My childhood may not be the world’s happiest. But every so often, I still can’t help but to yearn for those innocent days bygone.
Lately, the pang of nostalgia has grappled a good part of me even more. It must have been the painful struggles this transitional phase has put me into. It feels as if I’m
standing stranded at a major crossroads, not knowing where I’m heading for. Really.
Which may explain my recent regression. At times, I’d daydream about watching Doraemon with my brothers — and munching on dorayakis, Doraemon’s favorite snack. If only I could get transported back in time … back to those carefree days of mine …
|Doraemon (Image courtesy of 見たmorphosis)|
I’m never a follower of manga and anime. I did grow up with Doraemon, though. In the hearts of many East Asians and Southeast Asians, Doraemon equates omnipotence. It’s a robotic cat that’s blue and white in color, that does just about any magic tricks imaginable. I kid you not.
Doraemon has this four-dimensional pocket clung to his big, round belly. For some obscure reason, I used to get the jitters whenever Doraemon placed its chubby, sphere-like fist into this pocket of marvels. Seated quietly before the TV set, little Pei-Lin would wonder, “Hmmm … What’s it going to be this time around?”
Hidden within this pocket of wonders, there’s the “Anywhere Door,” a door that opens up to anywhere you want; the “Time Machine,” a contraption that teleports you to the past and the future in the speed of light (duh!); the “bamboo-copter,” a mini head accessory with which you mount over your head and voila! — you can “fly” to just about anywhere you want … I guess I can rattle on … or maybe I shouldn’t. OK, let’s move on …
A robotic cat of virtues, Doraemon wields its fancy, powerful weapons only when necessary and oftentimes, with morally sound judgment. Nonetheless, evil still prevails — when you entice Doraemon with a heaped plateful of dorayakis. Is this good or bad?
|Joy, to Doraemon, equates a heaped plateful of dorayakis! On the left is Masahiko Kōmura, former Japanese foreign minister. (Image courtesy of the Guardian)|
What I’m positive about, though, is that “chewiness,” “springiness” and the like ought to be slashed out from any lines that attempt to describe the texture of the dorayaki; and that gluten formation ought to be inhibited, to the best that you can, from the dorayaki batter.
The base of this classic Japanese confection (wagashi 和菓子) is fundamentally kasutera, or honey-flavored Japanese sponge cake. Imagine pan-frying the kasutera batter on a skillet rather than baking it in a cake pan. So, it’s got to be cakey, nothing hotcake-like. Well, at least that’s what I think.
|On the left, matcha dorayakis filled with anko; on the right, pudding dorayakis with fresh blueberries|
Perhaps, it was love at sight, with a little bit of logic thrown in for good measure. There are pages of dorayaki recipes circulating on the World Wide Web, but I’m partial to none of those except this. (Now, scroll down to learn more …)
Through both deductive and inductive reasoning, I concluded that everything about this recipe coheres with the Kasutera Tenet. Some of the ingredients called for, such as mirin (味醂) and shōyu (醤油), are Japanese. The methods, albeit déjà vu of chiffon making, could have produced a moist-sponge-cake-like mouthfeel — sans déjà vu of chewing on maple-syrup-and-butter-drenched hotcakes.
As for the filling, go explore beyond the norms! Besides the good ol’ anko, you’ll probably be enchanted by the gentle touch of honey sweetness of la crème pâtissière au miel. For a balance in sweetness and tartness? Sandwich with some fresh blueberries, strawberries, cubed mangoes or any other fruit of your choice!
|At the late-November bloggers' meet-up: Wendy's youngest daughter Lyanne seems to enjoy the honey pastry cream more than she does for the kasutera pancakes! *LOL*|
Uh oh … It sounds like I’ve just melded the Japanese with the French. I know these pudding dorayakis are not-so-Japanese, but Doraemon-san, I hope you don’t mind. Would you still like to help yourself to a plateful of these? They’re just as delectable.
