Friday, November 4, 2011

Christmas cake in Japan (part 1)

British style Christmas cake (c) jystewart
Although November might seem a bit early to many people to be thinking about Christmas cake, it's actually a little on the late side when you're talking about real homemade, heavy, fruity English Christmas cake. And well, the first festive jingles are already starting to be played in Tokyo Starbucks..

Christmas cake in Japan is usually eaten on Christmas Eve and is a lighter, fluffier affair - a vanilla sponge 'shortcake' filled and covered with whipped cream and topped with strawberries, looking like something Father Christmas might wear. It's lovely, and so popular that you can order yours from any convenience store, or make it at home thanks to the out of season abundance of show-stopping strawberries specifically grown for the purpose appearing in supermarkets from December.
Japanese style strawberry shortcake (c) Tomomarusan

Strawberry shortcake is all well and good, but it doesn't fit the bill traditionally speaking - not the tradition I grew up in anyway, and it feels more like a summer cake, a bit out of place on a cold winter day. There must be shops that do traditional English style boozy Christmas fruitcakes, but I fancied having a go at making my own. I have heard that the home made versions are hard to beat, fed on brandy for weeks leading up to Christmas, then lovingly tucked up in marzipan (also home made - have you found any pre-made blocks in Tokyo..?), slathered with real royal icing (no 'ready-roll' fondant for this cake!), and decorated I'm not yet sure how.

It'll be a first for me, and I don't know how it will turn out, but for those who are interested in trying for themselves, I'll follow up in the next post with how I did it and where I got the ingredients and accouterments.

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