Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yuzu Blueberry Poundcake

I know almost nothing about Japanese desserts, except that I've had green tea ice cream. And I have no clue if that's even traditional. So I was really interested in seeing what the new cookbook, Kyotofu, might have to offer.

The book is divided based on the Japanese ingredient included in each of the recipes - soy, miso, green tea, sesame, rice, and yuzu.

I have no clue how traditional any of the recipes are, but I have a suspicion that some are more traditionally American with a Japanese twist - like the chocolate chunk cookies that included some kinako, which is a flour made from toasted soybeans.

After browsing around the book for a while, I decided to make a recipe using an ingredient I happened to have, rather than investing time into finding something else. I could have made a green tea recipe, since I'm well-stocked with both tea and matcha.

But then I saw the poundcake. The description said it was light and gently sweet, and the photo showed a cake cut in a wedge from a round cake rather than a normal loaf cake as you'd expect with an American pound cake.

But then when I read the recipe, it called for a 9x5 loaf pan. What?

This is a particular pet peeve of mine - when photos in a book don't represent what the recipe instructions say. But I carried on, anyway, because I liked the ingredients in the recipe.

I ended up with a sort of squat cake - it might have been better in a smaller loaf pan (8x4) or in an 8-inch round pan, as might have been used for the photo.

This also took a lot longer to bake than the recipe called for. At first, I thought it might have been the difference between the loaf pan and what was depicted in the photo. But then I realized that the book said to use either fresh or frozen berries, but didn't suggest thawing the berries (which would have made the batter purple/blue) or increasing the baking time for the cake.

In the end it was a good cake, flavor-wise. Next time I might make it in a round pan or as cupcakes, and for sure I'll try it with fresh berries. A far as the yuzu juice, I had it on hand, so it went into the batter. But if you don't have it, I'd suggest simply using lemon juice - it's only a tablespoon, so I doubt at that quantity no one would be able to tell the difference between lemon and yuzu in the cake.

As far as the rest of the book, I was curious whether the mismatched photo was a one-time error, or of other photos were also more creative than realistic. I found a few more, including a recipe that was supposed to be made in muffin tins and unmolded that was shown in a glass, a tart recipe that was shown as individual tarts rather than one large one described in the recipe, cookies that were supposed to be cut with a round cutter rather than the scalloped rectangular cutter used for the cookies in the photo, and a round cheesecake that was depicted as being cut into a square.

Okay, with that last one, you could take a round cheesecake and cut it into small squares to serve it - but why would you?

I didn't scrutinize every photo to nitpick details - but those were the obvious ones that caught my eye.
These photo mismatches aren't a total dealbreaker for enjoying the book, since the recipes themselves look solid. But I do wish that instructions were given - even as an option - for making the recipes as they were shown in the photos. If it's just a matter of cutting something (like the cookies), it's really no big deal. But if it's a matter of baking mini tarts instead of a large one, or a round cake instead of a loaf - well, that makes a difference with baking time.

The photos are indeed pretty, and the recipes sound interesting. I plan on making a few more using some of the ingredients that are new to me. And I'm looking forward to that, as soon as I can hunt those ingredients down.

Meanwhile, have a piece of cake.

Yuzu Blueberry Pound Cake
Adapted from Kyotofu by Nicole Bermensolo

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest (from one lemon)
1 tablespoon yuzu juice (lemon juice would be fine)
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.

While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest.

Add the yuzu juice, sour cream, and vegetable oil and continue mixing until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix until just combined, scraping down the stand mixer bowl to make sure everything is evenly mixed.

Gently mix in the blueberries by hand.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean - it actually took mine over an hour to finish baking - that might be because I used frozen berries and they were chilly when they were in the batter. Consider that, if you make this.