Pudding Dorayaki (プリンどら焼き)
Adapted from SeaDragon’s
For the kasutera pancakes:
240 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
170 mL whole milk
60 g good-quality honey
* I use manuka honey, which comes with an intense and a unique flavor of its own. Albeit expensive, it’s highly recommended for its superior quality. I wouldn’t pay for a cheap bottle of honey that, to me, tastes like plain syrup. As the saying goes, “Quality comes with a price.” *
4 egg yolks — at room temperature
40 mL neutrally flavored oil e.g. vegetable, sunflower or canola oil
2 tsp mirin / shōyu
* Compared to those made with mirin, those with shōyu will color up more nicely and taste a tad different. I’ve made the confection with both, and like them all. My brother actually prefers those with shōyu. *
4 egg whites — at room temperature
110 g caster sugar
Enough chilled honey pastry cream AND/OR anko
Any choice fruit e.g. fresh blueberries, blackberries or cubed fresh mangoes — optional and used only when you choose to fill the dorayakis with honey pastry cream because I doubt they’d complement anko well
- Whisk together (A) and sift once; set aside. Dissolve together (B); set aside.
- Whisk together (C), then fold in (A) and (B) mixtures alternately until well combined. Set aside.
- Whip the egg whites till soft peaks form, then gradually beat in 110 g caster sugar till stiff peaks form. This is meringue.
- Gently fold the meringue into the yolk mixture, in two to three batches.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Next, dip a sheet of paper towel in a little cooking oil and wipe all over the surface of the hot skillet. This step helps to prevent the pancakes from sticking and needs to do be done only once, which is right before you start cooking.
- Now, I use a Chinese soup spoon for this: For one palm-sized pancake, ladle 1½~2 tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot skillet. Cook over low to medium heat until it looks bubbly and starts to dry on the surface. Using a flat spatula, gently flip over the pancake. The bottom of the pancake may cling to the skillet slightly, i.e. behaving stubbornly. So, use a flat spatula to carefully release it from the skillet first before flipping it. Cook the other side of the pancake briefly until golden brown. Carefully dish it out to a wire rack or plate to cool thoroughly before filling. Repeat until the batter is used up.
- To serve, sandwich two pieces of the kasutera pancake with some honey pastry cream and fresh fruit of your choice. The fruit is optional, though. Alternatively, you can fill the pancakes with anko.
For matcha kasutera pancakes, before mixing in 60 g honey, gradually whisk 170 mL whole milk in 2~3 batches into 2~3 tsp matcha powder, which helps to ensure a thorough combination.
For the honey pastry cream:
60 mL whole milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
35 g caster sugar — or adjust to taste
* I use 25 g. *
30 g good-quality honey
* Again, I use manuka honey, which comes with an intense and a unique flavor of its own. Albeit expensive, it’s highly recommended for its superior quality. I wouldn’t pay for a cheap bottle of honey that to me, tastes like plain syrup. As the saying goes, “Quality comes with a price.” *
10 g all-purpose flour
10 g custard powder or cornstarch
Pinch of salt
190 mL whole milk
25 g unsalted butter — cubed and at room temperature
- Whisk together (D), then mix in (E). Set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring 190 mL milk just to a boil. Then, temper into the egg mixture by gradually pouring the hot milk in a thin stream into the egg mixture, keep whisking the egg mixture as you pour lest the eggs “scramble.” Return the mixture to the saucepan.
- Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture vigorously and constantly till it’s thickened and firmed up. Remove from heat and keep whisking till it’s cooled to room temperature. Fold in the butter till fully incorporated. Cover the pastry cream with a sheet of cling film coming into contact with its surface, which prevents a film of “skin” from forming on the cream. Keep refrigerated till ready to use.
|From exactly 2 years ago, made when I was still in the States, using home-made anko. Good recipes are always worth turning back to, including this very dorayaki recipe shown above.|