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Sunday, May 2, 2010
Something wierd happened when I was traveling to Korea and Japan for business 2 weeks ago. It was mid April, early spring weather that ought to be warm enough for the Sakura (cherry blossoms) to start blossoming in full glory. On the day I was supposed to touch down in Korea, it started snowing in the morning and temperature dipped to 5C when it really ought to be in the 15-20C range. Luckily when I touched down in the evening, weather had become quite normal. My trench coat was enough to keep me warm. Then 3 days later, when I was supposed to move from Seoul to Tokyo, I saw with dismay that it too started to snow in Tokyo - the latest snow in history, according to NHK news. The weather fairy must have been exceptionally partial towards me on that trip for by the time I touched down at Narita that afternoon, blue skies and temperate weather greeted me.
The Sakura was blossoming in full force when I was in Korea. I was at a reknowned reserach institute to do a technical discussion and the whole campus was bathed in the powdery pink softness of the blossoms. Utterly breath taking. Unfortunately by this time, Tokyo has already seen its Sakura blossom season come and go. However, the celebratory mood for the arrival of spring is still very evident. Food, pastries and fashion items with sakura motifs are prevalent.
During my trip to the fine baking supplies store Cuoca, I picked up a new sakura cookie cutter, sakura extract and Sakura flakes. While searching for a recipe to play with my 'new toys', I had really wanted to make something that is healthier - to experiment with something along the macrobiotic line - after I had spent 2 hours in a bookshop in Tokyo poring over their collection of macrobiotic recipes. I found my recipe reference eventually in my trusted Okashi Cookbook by Keiko Ishida. She had published an eggless green tea cookie recipe based on unbleached flour and ground almonds. Instead of sugar, brown rice syrup and maple syrup were used. Grapeseed oil replaced butter. I tweaked the recipe for my Sakura Cookies.
The end results is a subtly fragranced cookie with a slight saltiness from the Sakura flakes (the sakura flowers are usually salted in Japan for food garnish). The cookie has a firm snappy texture which I was a little unused to. When one has always been striving for the melt-in-the mouth texture in cookies, this cookie started me wondering if this is the way dog biscuits taste. It took a few more cookies for me to get used to the firm snap but I really don't mind to keep a bunch of these around for healthy munching.
Unbleached plian flour 100g
Baking powder pinch
Ground almonds 50g
Brown Rice Syrup 15g
Maple Syrup 45g
Sea Salt pinch
Grapeseed Oil 25g
Sakura Extract 10 drops
Sakura Flakes for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 150C.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and ground almonds and chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
3. Combine brown rice syrup, maple syrup, sea salt,extract and grapeseed oil in a bowl and mix well. Add the chilled flour and fold in with a spatula, then rub dough quickly with your fingers until crumbly.
4. Roll out to 5mm thickness and chill in the fridge before cutting.
5. Cut cookies with cookie cutter and garnish with Sakura flakes.
6. Bake at 150C for 15mins or until firm. Remove from heat and cool on a wire rack.