Soft, springy and yummy, the mochi mochi rice-flour roll cake (Swiss roll) is in the spotlight this month at Daimaru Tokyo department store. Until Feb.22 the store is hosting Japan’s first rice-flour roll cake championship. The competition features 15 different types of roll cakes battling it out each day to win a place on the list of top five roll cake role of honor.
Mochi mochi means springy in Japanese and is used to describe the charms of bread or cakes made from rice flour. The rising popularity of rice-flour products, a option that is particularly attractive to people who are allergic to wheat flour, has largely been fueled by the runaway success of Sanyo’s Gopan “home bakery” machine. The device, which launched in November 2010, was so popular that Sanyo couldn’t meet customer demand and the company has had to stop taking orders until production can be increased in April.
Rice flour is not the only unusual ingredient in these roll cakes, and this competition really shows off the creativity of roll-cake chefs from all over the country. The diverse ingredients used in the cakes include green tea, sesame, mikan, soy, Japanese chestnut and purple sweet potato (beni-imo).
Each slice costs ¥367, and the names of the best-selling five cakes are displayed on a board the next day. Many visitors will be eager to try out the Momo Kome Roll created by celebrity Miyoko Oomomo (whose nickname is Momo-chan). Made with special Niigata momo rice, the roll is filled with rich strawberry cream. Though they all sounded tempting, we were drawn to the one with a cute cow’s face made out of cream and sponge.
The Daimaru event is another indication that rice-flour products are still hot in 2011. According to Walker Plus, limited-edition koshihikari bagels made from rice flour went on sale at Bagel & Bagel last month and, until the end of January, Mister Donut sold doughnuts made from rice flour in soy, sesame and chocolate flavors.