Sakura Mochi Layer Cake

This cake is inspired by sakura mochi, a wagashi treat that is served during the springtime in Japan.  It is typically sweet rice covering a dollop of red bean paste, then wrapped in a pickled sakura leaf or topped with a pickled sakura blossom.  I incorporated these elements and gave them an American layer cake twist.

Three layers of sakura cake are covered with ethereal sakura frosting; not too much of it, as I wanted the flavor of the cake to really shine through and buttercream can often dominate.  In between the cake layers are two layers of sweet red bean paste (koshian), and bits of chewy homemade mochi. The cake is dotted with pickled sakura blossoms. You can preserve the sakura flowers yourself if you have access to cherry blossoms, or you can buy small packages of them on Amazon.

Last year, I went to the sakura matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and was blown away by the number of people.  I don’t think I had seen so many New Yorkers in one place before! The people watching proved to be just as delightful as the petal watching.  I went to the festival alone, lending it a similar feel to the days I wandered Kyoto’s streets alone as an exchange student.

This cake reminds me of the beauty of wandering alone in a strange place.  When you’re alone, you can absorb the little details without being distracted or rushed.  I hope that you can make and eat this cake in a similar fashion – leisurely and with the luxury of noticing every deliberate detail.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Sakura Mochi Layer Cake

For the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons sakura extract
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Pink gel food coloring

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two 6 inch circular baking pans with cooking spray and parchment.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Incorporate the egg yolks one at a time, and add the sakura extract.
  5. Add pink food coloring, if desired.
  6. Alternate adding the milk and the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter in your pans.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 12 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1.5 teaspoon sakura extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar.
  3. Incorporate other ingredients and mix until all are combined.

For the Mochi

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup mochiko flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • corn starch, as needed

Instructions:

  1. Mix the mochiko with the granulated sugar.
  2. Add the water to the mixture and mix until a paste forms.
  3. In a microwave, heat mixture for 2 and a half minutes.
  4. Using corn starch to prevent the mochi from sticking to the table or your hands, roll the mochi into small balls.

Additional notes:

Add store bought packaged red bean paste in between the cake layers.

When working with pickled sakura, be sure to soak the blossoms before use, as they are preserved in salt.  I soaked the blossoms for about 30 minutes and sprinkled sugar on them after laying them out to dry on a paper towel.

Mini Edible Flower Garden

Hello folks and happy spring!  I have a lot of exciting styling jobs coming up this month, so this week I’ve been focusing on renewal and trying to fortify my life with relaxation and creativity so that I don’t burn out.

As some of you may know, I have fibromyalgia, a muscle pain and fatigue disorder.  I have to be extra careful about watching what I do so that my energy levels remain intact.  While having fibromyalgia sometimes seems like the end of the world, it has helped me weed out the clutter and realize what/who is truly important and worth spending my time on.

I’m constantly trying to focus on resilience.  I want to keep growing and creating beauty despite the challenges that I face.  I’ve found that sometimes you have to take it easy on yourself in order to push even farther toward your goals.  I think that this rule can apply to most people, whether they are facing health challenges or not.

This week, I wanted to create something light and colorful.  I’ve been missing my little garden back in Illinois, and I think this project is the next best thing.  Playing around with ganache is just as rewarding as playing in the dirt, am I right?

For this DIY dessert, I was inspired by SPOT Dessert Bar, which serves a larger potted treat garnished by a sprig of parsley, seemingly growing in the flower pot.  I decided to use edible pansy flowers instead.  Pansies are so much prettier than parsley!  I filled each mini pot with layers of ganache and streusel.

Scroll down for the recipes, and let me know how your edible garden turns out!

Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. Bring cream to a simmer on the stove.
  2. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute.
  3. Slowly whisk the chocolate and cream, starting from the center.  It will soon have a soupy consistency.  Let set, and it will become thicker like frosting.

Streusel

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 6 ounces butter
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Over low heat, melt butter in a pot over the stove.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and fully incorporate.

Assembly: Pour alternating layers of streusel and ganache into the mini flower pots.  Start with the streusel, so that the ganache doesn’t escape out of any holes on the bottom of the pot.  Garnish with an edible flower, such as a pansy.  I picked these up from Eataly.