The craze for sweets in Japan is so peculiar. There's always, "This Year's #1 Dessert!" which will inevitably be forgotten about next year. Sweets like macarons and other delicate pastries are kicked up a notch or two once they enter Japan land. Its level of sophistication is nothing you will see here in the States.
The age-old jelly roll is one of "This Year's #1 Dessert!" It is super soft, and the cream inside is extra light and not so sweet. And the darling for the past few of years is the "deco" roll (as in "deco-ration" roll). You basically use the surface of the cake as a canvas -- you draw images and patterns on a silicone sheet, then pour cake batter on top. Once it's all baked, the pattern will be stuck on the cake, which creates the "deco" on the surface, like this:
How brilliant, and so Japanese, right?! I wanted to include this crazy cake in last month's cooking class as the dessert, so I practiced and tried different types of patterns. I made this roll with simple polka dots. If I added yellow food coloring to the cake batter, it would have been a Yayoi Kusama-esque cake. This was pretty easy.
Creating a simple pattern like polka dots is one thing, while images get complicated. There's a famous lady who draws intricate designs -- flowers and faces, like Steve Jobs -- on her Deco Rolls. You should definitely check out her creations, they are crazy.
For my own class, I decided to go with a leopard pattern. In order to create the pattern, I made brown and black cake batter with cocoa and edible charcoal powder. For the cake batter, I would use any genoise cake recipe.
As you can see below, first you draw the pattern or picture on a silicone surface (laid on the bottom of a cake pan), then pour batter on top and bake them together. Some recipes say to bake the pattern first for a minute or so, then pour in the cake batter, but I skipped this process.
How cute is this??
You can stuff whole bunch of interesting things inside. For this trial, I used banana with whipped cream (sweetened with condensed milk).
Or you can serve this with rhubarb strawberry sauce and strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately once you cut it into individual piece, you lose half the fun. It's always more impressive as a whole roll.
This may look complicated, but actually it's really easy (although it does require some patience). The Deco Roll opens up so many creative possibilities. Draw some white lines on silicone, and pour in brown colored batter to make a giraffe. Hello Kitty wouldn't be hard either. Similar to bento box characters, the possibilities are endless. You must look at this POTUS Roll, it's absolutely crazy.