Japanese Cookbook 101 - part 6. Rose basket

いらっしゃいませ!

Welcome again to my kitchen. Before we get to today’s recipe, I’d like to share with you why I started this series. At first, it was only my passion for Japanese cuisine and how expensive it is to go eat over here at proper Japanese restaurants, but I slowly started to enjoy cooking more and more and looked for a way to challenge myself. That brought me to foods from anime. It’s one standard that anime has - the food there always looks great, especially in cooking shows like Food Wars!.

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The fourth season brought some flashy food, but sadly the show’s execution fell apart and the arc plotline didn’t help. We aren’t given much time to explore each food in detail and have some vague descriptions before clothes are exploding. In episode four, we have a fight between one of the main characters, Tadokoro Megumi, and Elite Ten (3rd seat) Momo Akanegakubo. The topic for the fight is “apple”. Momo with her confectionery specialization is clearly at the advantage and the rose basket she delivers isn’t from this world. It’s stunningly beautiful and I’d dread to recreate the whole thing, but each of the roses in the basket is an individual pie and I can definitely try that. So, without further ado, let’s start cooking!


Rose simple syrup

Before we start making the pie, we have to prepare a few things. First, let’s make the rose simple (sugar) syrup. You can buy one probably somewhere in store, but beware of the strength of the syrup itself as it might overpower everything in the final result. Also, don’t use any regular roses. If you buy some at your florist, ask them if they are safe to use in a kitchen, you never know what they spray on them to make them last longer in a vase.

Ingredients

  • 225g sugar
  • 250ml water
  • 10g (or handful) rose petals

Steps

1. Wash the rose petals if necessary.

These rose petals were bought specifically for cooking or making tea
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2. Mix sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to boil, and wait until sugar dissolves.

3. Add the rose petals and simmer for 5 mins on low heat.

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4. Set aside, let it cool for 5 minutes, then strain to a container.

The colour of the syrup is amazing and I’d wish you to smell it...
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Pie crust dough

Now with the syrup out of the way, we can start working on the pie crust dough. It’s simple, you can find recipes all over the internet. Here is the one I used.

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Ingredients

  • 320g flour
  • 225g butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 Tbsp water

Steps

1. In a bowl mix flour, sugar, and salt.

2. Add butter, half the amount at a time, and incorporate it into the flour mixture until you get crumbly texture.

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If you cut the butter in smaller cubes, you will have much easier time to incorporate them into the mixture

3. Slowly add ice water and mix it until the dough just barely begins to hold together. Press pie dough to see if it holds together.

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4. Carefully empty the crumbly dough mixture from the bowl on to a clean, dry, flat, and lightly floured surface.

5. Use your hands and knead to form a disk, just enough so that the dough holds together without cracks.

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6. Sprinkle disk with a little flour, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days.


Rose apple pie

With the ground work done, it’s finally time to assemble everything into the beautiful rose pies. If you used the recipe for the pie crust dough above, it should allow you to make about 12 pieces, depending on how thick you roll your dough.

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Yeah - these are all the ingredients...

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Granny Smith apples (depending on their size and how thinly you can slice them)
  • Rose syrup
  • Pie crust dough
  • Flour

Steps

1. Remove apples’ cores, cut in half, and thinly slice them.

Try to get the slices as even as possible.
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2. Warm the rose syrup (about 40°C) and submerge apple slices in it and let sit for several minutes. (Beware of not making the syrup too hot, otherwise the thin slices will turn to mush.)

This step will make the apples softer so you can shape them later.
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3. Roll the dough thinly, cut into rectangles 20 x 5 cm.

Having silicone mat with ruler is always a win-win!
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4. Put apples in a single line over the upper half of each rectangle.

See final note below for additional tips!
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5. Cover the lower part of apples with the other half of the dough.

See final note below for additional tips!
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6. Roll the dough horizontally to form the roses. (Trick: to ensure the roses will hold its shape I recommend using muffin tray or forms.)

See final note below for additional tips!
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7. Repeat three previous steps until you run out of dough.

8. Put all roses into a tray and bake in preheated oven on 180°C for about 30 minutes, occasionally brush with the syrup.

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Slight burn on the apples is not a problem.

And it’s done! After you take them out, you can give them one last brush with the rose syrup to emphasize the rose aroma even more, as the flavour penetrated the thinly sliced apples. I recommend waiting for them to cool down a little before eating them, but definitely don’t let them wait till the next day. Not that they won’t be good, but you’ll miss the chance of having flower-and-sweetshop in one bite. Enjoy!

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Final note: if you roll the dough too thick, it’ll result in the raw dough and burned apples. You can try to cut narrower rectangles and not putting that much dough over the apples, resulting in thinner dough and thus quicker bake, or you can start on low - bake for 30 minutes at 120°C and then crank it up to 180°C for another 15 minutes.


Now with another recipe down in my series, I think it’s not even worth apologizing for not doing gyoza as I promised last two times. Would you believe me I’m not doing this on purpose and that I’m just scared of messing that up, when I went beyond my ability to do something which looks artistic and worked with an ingredient I never worked in kitchen before? At this point I won’t even promise you gyoza for next time, I don’t know what I’ll be making.

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Until then, またね!

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