Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The Daily Yamazaki company (from which this blog gleefully and illegally has stolen its name) really doesn't make very good baked goods. Jumping on to the corporate food bandwagon in the immediate post-war period, they, like Wonder and Langendorf in the USA cornered the market on cheap generic bread products (shokupan and various cakes and sweet breads). As tastes changed over the years and desire for better baked goods claimed the market, their flagship bakery outlets lost even their middle-class glamour and the handful that one can find around Tokyo are best left passed by. Like all good megacorporations, the company has expanded into other areas, and they are even trying to compete against much better chain bakeries with their Vie de France outlets - probably the worst of the semi-French bakeries in Japan.

But their products do show up packaged upon shelves throughout the nation. And one in particular has become a bit of guilty pleasure for me.

The Hokkaido Steamed Cheesecake (北海道チーズ蒸しケーキ) is one of the most beguiling and strange things that pass for normal here. In truth, it's not really that good, but like a bad habit, I crave it.

Here's what it is. The most perplexing sponge cake. It tends to shear when broken or bitten in to. How do they do that? The "branded" reverse outline of Hokkaido on the top has a vaguely cheesy edge to it. Slightly funky. The steaming of the dough tends to make it a bit dense, but not quite as dense as cheesecake as we know it. Yet not quite fluffy. Oh, and it's sweet and filled with calories.

Research has come up goose eggs on whether this is a real variation of something traditionally made in Hokkaido or something made up in the laboratories of Daily Yamazaki in those heady years immediately after the war, when the US was flooding Japan with government cheese, flour and sugar. In my imagination, a certain Japanese ingenuity with the products at hand created this monster that can still be frightening and a friend of children after all these years.


siti the twins said...

hi... i am Siti... i'm from Malaysia.... now i'm following your blogs and i like your post...
this is because you post everything about Japanese stuff... you know what?? Japan is my most favorable country in this world..
now i am taking Diploma in tourism management(which mean i got the chance to learn in Japanese...)
my lecture which known as Ms. Akiko.K is teaching us....hope that i won't bother you and hope you can follow my blogs...
this is my blog..: http://sararapicnic.blogspot.com

Johntaro said...

I too have a strong weakness for this tasty morsel and I believe your theory about its post-war origins could be true. I also believe that if you put one of these cakes in the freezer for a few hours and eat it while it's still frozen it almost tastes like a real N.Y. cheesecake.

Faz said...

I tried the Milk Steamed Cake and Chocolate Chip Cake while in Hong Kong. I wish I could import them to Malaysia. Sigh.

Now I'm eating a 2 day expired Milk Steamed Cake that I have left.