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Christmas in Japanese Culture

Yay! It's Christmas time and time before New Year! That means time of bright lights, magic, meetings, fun, and of course sweets! Which child, or even an adult, would not be happy about a sweet wonder? ;) Although Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan still many Japanese people are celebrating and they even have a traditional Christmas treat. What do you think it is? It is a real "Christmas cake"! Actually this term is absolutely always means "Sponge cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream". Easy to make, very tender, sweet but not overly, it just melts in your mouth, and this taste of strawberries with whipped cream …mmmm… can you imagine? ;) Even better then imagining just try it. So let's try to make this sweet wonder which won't leave anybody indifferent!   
Let's begin?
Today in the menu we have:


Japanese Christmas cake.
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Recipe from a show "Cooking with dog"

Ingredients

Sponge cake:
3 large eggs
100g sugar
90g pastry flour
15g unsalted butter
1 Tbs. milk

Soaking Syrup:
2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. hot water
1 Tbs. Kirsch

Topping:
400ml heavy whipping cream
3 Tbs. sugar
350-450g strawberries
confectioners sugar

Instructions

For the sponge cake:
1. Preheat an oven to 320°F (160°C)
2. Cover 7" cake pan bottom and sides with parchment paper. (The smallest one I have is 8.5" so that's what I used)
3. Boil a little bit of water in a frying pan and keep the water hot on low heat but don't let to boil.
4. Put the eggs into a heat-resistant large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer on low speed. Add sugar at once and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds. Dip the bowl into hot water and beat the mixture at high speed for 1-2 minutes. Perfect hot water temperature is 160-175°F. In this way the egg mixture won't be too hot. Put your finger in the mixture if it feels warm enough take away the bowl from the hot water.
5. Add the milk to a small bowl with unsalted butter and put it into the hot water to warm up. Continue to beat the mixture on high speed for 3-3.5 minutes until soft peaks.
6. Sift the pastry flour into the bowl. Gently mix the flour from the bottom with a rubber spatula until smooth, careful to not break the whipped foam. Pour the preheated butter mixture evenly over the batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula until smooth and glossy. Pour the batter into the cake pan at once. Gently tap the pan on a counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles in the batter. Bake until the sponge cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool. Remove the sponge cake from the pan after it has completely cooled.

For the Soaking Syrup:
7. Dissolve sugar in hot water and cool it down. Add the Kirsch to the cold syrup.

8. Select 8 (or more if your baking  pan was more than 7" / 18cm) good strawberries for decorating the top and remove the stem ends. The rest of the strawberries will go between cake layers. Remove the stem ends and cut the strawberries lengthwise into half inch slices.

For the whipped cream:
9. Put the refrigerated whipped cream in large cold bowl and add the sugar. Place the bowl in another bigger bowl with ice water. With a hand mixer whip the whipped cream until soft peaks. Don't remove the bowl with whipped cream from ice water during all the work with whipped cream.

To assemble:
10. With a long serrated knife, cut the sponge cake in half horizontally into two layers. Place one bottom layer, cut side up, on serving plate. Set aside the top layer cut side up. Soak the bottom layer evenly in syrup with a sprayer or a brush. Repeat with the top layer. Spread some of whipped cream on bottom layer of the cake. Cover the layer of cream with sliced strawberries and again spread with whipped cream on top. Strawberries should be completely covered with whipped cream. Place the top layer on top soaked side down. Apply the remnants of syrup on the very top of the sponge cake. Spread top and sides of cake with whipped cream. Decorate the cake with remnants of whipped cream using decorating bag. Squeeze the cream on top and put the whole strawberries on them. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar to create snow looks before serving. You can also put some Christmas ornaments in the middle of the cake.

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Bon Appetit!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

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