17 May 17 The Raindrop Cake arrives!
A calorie-free, vegan ‘raindrop cake’ is taking London by storm. The new cult pudding looks like a breast implant, wobbling on a wooden plank.
Beside it sits the black goo from the Alien prequel ‘Prometheus’ and some smashed-up powder foundation. But don’t let appearance put you off. This is actually a Japanese delicacy known as “a raindrop cake” (it’s made in the shape of a water droplet) and it’s about to arrive in London for the first time.
I am one of the first to try this new pudding at Yamagoya, a ramen pop-up above Shuang Shuang on Shaftesbury Avenue. The restaurant will make just 20 a day, starting next week.
The translucent cake — inspired by a water jelly that in Japan is called mizu shingen mochi — tastes of little itself but takes up the flavour of the thick, sticky, ultra-sweet molasses syrup (kuromitsu) and the roasted soybean powder (kinako) that accompany it — flavours which are released as it dissolves in the mouth.
On the board, it holds its structure as you tuck in, although it is an ephemeral confection — it only remains solid for about half an hour after serving. The over-riding temptation is to play with it, making it jiggle.
“The cake is obviously quite a spectacle and piques people’s interest,” says Fah Sundravorakul, the co-founder of Yamagoya, who moved from Bangkok to London three years ago and whose family have been in the restaurant business for more than 50 years.
“That’s why we wanted to put it on the menu — and to challenge perceptions of what a dessert should be. I think it’s a perfect to end a ramen meal. It’s a balancing act between clarity and texture.”
The cake is a palate-cleanser, vegan and calorie-free (though that doesn’t apply to the syrup or soybean). It is the lightest possible pudding.
Created in Japan in 2014, the cakes have garnered a cult following there among young, fashionable foodies. Now the fad is starting to spread. In New York they’ve become a hit at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg market, while on Instagram you find not just the clear cakes served on leaf trays but jewel-coloured versions and even ones with fruit and flowers inside.
Making it was a labour of love. “I’ve been playing around with the raindrop cake for a while,” says Sundravorakul. “I experimented at home for about a year but we’ve been really focusing on the cake at Yamagoya for the past four months to try to get all the elements right.”
There’s no gelatin in Sundravorakul’s version — simply water and agar, a jelly-like substance obtained from algae.
The cakes are made in moulds and turned out onto the boards. Every cake is perfected by hand. The painstaking part is making the mixture entirely clear.
“It is made from carefully sourced spring water and special agar that we import from Japan,” he explains. “To get that clarity is a delicate process. It’s a combination of carefully and gently controlling the heat and time as the cake must be completely clear and have a good wobble to it.”
When it goes wrong the cake comes out looking milky. Sundravorakul tried every agar available in the UK before deciding none would work. “Even that was quite a challenge as well — not all of the agar from Japan gave us the clarity we wanted.”
Source: Evening Standard
How to make a Raindrop cake… this video has over 6 million views!