Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bake Shop St Moritz

Bake Shop St Moritz, on the street leading from Azabu Juban Station toward the back of Roppongi Hills, is a quirky Euro-Japanese bakery that's not quite like anywhere else. As you would expect from the name, there are plenty of treats with central-European lineage, such as a babka-like chocolate-swirled sweet bread, apple kuchen filled with spiced fruit, and ring-shaped, sugar-covered lemon cakes. But they also have the full range of weird Japanese baked goods: "Siberia" cake (two layers of pound cake with an equally thick layer of red bean paste in between), soft cream-filled buns, and the sweet known as "Sweet Potato" (the English words, pronounced sui-toh po-teh-toh) which is a finger-shaped cake made of golden Japanese sweet potatoes. They also have sandwiches made of white bread and various fillings: egg salad, fish roe, pork cutlet, curry, whipped cream with fruit... the usual.
The shelves are often nearly bare by late afternoon - to see everything they make, you have to go early. I visited around ten in the morning on a recent weekend, and the shelves were still packed and stacked. The bakery itself is in a back room, and each individual item is wrapped in homey plastic wrap, just as if your mom had made it. The only two ladies I've ever seen behind the counter are both gray-haired, motherly types. Note that there are boxes of cookies on the counter by the cash register, which you might not see until it's too late. I've never actually tried them, but it would be interesting to see how they treat the occasional American-style treat they offer. Besides the cookies, they also have the Japanese interpretation of muffins - a little cylindrical cake baked in a scallop-edged wrapper that stands straight up and isn't pleated, so that they don't really have a traditional muffin shape at all. You can see some on the left in the picture above.

This is what I almost always do get: earl grey flavored chiffon cake sandwiched around a filling of cream whipped so thickly it's practically butter. This is on my list of things I must learn how to make so I'll still have it when I eventually leave Japan. The top and bottom edges of the cake are almost caramelized and just barely crisp, but the inside is like a velvet sponge, without the slightest crumbliness. The tea flavor isn't very obvious, but it does give it a dimension beyond just sweet. But the main think I like about this cake is the texture - the thickness of the cream and the bouncy pillowiness of the cake.

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