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Hey there, you may be wondering where I disappeared on Portfolio of Patisserie for the past three months. Where have I been? I have been failing.

I’m not a professional baker, I’ve not been to culinary school and I certainly have no gift in fine cuisine. I just love exploring new ideas in cake, cookies and sweets. So it’s been incredibly frustrating to be failing every single time. I will post my failures but by the time I bake, decorate and photograph the cake to realize that the taste/texture of the recipe is a little off, I can’t seem to muster enough energy to blog about it. Anyway, here goes:

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Fail 1: Sakura and Green Tea Castella Cake




I bought a box of sakura home from Tsujuki market in Japan but ended up having to throw most of it away because it was startng to rot. This was a failure in part because I was too impatient with the frosting (I don’t even recall what kind it is.. buttercream?) and I should have let it cool down first before frosting a rather overly most and sticky castella cake. I got tired of circles and opted for pyramid forms. Most of all, I wanted to play with color. Punches of pink against cool white with a tranquil green center surprise.

I purchased gold leaf in Japan for an insanely good price:



It’s really funny: when I was in Japan, I asked a salesgirl how to apply gold leaf. Do I need to invest in a tweezer? Her reply: use chopsticks.

Asia for the win.

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Fail 2: Matcha Cheesecake

Laura and I fell in love with the aesthetically pleasing outcome of this cake. I seriously think this recipe, which came from a Japanese cooking site (Laura translated) needs a lot of tweaking but it tasted extremely sour due to heavy amounts of yogurt and sour cream. But the texture and color of the cake is impeccable. As you can see, I added the lace print border around the cake that I got from the Jusco $10 store and it’s the perfect height! The cake knife is also from there too- thought it would look nicer than a fruit knife.

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Fail 3: Matcha Cheesecake (Round 2)

Not soon after Laura left back for Japan, I tweaked the entire cheesecake recipe to contain less sour cream and yogurt and more cream cheese. Anyhow it was better but still not to my expectations. Also the hue changed from emerald green to a duller shade with a brown tinge around the side. The ‘polka dots’ was just an extra touch to my third failure.

Anyway that’s all I can contribute for today. I’ll try to find some time to blog about my long ago birthday (the dessert part!) and Agnes’ birthday cake which was… a semi fail as well. T-T Help! I need a breakthrough!

One of my favourite things about baking in this kitchen is when I can sit in front of the oven with a friend, talking or simply reading magazines while we wait for chemistry to prevail. I can just stretch out my legs and lean my back against the cupboards. It’s so comforting.

Laura and I back in March, reading Japanese baking books and ViVi magazine.

Hahah this picture was seriously too perfect because it pretty much sums up Nara. First it was three rickshaws on the Philosopher’s Path, now it’s three deer.



First and foremost, thank God for Google translate. I couldn’t find the address anywhere in English so I translated this Japanese sweet store’s homepage until I found it after clicking around the site aimlessly! Whoohoo… go Google translate!





Been distracted by other things that as you can see I am doing quite a poor job finishing this collection of posts. My posts are building up so I’m gonna stop talking so much and let the photos speak for themselves. Life goes on. 😛

Anyway we took a day trip to Nara land of the (lazy, fat) deer. You can feed deer at the park and I was imagining cute Bambis frolicking on the plains. Sadly there were a lot of scruffy, dirty deer that knew how cute they were and how willing tourists would be to walk up to them without having to get up to get a biscuit or two. Seriously they would not even wander outside of the grass to eat as you can see the from deer craning its neck to get food from Agnes.

We have a knack at finding out exactly where the sweet shops are without any recommendations or maps. Or maybe they just find us. Or maybe Japan is just full of the good stuff.

Tenpyoan is also located in Tokyo and peddles a collection of both traditional Japanese sweets and some with a modern twist. If you visit, you HAVE to try their ice cream which comes in flavors like ‘soy bean flour and brown sugar’ or ‘sweet potato’. We got the ‘mikasa’ (aka dorayaki) ice cream which is mashed up dorayaki mixed in with the cream. Agnes got the chestnut and although I’m not a fan of Mont Blanc THIS WAS AMAZING.

