan two years back. Also bought them in a local supermarket. They are commonly eaten as a side-dish for Taiwanese porridge! These more recent ones from Japan are less sweet, which is much to our liking.
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Aligning them over the creamy filling, ready to be rolled.
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Reflections and Modifications
Fukuda’s oirginal recipe is a very curious one indeed. On my first reading, I was immediately strucked by it having no direct lipid content in the form or butter or oil. So this makes the cake in some sense healthier? But this also meant one thing, that the cake would turn out reasonably drier than the usual roll, without the butter acting as a kinda agent to gel the ingredients together. Also, it would be crumbly, alikening a genoise. But at least genoise is buttery! True enough, the texture was not as “sophisticated” as I’d thought, but it surprisingly worked quite well with the Japanese tea. The texture, albeit unrefined went well with the earthly tones, both in colour and texture, that the cake portrays. But I think its entirely a matter of personal preference.

The other drawback is the sweetness. Fukuda’s original recipe called for 50g of condensed milk. Despite decreasing it by 40% to 30g, I still found it a tad too sweet for my liking, which interfered with the bitterness as well as aroma which houjicha had attempt to bring out. I would reduce the condense milk to 20g. To me, one major strength in Japanese-inspired yogashi 洋菓子 is the constant strive for balance. Nothing to overtly one-dimensional, which makes the baking and sampling experience a more eventful one.

丹波蜜黑豆Tamba candied black beans were added in this recipe as I’d thought it would be a good way to break the monotony of the creamy filling. They worked reasonably well and I attribute it to these from Japan being really “authentic” and less sweet than the others I had in and brought back from Taiwan which would become too sugary overpowering. Moreover, they look like quite decent as an embellishment for the roll.
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I am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #9 – Swiss Rolling Good Times (July 2011) hosted by Obsessedly Involved with Food

13 responses

  1. Beautiful swiss roll there !! Looks so tempting too…

    July 12, 2011 at 11:28 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Joyce!

      July 13, 2011 at 1:29 am

  2. You never fail to impress me with your attempts at trying unique asian flavored desserts and this one is no different! Although I have no idea how sencha and black beans taste, I’m pretty sure that the Japanese can’t go wrong! I also love that cross-sectional picture of the cake – the ground tea bits look lovely!

    July 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yeah you are right. It’s quite a good combination. Just that the cream filling is too sweet from the condensed milk. ground hojicha definitely adds a lot of oomph to the cake base which can be otherwise rather drab. Would try to use it in other recipes. Like Aoki’s hojicha macarons perhaps? 🙂

      July 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

  3. Beautiful Rolls alan! Hubby is now in Japan, wondering what can I ask him to bring home. hehehe

    July 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      oh lotsa stuff!!! yuzu-based stuff, sakura based stuff, japanese tea, seaweed, pastry ingredients and moulds/tools from cuoca.com. Which part of Japan is he in now? Let me know if you need more details or directions 🙂

      July 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

  4. Just scroll through your blog and drooling all over the keyboard just looking at your gorgeous photos! All so delicious looking! I especially love the one with the sakura flowers roll

    July 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Jeannie! Thanks for dropping by and you are welcome back any time! 🙂

      July 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm

  5. hello alan, how i wish i cld just pick up a piece here from my screen!I’m very curious about its taste, i dont know what’s the taste of hojicha and the candied black beans, just cant imagine but i like the colour combination here. I can see that you are making good use of all the things that you brought back from japan . Btw, you did a great job in rolling!

    July 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks lena! I like the rustic “no-frills” feel about this roll as well, if only the cake base can be anymore softer. Yes, still trying to exhaust the stuff we lugged back from Japan. Just a few more to go! And I still “owe” you that sakuramochi! 🙂

      July 20, 2011 at 1:22 am

  6. I am so intrigued by this! They look unique and delicious.

    July 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi there! It tastes quite refreshing indeed. quite unlike the usual swiss rolls we are accustoming to eating. the use of hojicha makes it real fragrant. 🙂

      July 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

  7. Pingback: Matcha and Azuki Buttermilk Pound Cake « travellingfoodies

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