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Quick, look at this and tell me what you think of:

Taiyaki on a plate

I expect you didn’t think ‘ah, it’s a delicious, sweet Japanese street food’, did you? If you did, congratulations! Read on for a recipe to make your very own at home! If you didn’t, then let me educate you – read on for a recipe to make your very own at home! (See what I did there?)

The best way to describe taiyaki is as waffle-type confections which are usually filled with a Japanese sweet called ‘anko’. Anko, or an, is made from aduki beans, which you can purchase in most major supermarkets, as they’re actually a health food. Not when you cook them Japanese style, of course, which basically means stewing them with plenty of sugar.

DSC_0268

In Japan, these are cooked in dedicated stalls, and although an is the most common filling, you can even get savoury versions with things like cheese inside. At home, in a western kitchen, your biggest hurdle to making these yourself will be buying a proper taiyaki press.

Taiyaki step 1

I got mine from J-List, and if you look on the left hand side of this site and scroll down, you can find my affiliate link to J-List which means you can support Distracted Gourmet at the same time as making yummy treats. You might also be able to find these in Oriental or Japanese supermarkets.

Taiyaki ingredients

Apart from the an, the ingredients for taiyaki are very easy to find, and you probably have most of them already.You simply mix your batter together (recipe below), and then grease up your taiyaki press. Then, ladle in your batter, and spoon in some an, and place on your hob.

Taiyaki step 2

Then, you cover the an with a bit more batter, so that you create a nice, sealed pocket for your filling.

Taiyaki step 3

Once you’ve done that, you close the press and turn it over the heat, keeping it firmly closed, until the batter is cooked and your fish takes on a lovely golden colour.

Then, you simply have to trim the excess batter from your fish, and serve it piping hot!

Taiyaki step 4

Try your own taiyaki today!

Ingredients

125g plain flour

½ tbsp baking powder

½ tbsp caster sugar

½ tsp salt

225ml milk

1 egg

1 tbsp vegetable oil

6 tbsp anko paste

Method

Begin by oiling your taiyaki press thoroughly – you don’t want anything to stick.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Add the sugar and mix.

Beat the egg in a jug, and then add in the milk and oil.

Add the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.

Put the taiyaki pan over the heat and allow to get as hot as possible for a couple of minutes. Once the pan is hot, recheck that it’s well oiled, and then spoon in some of the batter. Allow to set for a few seconds, and then add a small spoonful of the anko paste (or other filling) in the main body section of the fish. Pour on a little more batter over the top of the anko paste to cover, and close down the press immediately and allow to cook. Turn over the heat and cook until the taiyaki is golden brown on both sides. You may need to hold the handles together to ensure the taiyaki pan doesn’t open, as the batter will expand as it cooks.

Once it’s cooked, eat it hot!

Also, try other fillings – sweet cream, Nutella, Smudge, peanut butter, cheese or even stir-fried vegetables!

If you want to try before you purchase pricey specialist equipment, I’ve seen these on sale in The Japan Centre in London – their supermarket is well worth a visit, whether you’re there to nosh taiyaki or not!
Taiyaki

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Yesterday, I dangled the promise of a delicious recipe in front of you, and I’m not about to go back on my word! Whilst I’m not claiming that my idea to swap buttercream with real cream on a butterfly cake is really revolutionary, I have to say it makes a huge difference to these cakes. Okay, they won’t keep as long and they’re not as immune to standing around for hours (days?) not being eaten, as with traditional butterfly cakes (like the one below), but to me, they are a million times nicer, and a special treat of epic proportions. Just right, in other words, for serving at your royal wedding watching party!

Old fashioned butterfly cake

This is hardly a ground breaking recipe, but I personally had a hard time trying to sort through the many recipes for butterfly cakes I found online for a good one. There were some interesting variations but not a lot of simple, good old fashioned recipes. So, rest assured that if you want to make plain, no-nonsense butterfly cakes, the sponge recipe below, from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, will do you right. Then, you only have to follow the directions for the dulce de leche buttercream and omit the dulce de leche, and you’ll have butterfly cakes the old fashioned way in no time.

But life is short, why not try yours with sweet vanilla cream?!

Butterfly cake

Ingredients

For plain sponge cakes:

125g softened butter

125g caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

125g self-raising flour

2-3 tbsp milk

Icing sugar, for dusting

For the sweet cream and dulce de leche topping:

Small tub of double cream

1 tbsp (or to taste) vanilla caster sugar

Tin of Nestle Carnation dulce de leche

For alternative dulce de leche buttercream

125g butter

125g icing sugar

2 tbsp dulce de leche

Method

Preheat oven to 200c or gas mark 6.

Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Mix the eggs in one by one, adding a large spoonful of flour in between each addition.

When mixed, add the rest of the flour, then mix to a smooth dropping consistency using the milk.

(Alternatively, if you’re one of these super duper posh types what has a fangled machine, simply add all the ingredients except the milk to a processor or food mixer until blended, then add the milk until it reaches the correct consistency. I’m not bitter or jealous at all, honest.)

Line a 12-bun cake tin with cake cases, and pour in the mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

While the cakes are cooling, you can make your sweet vanilla cream! Simply add vanilla sugar (or sugar and a hint of vanilla extract) to your double cream, and whisk until it forms soft peaks. You need it to hold its shape when you spoon it onto your cakes, but be careful you don’t overwhisk – I am the worst at over-enthusiastically churning my cream into a grainy mess, so I can talk…

Once you’ve created your sweet cream, you only have to wait for the cakes to cool before assembling.

To make a butterfly cake, simply cut a round circle in your cake, tipping the knife inwards so you form a circular well inside as you do so. Fill to the top with your dulce de leche. Then, finish with a swirl of sweet cream – you can make a jaunty tip simply by using the end of your spoon and lifting off in the middle. Then, cut the piece of cake you excised in half and turn those pieces into the wings of a butterfly, and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Here’s what those beauties will look like inside:

Inside butterfly cake

An additional thought – if you reckon dulce de leche is too forrun for a patriotic national celebration such as the wedding of Kate and William, why not turn it into a tribute to a classic Victoria sponge by adding a spoonful of jam to the middle instead of caramel?

My tip for these is that the cream should be still chilled when the guests eat (why? Because it’s DELICIOUS that way, try it!), and that they really should be assembled last minute, just because the cream will wilt and spoil if you leave them sitting around for too long.

But, if you want to make your classic butterfly cakes with buttercream, simply cream your sieved icing sugar and very soft butter together until the mix is creamy and white, then add in dulce de leche until you have a still-stiff yet caramelly topping. Finish as above to make your butterfly wings.

Just one thing though…

Old fashioned butterfly cake

Don’t forget your icing sugar!

Old fashioned butterfly cake top

It is absolutely vital for optimum uh, prettiness…

Also, patriotic napkins are optional. (I got mine from Tesco’s.)

Butterfly cake on Union Jack napkin