Movie Bites: Miyazaki’s Madeleines

In his latest film, ‘The Wind Rises’, Japanese animator and director Hayao Miyazaki offers his usual delicious blend of East and West. He’d definitely enjoy these madeleines, made with Japanese green tea powder or matcha

Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 00:00

THE MOVIE Hayao Miyazaki, arguably Japan’s most renowned animator and director, recently released what he says will be the last feature- length film of a career which has spanned six decades. Miyazaki has retired a few times before, but this time he seems serious.

The Wind Rises tells the (fictionalised) story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M aircrafts that were used by Japan during the second World War. Though it is one of the least fantastical of Miyazaki’s films, he tells Horikoshi’s story from his usual perspective; that of a young person faced with a struggle who must perservere to succeed.

THE SCENE The Wind Rises is Miyazaki’s least dreamlike film; it is something of a biopic after all. But if we look back at Miyazaki’s body of work, there is a recurring blend of European and East Asian culture in many of his films that’s reflected in dreamy settings that aren’t quite East and aren’t quite West. In 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, Miyazaki’s team based the town Kiki flies around on Stockholm and other cities including San Francisco. 1992’s Porco Rosso main character is an Italian pilot, cursed to wander the earth in the form of an anthropomorphic pig. Miyazaki travelled to Colmar and Riquewihr in Alsace, France, to study the architecture and the surroundings to inform the animation for 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

THE FOOD Green tea powder, also known as matcha, is a central part of the Japanese tea ceremony. In more recent years it has become the darling of food bloggers worldwide. Type in “matcha” on Pinterest and you’ll come agross green-hued noodles, matcha crusted fish, green tea ice cream and frothy matcha smoothies. We’ve been inspired by Miyazaki’s animated cultural flexibility and are giving the ultimate French tea cake a Japanese makeover.

Green tea powder is available in Asian or specialist shops. You will need a madeleines tin for these cakes but otherwise they’re a piece of cake to make.

INGREDIENTS 100g butter, plus a little more for greasing the madeleine tray 2 free-range eggs 100g caster sugar 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence 100g plain flour ½ teaspoon of baking powder 2 teaspoons of green tea powder (matcha)

METHOD First, melt the butter completely and allow to cool. Use a little of the melted butter to grease your madeleine tray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence for a few minutes until frothy. Add most of the melted butter and mix gently.

In a second bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and green tea powder. Sieve the flour mix into the egg and sugar mix, whisking all the ingredients together gently until well combined. Let this batter rest for 20 minutes.

Heat your oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas Mark 6. Once the batter has rested for 20 minutes, carefully spoon it into your greased madeleine tray. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the mixture has risen a little in the middle and is cooked through. Transfer the little green tea cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Madeleines are best eaten on the day they’re baked and are particularly good dunked in coffee or tea.

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