November 29, 2011
My mom's co-worker went on a Japan trip a few weeks ago and before she left, my mom asked her to bring back some baumkuchen from Japan. Especially after the trying the Baumkuchen in Berlin (which turned out to be a disaster), I really wanted some AMAZING fresh Baumkuchen from Tokyo.
What is Baumkuchen? Baumkuchen is a traditional dessert in Europe and popular in Japan; in German, it translates to "Tree Cake" or "log cake" because of the rings in the dessert. According to the Juchheim website, in the history of Baumkuchen, a confectioner cannot earn the title of Meister (pastry chef) before mastering the baumkuchen process since the baumkuchen is the "Der Konig der Kuchen" or King of cakes.
We loved the Nenrinya brand because (1) it was close to our hotel in Ginza when we were there and (2) because we could see it freshly made in the store windows. We tried a few other brands when we were in Tokyo, but nothing measured up (maybe next time we'll try the Juchheim brand since it was the original baumkuchen place in Japan).
So my mom's co-worker found a Nenrinya store in Tokyo station and she tried it and LOVED it (so much so that she bought a ton to take back home to Canada) and we got our baumkuchen!!! You can't quite see the layers here, but this is what it looks like when you're about to bite into it. I think the Tokyo Station Baumkuchen was different than the Ginza Store Baumkuchen, according to my mom's co-worker, it's because they were made in different Prefectures. Chiba vs. Ginza? All I know is that this one was slightly more coffee flavoured than the one in Ginza...curious.
Update: My mom's coworker read the ingredients list...and apparently they make the cake with SWEET POTATO! (Yay! another use of one of my favourite vegetables!)
This is the actual ring box - or the "Straight Baumkuchen". It had an orange flavour to it and crystals of sugar on the outside. It was soft and yummy and absolutely delicious - my family ate it all in one sitting.
The inside of the box! Japanese companies put so much effort into the packaging...
The actual orange-flavoured baumkuchen ring! So soft and moist and delicious...
Lovely pictures from the Brochure from Nenrinya (of course I can't read the Japanese)
Apparently they have a green tea one (I'm not a fan of Japanese Green tea - so I stayed away).
Overall: Super YUMMY even though it was 2 day old Baumkuchen (why can't someone invent faster airplanes so that the Baumkuchen doesn't have to lose a day in freshness when it's making the trip from Tokyo to Toronto???)
Update February 10, 2012
Satsuma (Tangerine) Baumkuchen Ring on the left and a Straight Green Tea Baumkuchen
Green Tea and a slice of the Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen
I'm usually not a fan of green tea flavoured stuff - but this was good! There was definitely a matcha taste, but it wasn't overwhelming. If I had to choose between the Green Tea and the Cherry Blossom - I would definitely choose the Cherry Blossom, there wasn't really a cherry blossom taste since the flavour is so light. On the other hand, you could really taste the normal baumkuchen cake which is AMAZING. It's soft and yummy and if anything, I thought the Cherry Blossom theme was more obvious in the pink colouring than the taste.
Side note: So after our second attempt at requesting baumkuchen from my mom's coworker who visits Japan more frequently than we do, we realized that the Nenrinya Baumkuchen makes SEASONAL baumkuchen! (Shocker right?). Since it's Spring and getting closer to Cherry Blossom season, they made a Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen (logic!). Now the Sweet Potato Baumkuchen in November (which is Harvest season) makes sense!
Inside the Baumkuchen ring (and the Satsuma sugar)
Delicious! I can't praise the Baumkuchen from Nenrinya enough - this is probably my favourite food request from Japan (If you could bring back fresh sushi from Tsukiji fish market that'd probably be a favourite too).
Another update - March 30, 2012
Here we go again, this time we decided to try another Baumkuchen place and then compare Nenrinya's baumkuchen to a different place to see if it really is the best we've ever had.
The Baumkuchen store next to Nenrinya's Tokyo station store was Tokyo Banana, so we tried their signature Banana Baumkuchen:
It's great to have a different company's baumkuchen ring so we can have a basis for comparison.
Tokyo Banana: The baumkuchen was soft and moist, but in comparison to Nenrinya - it was a little more crumbly and it just wasn't as delicate in taste and texture. There was a heavy glaze on the surface of the banana baumkuchen and I felt it detracted from the layers of cake of baumkuchen. The banana flavour was great and very distinctive. It was really good but after eating it, I thought for sure that Nenrinya is definitely the better baumkuchen maker.
The Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen! Eating the full baumkuchen allows you to fully taste the cherry blossom flavour baked into it. Absolutely delicious - soft moist cake, great texture with the sugar crystals and the taste is light, sweet and fragrant with a tiny hint of coconut. It's really yummy!
In addition, the packaging and appearance of the Nenrinya baumkuchen totally trumps Tokyo Banana - so clearly they're the winners here!
February 11, 2013
The Original Baumkuchen flavour from Nenrinya
OMG is it ever good! WOW - I've really missed original Baumkuchen: I totally forgot how delicious it was just by itself. The different flavours are nice and all - but at the end of the day, this is my favourite souvenir from Japan. The outside of the round ring doesn't have sugar like the other flavours; instead, it has this moist crust-like layer of the cake that's just SOOO GOOD.