Cherry Blossom Cake
March 27: National Cherry Blossom Festival
“Haru ga kita…now it is spring time!” Islander would practice singing the bilingual version of the traditional Japanese children’s song (music by Teiichi Okano and lyrics by Tatsuyuki Takano, written in 1918) with fellow kindergarten classmates for her elementary school’s annual May Day Festival. Her Daddy still fondly remembers his little girl warbling “…flowers are blooming…” at home (our house was right across the street from her school in Hawaii).
Those flowers most likely refer to sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms), which signify that spring has come. Not only is the season celebrated in Japan but also nationally in Washington, D.C., and internationally in Macon, Georgia. Festivals begin around late March. At the capital, where we have visited numerous times, March 27, 1912, is the date commemorating the gift of cherry trees that Japan gave to the United States as a growing gesture of friendship.
We made a cherry blossom cake to share with friends at a prayer group and to remember and support the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Please pray for Japan and all the nations affected by the natural disasters.
(Adapted from FoxNews 11)
For the cherry cola cake
- ¾ cup cherry cola
- 6 eggs, separated
- ½ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cherry extract
- 2 tablespoons grenadine (see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ½ cups sugar, divided use
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherry cola, egg yolks, oil, vanilla and cherry extracts and grenadine until frothy. Add ¾ cup sugar and mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture until a smooth batter is formed. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until peaks form. Add the remaining ¾ cup sugar and whip until glossy. Fold the meringue into the cherry cola batter.
Pour the batter into two, greased 8×3-inch round cake pans. There will be enough batter to fill two 6×2-inch round cake pans as well. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. The cake tops will be dry but soft. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes completely.
For the cherry-flavored whipped cream frosting
(Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cherry extract
In a chilled mixing bowl, beat the cream until peaks form. Whisk in the sugar. Mix in the cherry extract. Use to frost the cake.
Assemble the cake by smearing a bit of the frosting on a cake board to act as an adhesive. Place one layer of the cake on top of the cake board. Generously spread frosting on top, allowing it to overflow on the sides. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting. Spread more frosting on top and even out the sides with a spatula. Repeat for the smaller cake. With the leftover frosting, pipe shell borders to finish the edges (optional).
For the cherry blossom decorations
- Pink food coloring
- Chocolate, melted
- White tube gel
- Silver nonpareils
Take a small portion of fondant from the package. Re-seal tightly and store the rest of the fondant for future use. Knead the fondant until pliable. Tint it pink, incorporating the food coloring until it is well blended into a solid color.
Make a ball, flatten into a disc and roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out little cherry blossom flowers. Re-roll the fondant as necessary to make more flowers. With each flower, place on a sponge pad. Use the ball tool to make an indentation in the middle. Set aside to dry.
Make the branches out of melted chocolate. Place waxed paper over branch patterns (hand-drawn or clip art).
Pipe out melted chocolate by tracing the branch pattern. Remove the pattern from underneath the waxed paper. Let the chocolate cool until solid, refrigerating as necessary. Carefully peel off the chocolate branches and position them on the side and top of the cake.
Decorate randomly with fondant flowers. Dab a little gel in the center of a flower. Put a silver nonpareil in the middle, using a toothpick to guide it in place. Refrigerate the cake in a covered container to set. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.
- Listen to the tune of “Haru Ga Kita” as well as see the lyrics, translations and more about the traditional Japanese children’s song about the spring season here.
- The Japanese are very proud of their beautiful cherry blossoms that a traditional folk song bears its name in the title twice. It is called “Sakura Sakura.”
- Grenadine is a red syrup used to sweeten and add flavor to beverages. Look for it in the liquor aisle of the supermarket.
- Like the cherry blossoms, the cake has a delicate pastel shade from the cherry cola, grenadine and cherry extract. Feel free to add a few drops of pink or red food coloring to batter for a more vibrant hue. For a stronger cherry flavoring, add another teaspoon of cherry extract to the batter and/or frosting.