But I think the one item that bowled me over was the green tea cake with a layer of white chocolate cream. I don’t think words can describe the flavour and textural harmony that this cake has in your mouth. The cream is slightly crunchy almost as if like ice cream but not cold while the soft layers of cake are moist and bitter with the matcha inside. We ended up getting another each for the ride home. I would die to get this recipe especially the layer of cream.

http://www.tenpyoan.com/

Off we go from Tokyo on a six hour red eye bus to Kyoto, and for some (laura) to go from sakura chasing to matcha overdrive.
This is the bus we took- kinda hilarious.

Above is the #1 spot to see cherry blossoms which we dubbed the ‘devil tree’. I don’t understand how this even made it to the top ten. The ravens perched on its crooked branches just adds to the Halloween-ness. Okay I’ll stop talking about the pink stuff, on to the green stuff!!!



I would like to introduce you all to my favourite green tea snack/dessert/baked good. It’s only available in Kyoto at department stores such as Daimaru and Takashimaya (although I did spot the store’s cafe at Kyoto Station when I was taking a bus back to Tokyo). The store is called Malebranche and is responsible for this delectable cookie which is composed of two wafer thin biscuits loaded with bitter matcha (they call it ‘OKOICHA langue de chat’)with a slick layer of white chocolate in between. A collaboration between three connoisseurs of tea (Kakuji Kojima), appraiser (Haruhide Morita) and patissier (Yasuhiko Ezaki) gave birth to CHA no KA and one of the reasons why I would trek back to Kyoto. There are three different characters sealed on the surface of the biscuits, I guess, a different signature for each of the collaborators.

Last time my biggest regret was only getting myself a bag of five and a box of ten for relatives (it was sold out in Daimaru this time around! It’s ALWAYS sold out at Daimaru). This time around I purchased a box of 16 for myself, one for my cousin, a box of 10 for other relatives and a bag of 5 for colleagues. I know it was quite selfish but you have to take a look at the packaging which punch suckered me into getting myself a 16-piece box:

Mine all mine…


We were wandering the streets and was SUPPOSED to head to this other matcha sundae place when we got sidetracked by the look of this one (sorry, Laura, next time!). Oku Gallery and Cafe is discreet in its appearance from the outside, resembling a typical house there with only a yellow to pink overhang at the door and a lightbox sign:

Very narrow lobby with their china for sale made by local artist Shojiro Endo:

I really love the first floor dining area where the back wall is sliced in half to let in natural light and to allow customers to enjoy the beautiful mini garden. Lo and behold the interiors of Oku resembles a streamlined, modern cafe of the present. It reminds me of NYC’s MOMA cafeteria and St Mark’s Cha An rolled into one. We had to sit upstairs which was equally as nice with high ceilings and a view of the street:

Oku predominantly serves numerous tea sets that like the architecture/interior, reflects a blend of modern and traditional sweets. The roll comes with traditional Japanese jelly (ok I am in no way an expert on Asian desserts so I won’t hazard a guess). We ended up getting a cheesecake set, a matcha sundae set and a roll cake set. Everything was beautifully presented. I was a little hesitant about the cheesecake at first because the texture in the menu looked dry and crumbly however it yielded a soft, creaminess and definitely was my favourite (not a fan of Azuki or mochi as much). Definitely order a glass of apple juice- it’s delightfully refreshing:


One  of these doesn’t belong….

Nakamura Tokichi is known for seasoning its food, drinks and desserts with green tea. We never got to go to the original cafe however we stopped by a Nakamura stand every night for matcha ice cream prior to taking the train back to Moriyama. Amazing ice cream and if I were to go again, I’d get the hojicha like Agnes!

We also stopped by Lipton’s to get some green tea cake to go….

Many many many thanks to Yuri, our host in Kyoto. I would love to post up pictures of your adorable apartment but that might be a little creepy so I’ll just say to everyone: Yuri has the cutest apartment ever which feels like home! Man there’s such a big difference when you stay in a hotel versus a real home. Everything feels more personal and therefore more warm and inviting. Somehow sleep is better.

Ok so some of the photos aren’t showing again when I preview this page.. I want to kill myself then again trying to upload 35 photos into one entry must be killing WordPress. I can’t be bothered to tweak it now.

http://www.tokichi.jp/english/about/index.php

http://oku-style.com/