Yutaka is launching its first-ever sweet offering later this April in the perfectly-formed shape of mochi cakes. Just the thing for spring, mochi are Japanese favourites at the ubiquitous blossom picnics held every year and also make the ideal accompaniment to Yutaka green tea. So, what is the history of these squidgy little bundles that look like kawaii characters.
What are Mochi cakes?
Mochi cakes are a traditional Japanese rice cake made from mochigome – a short-grain glutinous rice. It’s pounded in an age-old ceremony called mochisuki. It’s a long, arduous and potentially dangerous procedure involving two people – one who does the pounding of the mixture and another to rotate it.
Using a wooden mallet, the pounder beats the mochi in a mortar whilst the other person rotates the mixture by hand to keep it wet – hoping to avoid the downward trajectory of the mallet at the same time. This continues until the dough-like substance can be shaped into the small round cakes. Obviously, there are machines to do this nowadays, but the traditional method is still popular and is especially enjoyed by tourists.
Originally, the cakes were much larger and flavoured with salt, when sugar was a luxury. In the 18th century, an entrepreneurial woman started selling sweetened mochi cakes in her bakery and created a phenomenon.
The cakes are really popular at New Year, when two mocha balls are balanced in a snowman-like structure known as kagami mocha. It can be decorated elaborately or simply, most often with citrus fruit, persimmons and seaweed. In ancient times, it was believed the kagami held the spirit of rice and would ensure a prolific harvest in the coming year.
Yutaka’s Daifuku Mochi
Its popularity has meant that mochi can be found in all sorts of shapes, guises and flavours throughout Japan, from soup to ice cream. There are more than 15 varieties of the cakes alone.
Yutaka is launching three types of daifuku mochi:
- Pink Mochi
- White Mochi
- Yomogi Mochi – flavoured with the Japanese Mugwort herb & green in colour
The centre of the cakes are filled with a sweet, red bean paste to provide a tasty treat that’s also meant to bring you luck.
The frozen cakes are available from end April in single packs of 95g and will have a RRP of £1.50 – £2.00 each. We’ll update you about where to buy them so you can have your very own mochi party.